Tuesday, July 10, 2012
On this day in 1912, Charles Comiskey purchased Eddie Cicotte from the Boston Red Sox after the pitcher argued with his manager and the Red Sox owner.
The purchase turned out to be prosperous, as Cicotte rebounded from a few down years to help form the foundation for the eventual 1917 World Champion White Sox. Eddie really came into his own during that championship year. In 1917, Cicotte won twenty-eight games. In 1919, he won twenty-nine games. In 1920, Eddie won twenty-one games. Yet it was partly not reaching thirty wins in 1919 that led to Eddie's eventual downfall.
Cicotte had a clause in his contract that stipulated he would receive a $10,000 bonus for reaching thirty wins, which was nearly double his yearly salary of $6,000. Yet, he was given an opportunity to get to thirty wins on September 30, 1919 and gave up eleven hits and five runs over seven innings and left the game losing 5-4. Dickie Kerr got the win in relief, when the Sox pushed ahead in the bottom of the ninth. Eddie started the final game of the season on September 28, 1919, but was pulled after two innings, leaving the game ahead 2-1, but unable to record a victory if the Sox prevailed, since he did not make it through the fifth inning. The White Sox ended up losing to the Tigers 10-9, with Roy Wilkinson pitching seven innings of relief for the Pale Hose.
Although we can only speculate what really went through each man's mind, many think that Cicotte's reason for joining the World Series fix was Comiskey intentionally pulling him so he would not collect the bonus. Some theorize that Eddie was pulled to reserve him for the World Series, which started three days later. Either theory is plausible and it's entirely possible that both theories are correct, from each man's vantage point. Irregardless of the exact reasons for the tragic events, the fact remains that Cicotte and seven teammates, who were at the least aware, if not also participants, of a plan to intentionally lose the 1919 World Series. These eight men may have been acquitted in a court of law of any wrongdoing, but that did not save them from the wrath of the new baseball commissioner towards the end of the 1920 season. Despite the title of a "lifetime" ban from baseball, each man's banishment is still in effect well after their deaths.