It’s impossible to understand the Black Sox scandal without taking into consideration the intimate relationship between baseball and gambling during that era.
Fixing games, betting on games and bribery offers were common practices during baseball’s Deadball Era in the early 20th century — and these were just the schemes initiated by players. Millions of fans bet on baseball, too, in a popular societal pastime that resembles today’s fantasy football leagues and NCAA basketball tournament bracket pools.
Baseball’s powers that be implicitly encouraged this behavior because attendance was soaring. Even when their own players were involved with game-fixing, baseball executives looked the other way. While the fixing of the 1919 World Series may have, in the words of F. Scott Fitzgerald, destroyed “the faith of fifty million people,” it certainly was nothing new in baseball. In this series about gambling in the Deadball Era, I’ll explore the culture that made the scandal possible.
- Jacob Pomrenke, The National Pastime Museum
Read the rest: “Gambling in the Deadball Era” (Part 1)