"Say It Ain't So, Joe" - The Black Sox Scandal

It has been nearly eighty years since "Shoeless Joe" Jackson and seven other White Sox baseball players were indicted for conspiring to throw the 1919 World Series for cash—thereby earning the nickname "Black Sox." The case, People v. Edward Cicotte et al, was filed October 10, 1920 in the Criminal Court of Cook County (now the Circuit Court Criminal Division).

After months of allegations, a grand jury indicted the players and several alleged gamblers. The trial caused a national sensation, and news items describing various players' and gamblers' involvement (or their denial) appeared almost daily. A key grand jury transcript containing Joe Jackson's testimony disappeared under suspicious circumstances. 

On August 2, 1921, the jury found all eight players not guilty. To remove the aura of scandal, major league baseball chose federal judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis to serve as Commissioner.  Although the players had been found not guilty, he suspended all eight of them from major league baseball for the rest of their lives.

In 1998 former major league players Ted Williams and Bob Feller petitioned the Commissioner to consider the nomination of Joe Jackson to the Baseball Hall of Fame. This request is still pending.

The People v. Cicotte et al case files (#21867 et seq) contain the bill of particulars and a number of other indictments, defendant pleadings, witness affidavits, sureties for bail, the jury's verdict, and various procedural documents.  The files may be viewed in the Archives Reading Room (Richard J. Daley Center, #1113). Call 312-603-6601 to inquire.

For futher reading, Eliot Asinof's Eight Men Out (New York: Henry Holt and Co., 1963) provides full coverage of the 1919 World Series scandal. For further research, the papers of Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis and Judge William E. Dever are located at the Chicago History Museum. The Society also possesses a small Chicago White Sox collection.