Golden Baseball Magazine
October 11, 2022
Quotation

“Sixty, count ‘em, sixty! Let’s see some other son of a bitch match that!”

Babe Ruth in the clubhouse after clouting his 60th homer on the last day of the 1927 season.

Cardinals Clubhouse

Post Season Play - 1946 National League Playoff

A New Orleanian helped the Cardinals tie the Dodgers for the pennant, necessitating a three-game playoff for the first time in National League history..

Read more ...

LSU Baseball

Post Season Play - 1987 NCAA Tournament - 3

The Tigers made it to Omaha for the second year in a row.

Pivotal World Series Moments

1960 Game 7

Mazeroski's homer culminates an amazing series of pivotal and wacky plays.

How Would You Rule?

A fiasco took place when a line drive with no outs and the bases loaded was trapped.

Baseball Quiz

Players with the most games played for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Baseball Short Story
Not Difficult to Throw a Game
Sean Deveney, The Original Curse: Did the Cubs Throw the 1918 World Series
to Babe Ruth's Red Sox and Incite the Black Sox Scandal?
(2010)
One thing that's clear about baseball from the years up to and including the 1919 Black Sox scandal is this: it was not difficult to throw a game. Perhaps [American League president] Ban Johnson could sell the public on the notion that pulling off a fix of a baseball game would be harder than drawing water from an empty well, but those in the game knew better–and, in retrospect, so do we.
The actions of Hal Chase and Lee Magee show that, in 1918, setting up a fixed game was as simple as walking into a pool hall and filling out a check. It wasn't necessary to have the whole team on board. Chase, apparently, tried to fix games on his own. And, if John McGraw was right in what he told Fred Lieb about the 1917 World Series–McGraw said that 2B Buck Herzog "sold him out" by playing out of position–then something a simple as an infielder intentionally shading too far one way could have been enough to throw a whole World Series.
A fix did not require the unified action of an entire team. One reason the Black Sox were exposed was that their attempt at a fix was audacious, indiscreet, and widely known among players throughout the league and gamblers throughout the country, so that it was only a matter of time before someone started spilling the conspiracy's secrets. Fixes did not have to be that way.

L-R: Hal Chase, Lee Magee, Eddie Cicotte, Christy Mathewson
As for the mechanics of fixing a game, they weren't very difficult. "It's easy," Cicotte said in his Black Sox testimony. "Just a slight hesitation on a player's part will let a man get on base or make a run. I did it by not putting a thing on the ball. You could have read the trade mark on it by the way I lobbed it over the plate. A baby could have hit 'em ... Then, in one of the games, the first, I think, there was a man on first and the Reds batter hit a slow grounder to me. I could have made a double play out of it without any trouble at all. But I was slow–slow enough to prevent a double play, period. It did not necessarily look crooked on my part. It is hard to tell when a game is on the square and when it is not. A player can make a crooked error that will look on the square as easy as he can make a square one. Sometimes the square ones look crooked."
When he was testifying about Chase in 1918, Reds manager Christy Mathewson described the methods he'd seen Chase use to throw games: "I mean such plays as momentary hesitation in handling bunts and then throwing too late to get any runner; getting his feet crossed and catching balls thrown slightly wide, thereby having to try for his catch with one hand and resulting in a muff; playing ground hits, that he could have easily got in front of with one hand, so that the opposing batter got credit for a base hit; going after balls hit almost directly at the second baseman, which compelled our pitcher to make running catches at first base of long, hard throws, frequently thrown by Chase wide of the bag, or starting in for bunts that the pitcher could easily handle, then stopping, leaving first base uncovered. In some of these games, his failure, while at bat, to either hit or bunt the ball in attempting the squeeze play or the hit-and-run play, caused me to order the discontinuance of those plays."
Reds outfielder Edd Roush commented that, even when Chase was trying to lose, he made it look good–when Chase was suspended for indifferent playing, his batting average didn't look very indifferent. He was hitting .301, 12th best in the National League. (Magee, too, was batting .301.) A player could put up very good individual numbers while intentionally kicking away games. "If he wanted to win, you couldn't throw that ball where he couldn't come up with it," Roush told interviewer Lawrence Ritter. "But if he didn't want to win, he'd always cover that bag late. ... Course, he was slick at it. Now, I hit ahead of Chase in the batting order, I hit third, he hit fourth. In a ball game he'd lose, he might have three base hits in it."
Chase, remember, was throwing games right under the noses of his teammates and manager. Reporters covering the Reds that year, who watched every game, sometimes expressed frustration with the team's performance, but no accusations of crookedness was lodged until Mathewson finally suspended Chase. If Chase and the Reds could fool their beat reporters, average fans would be fooled, too.
In Eight Men Out, Eliot Asinof explained that a fix could come from anywhere on the diamond: "Exploiting their own talents, bribed players learned to become adept at throwing games. A shortstop might twist his body to make a simple stop seem like a brilliant one, then make his throw a bare split second too late to get the runner. An outfielder might 'shortleg' a chase for a fly ball, then desperately dive for it, only to see it skid by him for extra bases. Such maneuvers were almost impossible for the baseball fan–even for the most sophisticated sportswriter–to detect."