1919 Black Sox.com

The Story

The Year 1919

The Ballplayers

Then and Now

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When the American League established itself in 1901, it had already withdrawn from the "National Agreement" (a pact amongst the National League and all minor leagues that honored each other's players contracts). With better paying salaries, the American League drew 111 former National League players in it's first year. This "player war" lasted for two years. In 1903, the National and American Leagues reached an agreement. The American League was recognized as a Major League and would agree to follow the National Agreement. A new governing body, the three-man "National Commission" was created as well as a new post season championship, the "World Series."

The National Commission which consisted of both league Presidents and Cincinnati Reds owner, August Herrmann was to have the power to enforce fines, suspensions or both upon either league. Also, if both leagues claimed the service of the same player, the Chairman of the Commission (Herrmann) was given the authority to determine and declare a decision.

However, this Supreme Court of Baseball would ultimately fail in a number of areas, the most damaging being the issue of gambling in baseball. Gambling and the throwing of ballgames was generally ignored so as to avoid negative publicity to the sport. The protocol of the day was for the baseball establishment to "look the other way" or sweep a gambling incident "under the carpet."

The National Commission (L to R): N.L. President Harry Pulliam, Cincinnati Reds owner August Herrmann, New York Gaints owner John Brush (not a member of the Commission) and A.L. President Ban Johnson. (photo s004358 courtesy CHS)

Beginning with the George Sisler case of 1915, the Commission was forced to rule on a number of disputes regarding teams that claimed the service of the same player. With each passing decision, the neutrality and authority of the Commission was called into question.

In 1919 two events took place which would bring an end to the National Commission: the mishandling of the Black Sox Scandal and the Commission withholding the third place purse money from the New York Yankees.

After Game 1 of the 1919 World Series, White Sox manager Kid Gleason went to Charles Comiskey to discuss rumors of a World Series fix. Suspicious that a fix was occurring, Comiskey then went to N.L. President John Heydler and A.L. President Ban Johnson. Johnson told Comiskey his claims were "the yelp of a beaten cur."

After Game 2 of the World Series, White Sox secretary Harry Grabiner notified John Heydler of a possible fix via telephone. Grabiner later wrote in his diary that he (Heydler) refused to believe the rumors of a fix, but stated he would bring it to Ban Johnson's attention and promised to get back to Grabiner on the


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