Charles Fountain On Why The 1919 World Series Scandal Was The Birth Of Modern Baseball

May 26, 2017

This program was originally broadcast in May of 2016

Nearly a century ago, the Chicago White Sox faced the Cincinnati Reds in the 1919 World Series. The games attracted big crowds, widespread enthusiasm and plenty of action from the so-called “sporting men” who placed bets on who would win each contest. Gambling was an integral and accepted part of baseball at the time, but for this Series, something seemed off. The White Sox were heavily favored to win, but they lost to the Reds five games to three. Speculation quickly surfaced that the Series had been rigged.

When the dust settled, eight White Sox players, known from then on as the Black Sox, were accused of throwing the games. They included “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, already a legend. While the famous line, “Say it ain’t so Joe,” may well be apocryphal, it perfectly sums up the 1919 World Series, when innocence was lost and trust betrayed.

Charles Fountain tells the riveting story of one of baseball’s most notorious scandals in a new book, The Betrayal: The 1919 World Series and the Birth of Modern Baseball. He teaches journalism at Northeastern University in Boston and is the author of three previous books, including Under the March Sun: The Story of Spring Training.