Pivotal World Series Plays
Cicotte Signals the Fix Is In.
1919 World Series Game 1: Chicago White Sox @ Cincinnati Reds
When White Sox P Eddie Cicotte (pronounced SEE-cot) hit the first batter he faced in the bottom of the first, Morrie Rath, right between the shoulder blades, hardly anyone thought anything of it. Even an ace hurler like Eddie, who led the major leagues with 29 victories against only seven defeats, might be nervous starting the first game of a World Series even though he had started three games against the New York Giants in the 1917 Fall Classic. So it was surprising that a pitcher known for his control–he walked only 49 batters in 306 innings in 1919–would start the game with such an errant delivery.
What only a handful of people knew, though, was that the hit batsman was not a result of jitters. No, it was a predetermined signal to a coterie of gamblers that the fix they had paid handsomely for was in process. Cicotte had found the $10,000 he demanded in his pillow in his hotel room the night before Game 1.
The batter Eddie hit came around to score the game's first run on a single that sent him to third and a sacrifice fly to deep left field.
Cicotte had his best year in the majors in 1917 when he led the American League in wins (28), ERA (1.53), and innings pitched (346 2/3). In the World Series that year, he contribu­ted one win to Chicago's six-game triumph. Yet all White Sox owner Charles Comiskey offered him was a $5,000 contract, much less than pitchers of the same caliber earned on other teams. Eddie's 1918 season was a disappointment after his '17 showing due in part to an ankle injury in early May.
Cicotte was the head of a household of 12, including his wife's parents, Eddie's brother and wife, and a brother-in-law's family.
Rumors that the series was "fixed" had been rampant. So some reporters covering the game were on the lookout for suspicious plays. Two of those reporters were Giants ace Christy Mathewson, who wrote a daily syndicated column during the World Series. Chris­ty had been a player-manager for the Reds in 1916 before serving in World War I. Another keen observer was Hugh Fullerton of the Chicago Herald and Examiner. Both men agreed to circle suspicious plays on their scorecards during the series.
Mathewson noted several questionable plays in his article on Game 1. "In the third inning of today's game, Hugh Fullerton said to me, 'Do you think Cicotte was right?' I replied, 'No, because if he had his usual stuff the Reds would be making more foul tips.'" Then Matty cited a play in the bottom of the 4th when the Reds broke open the game with five runs. With a man on first and no outs, "Cicotte grabbed a hot grounder hit by Kopf, but threw it so low to Risberg at second base that he could not double Kopf." Instead of an inning-ending double play, the Reds had a man on first with two outs. The next four batters scalded Cicotte for a single, triple, double, and another single to send the Sox ace to the showers. He had given up seven hits and six runs, all earned. He walked two batters and struck out only one. Cincinnati coasted to a 9-1 victory.
1919 Chicago White Sox

Eddie Cicotte is third from left in the first row.
In an interview after the Series with Baseball Magazine, Cicotte was asked about the fix rumors. He replied: "For my first game I will offer no apologies. It was a very hot day and the heat bothered me considerably. But I thought I could pitch my best ball. I was mistaken as the results showed plainly enough." For the record, the temperature at noon October 1, 1919, in Cincinnati was 83°.