1919 Black Sox: Joe Jackson’s testimony

I’m working on a few big posts right now, but in the meantime, I want to start something.  This is part I.

In 1919, the Chicago White Sox were accused of accepting bribes from gamblers to lose the World Series.  Though something was definitely up and money did exchange hands, it’s unsure how many of the players were actually involved.  But the commissioner at the time, Kennesaw Mountain Landis, operated with a sword rather than a scalpel and banished all of the players from the sport, possibly conspiring with owners to do so.  The event was known as the 1919 Black Sox scandal.


One of the biggest questions raised at the time was whether or not Joe Jackson, one of the greatest players of his era, was involved in the bribery or not.  In Jackson’s favor, Jackson hit .375 during the series. There’s a lot more to it (and I’ll get to that either tomorrow or the next day), but Baseball-Almanac has his entire grand jury testimony from the Sept. 28, 1920 hearing.  While there’s a very good argument in Jackson’s defense forthcoming, this is a pretty big point raised by the “Jackson is guilty” group.

Q       Who paid you the $5,000?

A       Lefty Williams brought it in my room and threw it down.

Q       Who is Lefty Williams?

A       The pitcher on the White Sox club.

Q       Where did he bring it, where is your room?

A       At the time I was staying at the Lexington Hotel, I believe it is.

Q       On 21st and Michigan?

A       22nd and Michigan, yes.

Q       Who was in the room at the time?

A       Lefty and myself, I was there, and he came in.

Q       Then you talked to Chick Gandil and Claude Williams both about this?

A       Talked to Claude Williams about it, yes, and Gandil more so, because he is the man that promised me this stuff.

Q       How much did he promise you?

A       $20,000 if I would take part.

Q       And you said you would?

A       Yes, sir.

Q       When did he promise you the $20,000?

A       It was to be paid after each game.

Q       How much?

A       Split it up some way, I don?t know just how much it amounts to, but during the series it would amount to $20,000.  Finally Williams brought me this $5,000, threw it down.

Q       When did Eddie Cicotte tell you he got $10,000.

A       The next morning after the meeting we had in his room.

Q       Did you tell him how much you got?

A       I did.

Q       What did you tell him?

A       I told him I got five thousand.

Q       What did he say?

A       He said I was a God damn fool for not getting it in my hand like he did.


A       I think that those fellers cut it up to suit themselves, what little they did have.

Q       Who is that

A       The gang

Q       What gang?

A       Charlie.

Q       Charlie Risburg?

A       Yes.

Q       Who else?

A       McMullen and Williams.

Q       Who else?

A       Cicotte, they were gambling.

Q       Weren’t you in on the inner circle?

A       No, I never was with them, no, sir.  It was mentioned to me in Boston.  As I told you before, they asked me what would I consider, $10,000?  And I said no, then they offered me twenty.

Q       Who mentioned it first to you

A       Gandil.

Q       Who was with you?

A       We were all alone.

Q       What did he say?

A       He asked me would I consider $10,000 to frame up something and I asked him frame what?  And he told me and I said no.

Q       What did he say?

A       Just walked away from me, and when I returned here to Chicago he told me that he would give me twenty and I said no again, and on the bridge where you go into the club house he told me I could either take it or let it alone, they were going through.

Q       What did you say to him and what did he say to you?

A       I met him in the lobby of the hotel, we sat there; I can’t remember the name of the hotel.

Q       Sinton Hotel?

A       Sinton Hotel, yes.

Q       That is in Cincinnati?

A       Yes. I said, ‘How is everything?’

Q       What did he say?

A       He said, ‘Everything is fine.’

Q       Then what happened?

A       He told me about this stuff and I didn’t know so much, I hadn’t been around and I didn’t know so much.  He said, ‘Where is Chick?’  I said, ‘I don’t know.’  He walked away from me.  I didn’t know enough to talk to him about what they were going to plan or what they had planned, I wouldn’t know it if I had seen him, I only knew what I had been told, that’s all I knew.

Can’t copy and paste the whole thing.

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