After World War I, Major League Baseball's popularity reached new heights. Some of its biggest new fans were gamblers, and they found willing associates in the clubhouse on the South Side of Chicago. Many of the 1919 Chicago White Sox weren't too fond of their owner, Charles Comiskey, who was notorious for being cheap. (Players were forced to launder their own uniforms.) The pressure from the gamblers and the poorly compensated players led to a relationship that set the stage for one of the most infamous events in professional sports.
The Sox dominated the 1919 season and were favored by 5-to-1 odds to beat the Cincinnati Reds in the World Series. This proved to be the perfect scenario for a fix. Small-time gambler Joseph Sullivan found eight players interested in making some money in exchange for losing the series.
Game one started just as planned when Eddie Cicotte plunked the Reds leadoff hitter square in the back. The Sox would go on to lose the first two games. Dickie Kerr, who was not in on the fix, would go on to win game three for Sox. The Sox lost games four and five, giving the Reds a 4-to-1 series lead. The Reds needed just one more win to take the series.
To see how the series ended and learn about the fallout that followed for the eight participating White Sox, pick up a copy of Eliot Asinof's thorough investigation, Eight Men Out. For a briefer, but nonetheless enthralling account, check out the movie by the same name, Eight Men Out.