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33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on April 21, 2006
It is hard to put into words the service that author Gene Carney - with the publication of his wonderful new book: BURYING THE BLACK SOX - has performed for all of us baseball history enthusiasts who are eternally intrigued by the 1919 Black Sox scandal. Mr. Carney's great achievement is that he steps into the sordid world of lies, conspiracies, gamblers, and cover-ups that pervade this sad but fascinating chapter in baseball history, and attempts to make sense of it all. He successfully emerges with a book that is both a joy to read and incredibly informative. The wealth of new information that the author uncovers and explores is simply breathtaking. It's a book that is extremely well written and edited, with just the right blend of stylistic flair and humor. It is never boring and, quite frankly, I couldn't put it down. It's also one of the few books I've ever read that I was disappointed when it ended: I just wished that it could go on for about another 200 pages.

It also succeeds in capturing both the essential elements of the 1919 World Series scandal and the cultural flavor of post World War I America. We see remarkable, uncanny similarities to our present time. Like steroids in today's game, we sense that gambling had a "death grip" on the National Pastime by 1919, a problem that had been festering for at least a decade. And, like today's baseball hierarchy trying to deal with the problem of steroids, many of baseball's ruling elite buried their collective heads in the sand, hoped it would just go away, and orchestrated a cover-up. It took a Grand Jury to get their attention. The thought of dealing with the problem in an open and forthright manner never seemed to occur to them. Like Watergate, the cover-up didn't hold, and in many ways, was worse than the crime. But with a help of a cooperative media, ever in defensive of the baseball establishment, the cover-up in some senses lives on even today.

Most of us are familiar with the overall picture of the Black Sox scandal, but we get lost in the morass of details. Here's where BURYING THE BLACK SOX is a real help. How many of us confuse and conflate the 1920 Grand Jury "confessions" with the 1921 trial with the 1924 civil suit? The cast of characters includes a highly jumbled mix of crooked and clean ball players, their families, baseball "magnates," Fixers, reporters, commissioners, lawyers and judges.

And what about all the gamblers? Who could possibly keep them all straight? Arnold Rothstein, Abe Attell, Sleepy Bill Burns, Sport Sullivan, Billy Maharg, David Zelcer, Mont Tennes, the St. Louis group, the Chicago group, the New York group, the Des Moines group, the Montreal group. Mr. Carney has earned a permanent and everlasting niche in Baseball history just for sorting out this mess! He details the incredibly tangled web of gamblers and Fixers in a spoof of the old Abbott and Costello "Who's on First?" routine. It's worth the price of the book itself.

And then there are the eternal questions: Who initiated the Fix? Why did the ballplayers do it? Was it Comiskey's fault because he was "cheap"? Which games were fixed? How do we know for sure they were fixed? Was it called off before the first game, as some contend? Who got money? Where did the money come from? Did the players "earn" it? What about Weaver and Shoeless Joe? Were they innocent victims?

With his characteristic and pervasive attention to detail, these are all questions that Mr. Carney addresses and, though he doesn't quite answer them definitively (that's not his stated goal), he at least makes an extremely credible effort to "sort everything out." You are left with a far-better understanding of the issues, personalities, and motives than ever before.

To Mr. Carney's credit, he enters into the fray with no biases. He states in the Preface that his goal is to simply present the facts of the case as clearly and accurately as possible and then let his readers make up their own minds. He succeeds in this goal. Even with a topic as emotionally charged as Shoeless Joe Jackson's guilt or innocence, he dispassionately presents all the evidence pro and con. One gets the feeling that this is the way history books should treat Shoeless Joe, but, unfortunately, very rarely do.

A highlight of the book is the prominence Mr. Carney gives to the often overlooked 1924 civil trial brought by Joe Jackson against Charles Comiskey for breach of his 1920 contract. Characterized by Mr. Carney as "The Trial Nobody Watched," it's hard to believe that an event so pivotal to the drama of the 1919 Black Sox scandal has gone largely unexamined. At this trial, Mr. Carney states, "For the first time, there would be new light shed on what Cominskey knew and when he knew it and on exactly what he did or did not do about it. Here for the first time, Jackson's play in the World Series would be scrutinized and whether or not he had willingly lent his name to the conspiracy."

In many ways, this trial pitted Jackson's word versus Cominskey's, with a verdict to be rendered by a jury who had access to all available evidence. They could look into the eyes of the defendants and plaintiff, listen to cross-examination, observe body language and intonation, and decide for themselves whose version was closest to the truth. Mr. Carney believes it's highly significant that - where ten votes were needed for Jackson to win his case - he got eleven. "Eleven of twelve jurors believed Jackson had played every game to win. And that he had not received the $5000 from Williams until the Series was over. And that he had not been in on the conspiracy. And that he deserved his back pay."

We also learn from reporter Frank G. Menke of some of the incredible admissions made by Comisky at this trial: "His $10,000 reward for information was a bluff, as it was made after he knew the Series was crooked, who was in on the Fix, and `practically all of the details.' He admitted at the trial that he knew the identity of the crooked players two days after the Series but made no attempt to get signed statements, and permitted them to play in 1920. He admitted that Jackson played all games to win." Menke's conclusion was that Cominsky had engineered a cover-up of the Fix, and that it nearly succeeded.

So Shoeless Joe was innocent, right? Unfortunately for Jackson, the jury verdict was overturned by Judge Gregory, who could not overlook the contradictions with his 1920 statement to the Cook County Grand Jury (a statement wrongly characterized in the media at the time as a "confession"). It's obvious that Mr. Carney finds this jury verdict highly significant, but he stops well short of exonerating Joe Jackson.

Another interesting chapter is devoted to the bizarre sequence of events that led to the unraveling of the Fix through the Grand Jury process. We learn who helped the investigation along and who hindered it. Many will be surprised to learn that one of the pivotal events in this chain was a completely meaningless game played in August, 1920 between the Phillies and, of all teams, the Cubs. In addition, we learn that the origin of gambling in baseball certainly did not start with the 1919 Black Sox, as many would have us believe.

Along the way we are treated to many of the often overlooked but juicy details of the case. A small sampling would include:

A description of the origin and the interesting details of the life-and-death power struggle between Comiskey and Ban Johnson and how it led directly to the formation of the Grand Jury, and the possible real motives behind Johnson's desire to convene it.

The courageous role played by whistleblower Hugh Fullerton, who, in amazing parallels to the Watergate scandal, assumes the role of Woodward and Bernstein. We learn how his diligence almost single-handedly broke through the cover-up, how his efforts were nearly thwarted, and the steep price he paid to career and person, including attempted murder, for challenging baseball's ruling authorities.

The previously unheralded role played by the gambling publication, "Collyer's Eye," its reporter Frank O. Klein, and how they tried to blow the whistle on the fix and the cover-up in the months immediately after the Series.

A detailed discussion of Judge Landis and his famous ruling that resulted in "eight men out," and succeeded in cleaning up baseball's tarnished image. But in the words of Mr. Carney: "By failing to give consideration to the different degrees of participation in the fix, and by pretending that banning eight players solved the whole problem, [did] baseball officialdom perpetuate a cover-up?"

An interesting section on the "Woodland Bards": a select group of Comiskey cronies that consisted of friends, fellow owners, former ballplayers, reporters, politicians, entertainers, gamblers, and drinking buddies and the role they played in the drama.

How the media distorted Jackson's original Grand Jury statement, characterizing it as a "confession" instead of a "contradictory account of a confused witness," neglecting to reveal that he repeatedly stated that he played all games to win.

After years of reading about the 1919 World Series, all the events in this sordid affair are finally starting to fall into place and to make sense, thanks largely to Mr. Carney and BURYING THE BLACK SOX. It would be hard to call this book the "definitive" version of the Black Sox scandal, only because, as Mr. Carney states, it raises as many new questions as it answers. But I think we can safely assume that Gene Carney is today's foremost authority on the 1919 World Series; and he is to be commended for the diligence and thoroughness that he devotes to this highly emotional, highly controversial subject. It's also safe to say that BURYING THE BLACK SOX is a "must-read" for anyone interested in discussing intelligently this sad chapter in baseball's long and storied history.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on December 28, 2012
As a long-time White Sox fan who has read many other books about this team, I was disappointed with this book. Granted, there is a lot to be found here - if you have the time and patience and inclination to plod through all the often-repetitious information offered by the author. As another reviewer has said, this book reads like the author just dumped all his notes together with no attempt to organize them in order to make them comprehensible to the average reader. Perhaps some other enterprising author can make Carney's material the basis for a more readable book.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on July 3, 2006
This is a must read for any fan interested in the Black Sox Scandal story. Gene Carney has done his research and the book speaks for itself. Gene is objective in his telling of this very complicated story of the fix and it's attempted cover up. Gene lays out the facts as we know them (with help from newspaper articles, letters and other documents that have remained hidden to all but a few serious researchers for over 80 years) and lets the reader decide for themselves. Gene does an excellent job of showing how much Charles Comiskey, Ban Johnson and others within Major League Baseball knew about the fix, when they knew it and what they did to try to cover it up. People say that Joe Jackson and others shouldn't be in the Hall of Fame and that may or may not be the case. After reading this book, you may question why Charles Comiskey is IN the Hall of Fame. Gene shows that Comiskey knew about the fix after the first game, possibly before the start of the Series. Comiskey directed Manager Kid Gleason to confront the team about the rumors, which Gleason did after Game 2, no later than the start of Game 3. Based on this fact, Landis' reason for banning Joe Jackson and Buck Weaver doesn't hold up (the guilty knowledge and not telling their team). There was no motivation for Weaver or Jackson to tell their team something the team already knew. Comiskey then spends the winter of 1919, spring and summer of 1920 attempting to cover up the fix and he almost succeeded in doing so. I won't reveal any more of the book...I'll just say this......I have been researching Joe Jackson and the Black Sox Scandal for over 22 years now and this is the very best book to date on the true story of the fix. This book contains something most Black Sox related books don't....FOOTNOTES.....if you don't believe Gene, you can look it's all there. If you only have time to read one book on the Black Sox Scandal, you gotta read this one!!!
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on May 17, 2006
I liken Gene Carney's wonderful study of the Black Sox scandal to my lengthy attempts years ago to solve Mr. Rubik's frustating little cube. He has taken an incident which is really a tapestry of smaller, often unconnected events, twirled them around in his mind, analyzed them from every angle, and done the best job yet of solving a seemingly unsolvable puzzle. He has done this by uncompromisingly thorough research, as he literally discusses almost everything written or said about baseball's most intriguing event and yet keeps it highly readable. There is much to like about the result. My favorite portion of the book appears on page 179, where Carney names a jury of "experts" (various baseball historians and writers) and records their opinion on whether or not "Shoeless" Joe Jackon played the 1919 World Series to win. The verdict may surprise some.

There is one other aspect of Mr.Carney's book that is worth mentioning. There is a striking resemblance to the actions of White Sox owner Charles Comiskey and other owners in attempting to keep a cover on the scope of player involvement in betting on baseball in 1919 and the efforts of present ownership to keep the lid on steroid use by players of the current era. Those who pick up and enjoy the recent Bond's expose, Game of Shadows, will find in Burying the Black Sox an early lesson in how that "game" is played. Both books are well worth one's time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 11, 2006
If you think you know the story of the Chicago White Sox throwing the 1919 World Series... think again. Carney knocks down the myths and legends that have evolved and lays out the cold hard facts. His meticulously documented research uncovers new evidence in the 85-year old case, including diaries of key figures, grand jury testimony, and other contemporary sources. Carney definitively answers the questions about who was involved in the scandal and to what extent. More importantly, however, he shows why the cover up was more damaging than the fix itself. Burying the Black Sox will change the way we view the history of the game, and no baseball library will be complete without it.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on March 5, 2006
Gene Carney is truly the reigning expert on the subject of

the most famous event in the 137 year history of

American MLB - the1919 "Black Sox" World Series.

It is a mystery that just won't go away.

If you want to learn how the business of baseball works, how the

media is intertwined, and how the owners, managers and public

officials conspired to create the "version" of this event that we all

believe today, this is a must read for you.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on June 15, 2009
Reading "Burying the Black Sox" and it gives a balanced and in depth analysis about the Black Sox Scandal. Gene Carnay presents facts backed up with footnotes and he gives the reader to decide how they want look at Shoeless Joe or Buck Weaver situation, versus the current MLB stance on 8 men out.

Mr. Carney's motive for the book is to explain that the 1919 World Series was not the first time baseball was tainted by gambling, but the whole baseball establishment was betting on Games - including the President of the Cubs and John Mc Graw of the Giants.

In other words, guilty knowledge, the crime Buck Weaver and Shoeless Joe Jackson were banned for, was really common knowledge.The reasons why Shoeless and Buck were ousted from baseball because it was easier for the commissioner to come down hard on high profile players, and not any of the owners.

But Mr. Carney doesn't stop there. He researched how White Sox owner Charles Comiskey and AL President Ban Johnson had known the 1919 Series was fixed at the beginning, if not before it started.

Some might ask why Charles Comiskey's is in the Hall and not Jackson? Newspaper reporter Hugh Fullerton, the crusader against gambling knew that Comiskey had inside information about the fix, but he didn't report it until after Commy's death because their friendship.

Likewise Mr. Carney points out all of myths/fabrications statement like "Say it Aint So," Jackson had "weak fielding", and baseball's famous/infamous story about Jackson's so called confession. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the Shoeless Joe/Buck Weaver reinstatement movements, as well as anyone who believes MLB and its owners are responsible for the steroid cover up.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on January 2, 2010
As every baseball fan knows, the Chicago White Sox have had a long and colorful history. Some of those colors have been bright and happy (recent championship teams), some gaudy and garish (the Bill Veeck years); but probably the most well-known ones have been the dark shadows of the 1919 World Series fix.

I read Eliot Asinof's *Eight Men Out* as a teenager and was fascinated by it, and also by the movie of the same name. Then I married a man one of whose ancestors was Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis (thankfully my husband doesn't look like the judge!), and my interest in the Black Sox scandal was piqued again, so I bought Gene Carney's *Burying the Black Sox.*

Time has brought new evidence to light, and Carney has gone over every letter of it and produced an excellent book that is both a companion to and an update of *Eight Men Out.* Carney's book is documented with copious sources, mainly the almost-unknown trial in 1924 that revisited the events of 1919. Carney also goes in depth on the roles of Sox owner Charles Comiskey and League President Ban Johnson in trying to prevent the evidence from ever seeing the light of day. This new and fascinating information, plus a look at efforts to expose the scandal despite the collusion (by a gambling oriented newspaper no less!) is actually shocking even close to a century later.

Carney also does a great job of bringing the characters to life--players, management, gamblers, judges and juries. One gets the sense of almost having been there, and the excitement of living through the twists and turns of the story. In every way, this is a remarkable book, and a great read.

I would love to see Mr. Carney follow up with a study comparing the various owners of the day. Ever since *Eight Men Out,* Charles Comiskey has been villified as a tightwad, slave-driving tyrant. Yet, Carney makes allusions to other owners in a way that suggests Comiskey was no better or worse than his colleagues. I think it would be another great service to the game and to us, the fans, to see where Comiskey actually ranks among the owners of his own day--and perhaps of modern times too. I hope Carney decides to write that book, but even if he doesn't, *Burying the Black Sox* will stand as one of the great contributions to the history of the game and its times.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on August 20, 2006
This is a valuable contribution to the study of this landmark event. The reason I can't quite give it five stars is that it is a book that could have been even better with the contributions of a ruthless (pun intended?) editor.

Students of baseball's notorious 1919 Black Sox scandal will welcome all the varied information gathered together in one volume, some of it creatively off-the-wall, much of it found in far-flung and hard to access sources. The chapter on gamblers was particularly useful for this reader both in data and perspective, and the "Who's On First" device of delineating them worked for me, but may not for all.

Sometimes it is true that our weaknesses are our strengths taken to an extreme. That strength mentioned in the previous paragraph is also the weakness of this book. There is so much data in this book that it reads as though the author compiled his entire collection of source notes, obscurities, impressions, and other material, and threw it all together, with minimal coherence. Sprinkled among all this material the reader will find conclusions, many of which are repetitive, appearing at regular and sometimes jolting intervals, as though the book was complete here. One must say, however, that Carney's conclusions are always reasonable, invariably thought-provoking even about one's long-held views, and sometimes convincing. Even where I find myself disagreeing with the author's conclusions (e.g. Joe Jackson's Hall of Fame credentials), I find him non-dogmatic.

This book is an essential source for all it contains of other sources, and is properly sourced itself, with an excellent bibliography that includes some surprising material.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on April 27, 2006
While admitting the entire story of the 1919 World Series will remain a mystery author Gene Carney has provided us with a detailed account of the tangled web from numerous sources that he has footnoted regarding this infamous Fall Classic. Bitterness between American League President Ban Johnson and White Sox owner Charles Comiskey, along with players, reporters, and gamblers involved in complex ways, and everyone interested in covering their own self interests lead one to question how much of this World Series was actually "thrown". Pale Hose owner Comiskey was interested in covering up the plot because he feared losing valuable players and wanted to protect his investment, namely his White Sox franchise. Throwing ball games was nothing new in the game's history, and maybe not even World Series' games. The year 1919 was the year that became most well known, and unless the game's magnates cleaned up the game, baseball would go the same way as boxing and horse racing. Commissioner Landis didn't take into consideration any degrees of guilt among the players. In fact, J. G. Taylor Spink, publisher of The Sporting News, told me in a letter in February of 1961 that "They (the players) were all guilty." He said this even though he said, "I knew Jackson very well. In fact he did me a couple of favors I will never forget." It is safe to say this story is a very complicated one, and for the game's sake it is good that a stop was put to the continuing problem of fixed baseball games. Had it been ignored the problem would undoubtedly have escalated. Players and owners have known for several years about the steroid problem in the game and ignored it. Now the mess becomes more complicated to untangle due to their inaction. In ignoring the problem the game sadly didn't learn from its past history. Whatever you think you know about the infamous World Series of 1919 this book will make you reevaluate your beliefs and bring up yet more questions for you. This is a difficult subject to objectively research, but this is one book you need to read if you are fascinated with baseball's history.
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Eight Men Out: The Black Sox and the 1919 World Series
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