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Eight Men Out: The Black Sox and the 1919 World Series Paperback – May 1, 2000

4.5 out of 5 stars 113 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“The most thorough investigation of the Black Sox scandal on record ... A vividly, excitingly written book:” ―Chicago Tribune

“Dramatic detail ... an admirable journalistic feat.” ―The New York Times

“As thrilling as a cops and robbers tome.” ―The Boston Globe

From the Back Cover

"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.'"

But to the horror of the entire nation -- it was. The headlines proclaimed the 1919 fix of the World Series and attempted cover-up as "the most gigantic sporting swindle in the history of America!" In this timeless classic, Eliot Asinof has reconstructed the entire story of the infamous scandal in which eight Chicago White Sox players arranged with the nation's leading gamblers to throw the Series to Cincinnati. Scene by scene, he vividly describes the tense meetings, the hitches in the conniving, the actual plays in which the Series was thrown, the Grand Jury indictment, and the famous 1921 trial. Further, he perceptively examines the motives and backgrounds of the players and the conditions that made the improbable fix all too possible. Here, too, 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. Far more than a superbly told baseball story, this compelling American drama will appeal to all those interested in the history of American popular culture.

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Product Details

  • Series: The Black Sox and the 1919 World Series
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Holt Paperbacks; 1st edition (May 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805065377
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805065374
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (113 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #132,911 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
From the first paragraph to the last sentence of this gripping book, Asinof grabs your interest and doesn't let go. The story he is telling is fascinating - a tale of talented but clueless ballplayers, manipulating gamblers, money-hungry owners, and corrupt politicians, all coming together to create the greatest scandal the world of baseball has known. He tells it with clear, clean prose that keeps the story moving through every detail to its tragic conclusion.
The eight disgraced ballplayers who threw the 1919 World Series have been dubbed the Black Sox for posterity, yet with two exceptions, they are the most sympathetic characters in the whole sordid story. Chick Gandil, the tough first baseman who hatched the scheme, and his friend Swede Risberg, nasty tempered shortstop, who needed no prodding to join in, don't come off well. The rest of the crew, however, seem to have joined in a half-hearted, hapless manner. Particularly tragic are Shoeless Joe Jackson, one of baseball's greatest all-time hitters, whose talent was only exceeded by his naivete, and Buck Weaver, the outstanding thirdbaseman whose only real fault was his loyalty to his friends in not reporting the scheme, as he took no part in throwing the games, and accepted no money. These clueless, grossly underpaid ballplayers, most of who profited little or nothing from the fix, were the only ones punished for the scandal that rocked the nation.
The tale of the gamblers involved is as fascinating as it is telling. Three distinct levels of gamblers were present in the fix. Sleepy Bill Burns was an ex-ballplayer and small time gambler who did the legwork, consulting with the players. He went bust and was double-crossed by both the gamblers above him and Chick Gandil.
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Format: Paperback
I thought this was an excellent read that I found hard to put down. It is rightly ranked by Roger Kahn ("The Boys of Summer") as one of the best 10 baseball books of all time. No matter how much you know about baseball, this book gives a great background on what being a ball player was like during the first two decades of the century. While it is true it is hard to sympathize with today's athletes who seem to be loyal to the highest salary, this book makes it hard not to sympathize with players who were subject to the salaries imposed upon them and whose only recourse was to sit out. There was no free agency in those days and under the reserve clause a player was at the whim of the team's owner. If he didn't like his pay he could choose not to play for that team, but the owner would also make sure he couln't play for any team. While not condoning gambling by players or throwing games (especially in the World Series), it is hard not to understand the temptations faced by many players who were underpaid, near the end of their careers and with no other skills other than baseball. In those days before social security and major league pensions, a bribe of more than your annual salary and the chance to get even at the owner who, in your eyes, was exploiting you, must have been very tempting indeed.
The book certainly makes you feel sympathetic toward "Shoeless" Joe Jackson and Buck Weaver. Like Pete Rose, these two players probably deserve some of the forgiveness that we're so proud of. Jackson should be in the Hall of Fame and Weaver's name should be cleared.
The writing is superb. It gives us a good feel for the intensity surrounding a World Series, the world of gamblers and the world of sportswriters.
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Format: Paperback
In its time (1965) this book really blew the lid off the long-sanitized version of the Black Sox scandal available to the public. Its readability, depth and refusal to glorify any of the participants are what make it the starting point for any baseball lover seeking the true story of the whole sordid affair. Its placement in greater historical context is especially well done; the reader is reminded that it did not occur in a vacuum. WWI was just over, Prohibition was coming, and the dominant national mood was 'we're very noble, we won the Great War' (all historical debatability of that point aside). Game-throwing was nothing new to baseball, as Asinof points out, but the idea that a full third of a team would throw a World Series was a body blow to what had become somewhat of an egotistical nation.
While some new information has come to light in the last thirty-five years, it has only supplemented what Asinof learned--to my knowledge none of it has been refuted. Considering the number of basements and old offices likely cleared out in the intervening time, and at least one definitely pertinent discovery that I'm aware of (the Grabiner notes), this is quite an accomplishment. Recommended both as baseball history and as a portrait of a lusty, turbulent time.
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Format: Paperback
This gripping expose' captures the feel of America in 1919. Author Elliot Asinof shows how the White Sox players (rather, infielder Chick Gandil) first approached the gamblers, and how the fixed World Series proceeded amidst threats, misunderstandings and double-crosses. We also read about the player's 1921 trial for conspiracy, noting that the gamblers escaped unscathed. I liked the author's portraits of conspiring players Eddie Ciccotte and Shoeless Joe Jackson (who's guilt seems modified), the unfairly banished Buck Weaver, and innocent teammates like Ray Schalk and Eddie Collins. Asinof correctly co-indicts baseball's reserve clause and Sox owner Charles Comiskey. The cold-hearted Comiskey precipitated the scandal by grossly underpaying his talented athletes in that already low-wage era. One senses parallels to modern college point-shaving scandals; bitter athletes fixing scores to grab a slice of the pie unfairly denied them.

Since this book first appeared in 1963, free agency boosted player salaries, the missing grand jury confessions surfaced (in offices of Comiskey's late attorney), and this book's movie plus FIELD OF DREAMS brought the scandal to recent light. One thing hasn't changed; the underdog White Sox still have been in just one one World Series (which they lost)in all the years since 1919.
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