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The Story

The Year 1919

The Ballplayers

Then and Now

Survey
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" There will be a great deal written about
the World Series. There will be a lot of
inside stuff that never will be printed. "

-Hugh Fullerton
On the 1919 World Series

onsidered by many to be baseballs darkest chapter, the fixing of the 1919 World Series dramatically changed the way the game would be played and governed in the future. Ultimately ending the careers of nine ballplayers, the Black Sox Scandal exposed both labor weaknesses that existed in baseball as well as greed, politics and mismanagement within the baseball establishment. Many questions still remain as to how a scandal of this magnititude could even have taken place.

The National League was only three years old when the first labor problems began in baseball. The year was 1879 and a newly adopted "reserve clause" had just been implimented. Initially designed for teams to reserve their five best players, the innocuous reserve clause soon became a powerful tool for the team owners. The clause which guaranteed a club a player's service for as long as it wished, also disallowed players to jump from team to team for better pay, a practice known as "contract jumping."

In keeping players from earning their market value, this controversial clause was in essence a form of controlled competition. Without a union or any real form of leverage, the players had to accept the wages the owners were willing to pay them. Within four years, the reserve clause would be expanded to apply to all members of the team.
In the early 1890's Byron Bancroft Johnson was a sports writer for the Cincinnati newspaper, The Commercial- Gazette. His position allowed him to make several acquaintances within the baseball community, including the manager of the Cincinnati Reds, Charles Comiskey.

As their friendship developed, Johnson and Comiskey would share a common dislike: the dirty and rowdy play of the National League. In November of 1893, based upon a recommendation by Charles Comiskey and Reds owner John T. Brush, Ban Johnson was hired as President of the Western League. After taking office, Ban Johnson began implimenting changes in the league such as upholding authority to the

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