Destroying Trust

By | October 2, 2019

[October 2, 2019]  I’m a baseball fan.  Like many who watch ball games, either casually or not, you have likely heard of the Black Sox Scandal.  Today is the 100th anniversary of the start of the 1919 World Series where eight (or was it seven) threw the Series so crooked gamblers could cash in on an upset win.  Considered the “greatest scandal in American sports history,”1 a few disgruntled players destroyed the trust of millions of dedicated fans.

There are many ways to kill trust in others.  Over the past few months, I’ve written several articles that demonstrate the importance of trust (see examples here, here, and here).  Trust can be built over time, but it is easily lost.  The Black Sox Scandal was about some of the best players in baseball history yet their attempt to ‘fix’ a game led to some radical changes that were for the good of the game and its fans.

Some will argue that the “Big Fix” of 1919 remains more a subject of debate among baseball historians.  True, accounts differ, but the fact is that several members of the Chicago White Sox threw the World Series for a large payoff from gamblers.  We do know that C. Arnold “Chick” Gandil and a gambler named Joseph “Sport” Sullivan met to discuss how to get the underdogs, the Cincinnati Reds, to win the 9-game Series.

White Sox pitchers Eddie Cicotte and Claude “Lefty” Williams, shortstop Charles “Swede” Risberg and outfielder Oscar “Happy” Felsch were brought into the scheme.  Third baseman Buck Weaver was in early but backed out.  Utility infielder Fred McMullin was cut in after he overheard the players talking about the deal.  Power hitter “Shoeless” Joe Jackson was also approached.  I named their names for the simple reason that the stain of their dishonorable acts should continue to reverberate through history as a lesson to everyone.

Everyone loses.  Cincinnati won their first World Series because of the actions of a few dishonest Chicago players, but the victory is tainted.  There was a conspiracy trail where all members of the now dubbed “Black Sox” were indicted.  They were lambasted in the media for “selling out baseball” but were found not guilty.  There was a cover-up that is another story in itself.

But the ballplayer’s vindication would not last long.  A day after the acquittal, a judge appointed the first baseball commissioner who decreed all eight players permanently banned from organized baseball.  The edict destroyed the careers of the eight Black Sox.  The now-disgraced ballplayers never set foot again in a big-league game.  For a period after, the image of baseball improved and the fans continued to hunger for more professional games.


Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

17 thoughts on “Destroying Trust

  1. Mr. T.J. Asper

    “Destroying Trust” — great topic for our times. News about US political party fighting between themselves shows how trust can be destroyed easily. Getting trust back between the people and their elected representatives will take a long time. This is not what real leaders do.

  2. Otto Z. Zuckermann

    I too am a long time baseball fan going back many decades to the New York Yankees when they were truly a powerhouse. The story of the “black sox” was something I’d heard about even as a child and my dad taught me, as a small kid, to never lie, cheat, or steal. “Go to church and become a good person” my dad would say. Obviously, the players 100 years ago didn’t have a worthy father.

  3. Kenny Foster

    The 1919 World Series scandal was as mysterious as it was destructive. Players were coerced into testimony with the promise of immunity and then indicted based on that testimony. Owners colluded. DAs cheated and lied. Statements were given and then reversed. Pages of testimony and written confessions were lost forever.

    1. Mr. T.J. Asper

      Kenny, I must agree with you wholeheartedly. I teach every incoming football player (whom I coach) the story of the Black Sox scandal so that they understand where I draw the line in ethical behavior. We also discuss how those with great moral courage were able to help bring the scandal to the light of the public.

  4. Bryan Lee

    Here is a graphic picture of the American underworld that managed the fix, the deeply shocked newspapermen who uncovered the story, and the war-exhausted nation that turned with relief and pride to the Series, only to be rocked by the scandal. Important to know the context of the scandal.

  5. Dale Paul Fox

    The headlines of newspapers across the country proclaimed the 1919 fix of the World Series and attempted cover-up as “the most gigantic sporting swindle in the history of America!”

  6. Harry Donner

    This whole idea that a ‘scandal’ was the result of gambling is only part of the story. Read about the background of the White Sox team that had its members conspire to throw the game so they could get some money. There is, of course, not excuse for their behavior. But it behooves us to look at some of the factors that may have driven them to such an immoral behavior. That means learning more about people’s motivations and we can never learn too much.

      1. Ronny Fisher

        From the back cover of the book, “As Jackson departed from the Grand Jury room, a small boy clutched at his sleeve and tagged along after him. ‘Say it ain’t so, Joe, ‘ he pleaded. ‘Say it ain’t so.'” And now you know the origin of the comment “Say it ain’t so, Joe.”

      2. Tracey Brockman

        Really good book that lays out the scandal. I read it about a decade ago. I understand they have a new edition out.

  7. apache2

    Great story to be retold many times. People can get off the right path. It takes someone with courage to stand up to it.

  8. Tomas Clooney

    I remember my grandfather talking about the “Black Sox” scandal. He was a Cincinnati Reds fan and was upset that their first ever World Series win was due to dirty tricks by the other team to throw the game. There has been a pall over that Series ever since.

    1. Greg Heyman

      If you win by cheating or your win because the other team let you win, you have not won. That is a fact that can never go away.

    2. Xerxes I

      The story of the 1919 Chicago “Black Sox” is a microcosm of America.

  9. Army Captain

    Yes, a memorable story about how things can go wrong, if as a leader, you don’t oversee things properly and treat folks poorly.

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