With Boardwalk Empire and Major League Baseball's seasons over, a look at the infamous Black Sox scandal and Arnold Rothstein's part in the big fix.
With this year's baseball season (and Winter Meetings) complete, as well as the finale of HBO's Boardwalk Empire (as of Sunday, Dec. 11), we offer the following article to keep fans of both happy as the dog days of winter approach....
The ballplayers crammed into the Chicago hotel room delivered their pitch. They wanted their eighty thousand dollars — $10,000 a head — up front.
But their benefactors — a Boston gambler and a New York “businessman” — needed to see the scheme underway before handing over that much money, and parted with only $10,000.
The players took it.
The scheme was to commence in two days: October 1, 1919. Opening game of the World Series.
The project’s financier was not present at the Windy City’s Warner Hotel. He used associates and underlings and henchmen to relay his messages and money, the better to frustrate any future investigations.
“If nine guys go to bed with a girl, she’ll have a tough time proving the 10th is the father,” he had remarked.
The quipster-bankroller was Arnold Rothstein, who took pains not to leave his DNA on his deals. The product of an orthodox Jewish household originally on New York’s Lower East Side, he already was making plans to parlay looming Prohibition into a business empire.
First, though, there was a World Series to fix.
Rothstein’s precise role in the matter has been argued for decades, as the related legal proceedings (plus actions taken by Major League Baseball) served more to obfuscate than clarify.
In his freewheeling 2005 biography of Rothstein, King of the Jews, author Nick Tosches even writes, “Of all the transgressions of which he has been accused, this [fixing the 1919 World Series], the most celebrated of them, was perhaps the only one of which he was innocent.”
However, the weight of the evidence — such as it is — and two other substantial books (Eliot Asinof’s Eight Men Out and David Pietrusza’s Rothstein) link the master manipulator with the scandal that precipitated a sea change in the governance of the national pastime.
"The Big Bankroll" (one of Rothstein’s monikers) was the go-to guy for illicit enterprises on a grand scale. The prime questions about his involvement with the ’19 Series focus on whether or not he initiated the plot, and how independently some of his people (and others in the gambling community) may have functioned.
In baseball circles, gambling was in the air in the summer of 1919 and it wasn’t the first time. Boston bookie-bettor Joseph “Sport” Sullivan, whom some suspected of fixing the 1914 World Series in which the Boston Braves swept four straight from the heavily favored Philadelphia Athletics, picked up the scent, as did Arnold Rothstein, who’d been fleecing rich folk in Saratoga at the racetrack and his new casino (he ran one in New York as well).
When the Chicago White Sox, looking increasingly like the American League pennant winner, visited Boston in August, their ace pitcher, Eddie Cicotte, was talking fix to teammates. At this time, Rothstein confided to a high-level gambler that the upcoming World Series was in the bag.
The following month, the White Sox were back in Beantown, and eight Chicago players agreed to throw the Series in return for an $80,000 payment by Sport Sullivan. Which side made the first move is in question, but certainly it was a case of like minds coming together.
The Sox, a contentious though gifted bunch, were at odds with club owner and baseball pioneer Charles Comiskey, who paid his best players considerably less than what comparable talent received elsewhere in the majors. On September 29, Sullivan, accompanied by a man named “Brown,” closed the deal by giving Sox ringleader Chick Gandil 10 grand, some $70,000 shy of the promised payment. Gandil immediately turned the money over to Cicotte, the key man at this juncture — he would start Game One.
The others, including “Shoeless” Joe Jackson and Gandil himself, could wait.
“Brown” was really Nat Evans, a Rothstein operative who, in truth, had custody of the funds.
"The ending caught me by surprise even though I know the history to which it's adhering. I thought it was such a bold and dramatic move. You sort of figured the series was going to be about these two characters and then one of them dies suddenly at the end of season two."
“It’s been my love and passion ever since I was five years old and I think this music moves people. People who come to see us, they say, ‘When I got here I was in kind of a blah mood, not so good, or depressed, or whatever and I come out in just a whole different place. I’m laughing, my spirits are lifted, it’s cheaper than going to a psychiatrist!’”
In the sixth episode of this multi-part series, the distinguished panel of Atlantic City historians and authors begin to discuss the history of entertainment and nightlife in the resort, which has played such a vital role in Atlantic City for more than a century.
Early in the premiere episode of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, a crowd of dapper Atlantic City movers and shakers, partying well into the night in a spiffy supper club, make a familiar countdown, cocktail glasses held high...
The famed seaside resort that is portrayed in HBO's hit drama series Boardwalk Empire celebrated the show's second season premiere on Sunday, Sept. 25, in a number of ways over the weekend.
With the family film Hugo, Martin Scorsese, who is not only one of the world’s finest filmmakers but also a noted film historian and film preservationist, unleashes his devotion to the magic of movies with a zeal that is enchanting.
“The three eras that attracted me where the 1920s, the ‘50s and the ‘70s. And really HBO’s mandate was [so broad that] I literally had a huge canvass to work from.”
The LP Debuted in Atlantic City
When Walt Whitman Did AC
O.C.’s Four-Hour Horror
1912 Prohibition Party Convention