1919 Black Sox.com

The Story

The Year 1919

The Ballplayers

Then and Now


orn and raised in San Francisco, California, Charles August Risberg had little in the way of a formal education. Charles explaination for dropping out of school in the third grade was that he "refused to shave."

In 1915, twenty-one year old Charles began playing minor league ball for the Venice Tigers of the Pacific Coast League. Due to poor attendance, the Tigers moved to Vernon on July 6,1915. The team finished the season in fourth place with a 102-104 record. The following season Charles was again a member of the Vernon team. The 1916 Tigers finished the season in second place with a 115-91 record.

Swede's Major League debut came on April 11, 1917 as a member of the Chicago White Sox. In his rookie season, Swede only hit .203, but due to his excellent defensive abilities, he became a regular at shortstop and played in 149 games.

Banished from professional baseball in 1921, Swede Risberg played outlaw ball across the United States and Canada from 1922-1932. According to Swede's son, Robert, the elder Risberg frequently earned more money in the Semi-Pros than he did as a member of the White Sox.

Cal. State Los Angeles Professor Alan Muchlinski has researched Swede's Semi-Pro career at length and explains that "Swede was a shortstop for the Chicago White Sox but for much of his post White Sox career he made his living as a pitcher."

It was also during his Semi-Pro career that Swede would be reunited with a number of his former Black Sox teammates. "Swede came to Minnesota in 1922 with a traveling team called the Mesaba Range Black Sox which featured three other members of the 1919 Black Sox team: Happy Felsch, Buck Weaver and Lefty Williams" says Professor Muchlinski. "That same season, the local newspapers in Mesaba would report that Eddie Cicotte, Joe Jackson and Chick Gandil would soon be joining the team as well, but by mid-June the team would be disbanded after a dispute with the manager over money that was owed to the players" Muchlinski added.

In December 1926 Swede made the news when he told the Chicago Tribune he had information that could implicate 20 big leaguers of crookedness. Within two days, Swede was in Commissioner Landis office for an open hearing on the matter. Refering to a September 1917 series against the Detroit Tigers, Swede claimed the Tigers "sloughed off" the series to the White Sox. Swede explained that he and teammate Chick Gandil collected $45 apiece from their White Sox teammates to pay the Tigers to lose. In addition, Risberg also claimed that the White Sox agreed to "slough off two games to the Tigers in 1919." After one week of review, Comissioner Landis absolved all Detroit and Chicago players of any wrongdoing.

After his playing days, Swede got involved in the tavern and lumber business and in 1962 moved to Red Bluff, California where he lived with his son, Robert.

Swede Risberg passed away on his 81st birthday, October 13,1975.


      Risberg color photo courtesy Matt Fulling
      photo of Risberg autograph courtesy of Lelands.com
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