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The White Sox and the Sins of Their Fathers

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It is said that the sins of our fathers can be revisited upon us. The Chicago White Sox may be the proof of that adage. While much baseball lore has centered on those curses dealing with the Chicago Cubs and the Boston Red Sox, rarely is the futility of the Chicago White Sox mentioned. Only the Cubs can exceed the White Sox for ineffectiveness when it comes to winning the last game of the season.

While the Cubs curse is based on denying some poor ticket-holder the right to bring in his pet goat and the Red Sox sin was to trade Bath Ruth, the White Sox committed the worse sin of all – they threw a World Series and got caught. The 1919 White Sox team, as a means of getting even with their skinflint owner Charles Comiskey, schemed to fix the World Series.

Heavily favorite going into the Series, eight members of the White Sox conspired with gamblers to ensure their own defeat. Interesting enough, all eight ball-players would be acquitted of charges by a jury of their peers, but baseball’s new commissioner, Judge Landis, banned all of these players for life. Baseball’s own brand of justice imposed the ultimate punishment and in the process derailed several Hall of Fame careers, including Shoeless Joe Jackson, one of the top hitters of his era. To this day, Shoeless Joe is still denied access to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Baseball survived this scandal as the emergence of Babe Ruth’s slugging prowess gave fans new reasons to flock to the ballpark. As the roaring twenties raged on, Babe Ruth became a larger-than-life figure and baseball found its saviour.

As for the White Sox, they would never win another World Series and only once since 1919 have the White Sox been to a World Series. The 1959 go-go Sox lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games and since then, they hadn’t even come close. Even the Red Sox came perilously close to ending their curse in 1967 and 1986, before the 2004 edition finally put an end to the Bambino curse. And the Cubs have been in more World Series since 1919 than the White Sox.

No one writes books about the White Sox curse, but if there was a team that was cursed, it is the White Sox. The Sins of the Fathers were revisited upon generations of players who couldn’t even name the guilty Black Sox, much less, remember the event. At least three generations of fans have come and gone since the White Sox threw their World Series. The nation has gone through World War I, Great Depression, countless recessions, World War II, the Cold War, present war on terror and 16 different President since the last time the White Sox won a World Series. Chicago last celebrated a World Series victory when American soldiers were marching “over there” in France during the First World War.

In baseball, there is no greater sin than gambling and it is the one sin that can’t be forgiven. A ball-player can commit numerous crimes and still not be denied access to hallowed halls, but not gambling. Babe Ruth was a womanizer and drunkard, who partied at night and even showed up for games still inebriated. He is a member of the Hall of Fame.

The integrity of the game is wrapped up in whether the game is played on the level. Consorting with gambling puts a player at risk to consider the unthinkable – throwing a game. Which is what happen to the White Sox in 1919, for they did not just gamble or associate with gamblers, they fixed the major event of the day- the World Series!

In 1919, Americans fixated upon the World Series in similar fashion that they follow the Super Bowl today. It was the major event and when it became known that White Sox players conspire to fix this event, a shock wave was sent through America. As one young boy reportedly begged of Shoeless Joe Jackson: “Say it ain’t so Joe.” It was that traumatic.

The sins of the White Sox were greater than anything that the Cubs or Red Sox have ever committed. Let face it, Babe Ruth was not first nor last superstar traded or sold by a team in financial trouble but we are to believe that only the Red Sox would be cursed for trading away a superstar. And denying a goat entrance into a ball park is standard operating procedure for most ball clubs, but fixing the ultimate championship is something altogether different.

Just as Commissioner Landis booted out those players involved for life, the baseball gods have punished the White Sox as well. Each generation of baseball players who ever wore a White Sox saw nothing but disappointment at the end of season. Even expansion teams formed long after the White Sox have seen the ultimate success in baseball. The Florida Marlins, a team that did not even exist in the 1980s, have won two titles in the last decade. The present White Sox team labors upon the burden of the sins of their forebears – the Black Sox. The only question is how long will the White Sox suffer under the burden of this curse.
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About Tom Donelson

  • http://www.capitalradiorock.com skott wade

    well, not totally right.

    there was a great book and movie called Eight Men Out about the black sox.

    the Red Sox also were in the Series in 1975 which went to a 7th game as well. see Carlton Fisk before he was a white sox hit the greatest home run ever in game 6.

    the white sox “curse” is a joke. more like Karma than curse.

  • http://sussfr.blogspot.com Matthew T. Sussman

    It’s amazing that the White Sox are forgotten as a team that hasn’t won a postseason series — let alone a World Series — since ’17. They’re one win away from breaking that streak.

  • tom Donelson

    I am aware of Eight Men Out but it does not deal with any curse, just the 1919 world series.

    Thanks for reminding me of the 1975, how could I have forgotten that? My point is that the White Sox rarely gets mention, yet their record of futility certainly matches the Cubs and the Red Sox before last year.

  • javier nuno

    Curse? Such a thing does not exist! Incompetance and lack of talent & will are the real factors for poor performance by players in a team. But losers (such as the Chicago cubs and their fans), blame the supernatural which cannot be measured or observed in failed attempts to relieve player performance from accountability.

    The reason why you don’t hear about a curse is because the White Sox and their fans know better than to blame an event that happened eons ago. Win or lose, it will not be because 8 players decided about 100 years ago to throw a world series.

  • Charles Laskonis

    I just happened to stumble across this blog today and the author might want to eat his words after the Sox 2005 World Series Championship. That say about enough now doesn’t it?

  • john patterson

    i agree that they should have been banned for life. But my thing is that people have to realize that the amounts of money they were offered(8,000 a piece) to throw the world series away.I mean 8,000 dollars today is like 5 million today. Alot of people dont realize that.