Sunday, January 9, 2011

WSC Vintage: Happy Felsch

Card #30 - Happy Felsch

Oscar Felsch made his debut with the White Sox on April 14, 1915. By the following season, Happy ascended into the upper echelon of American League hitters and finished in the top ten of most major batting categories until the end of his career.

Felsch missed a great deal of the 1918 season, due to military service, but was right back among the league leaders in 1919. In addition to being a threat at the plate, Oscar was regarded as one of the elite fielders in the AL, and led the American League in putouts and assists in 1919.

The once promising Hall of Fame career fell by the wayside, when Happy agreed to accept $5,000 for his part in throwing the 1919 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. The act had a profound effect on both clubs, as each struggled in the mid twenties through the mid thirties. After the 1920 season, Oscar was banned from organized baseball for life, along with seven of his alleged co-conspirators. It should be important to note that these eight men were banned from baseball despite being acquitted of wrongdoing in a court of law.

In recent years, evidence has emerged that the 1919 World Series was not the only one thrown. In affidavits produced during the Black Sox trial, it is stated that the idea to throw the 1919 World Series came from knowledge that the previous year's World Series was fixed.

If Oscar "Happy" Felsch has any positive legacy, it is that his actions led to the game being cleaned up from gambling. It is debatable how well Happy would have done past 1920, but with the dead ball era waning at the end of his career, it may have been something special.

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