In today’s episode, we will describe how the Chicago White Sox got their nickname Black Sox. It has nothing to do with them throwing the 1919 World Series.
The general thought is that the Chicago White Sox were called the Black Sox because eight of their players threw the 1919 World Series. But that is not the case.
It has something to do with the stinginess of owner Charles Comiskey for sure, but the gambling wasn’t the cause.
In those years, former player and now the owner of the White Sox, Charles Comiskey controlled every part of the game in his stadium. Besides that stadium (that he owned) he had his own soda produced, so he could make some more money than he already had. It was a time in which players played for the same owner until he released them, traded them or allowed you to go anywhere else. If you did not agree on an offered contract, the reserve clause prohibited a player to join other teams. Blackballing it its worst form.
Even though the Chicago White Sox were one of the powerhouses in those days, they were also the worst paid in the business. This resulted in eight of its players throwing the World Series of 1919. The story goes that one of the driving forces behind this bribery scandal was Eddie Cicotte. The pitcher was paid an annual salary of $6,000 but he would get a $10,000 bonus if he would win thirty games. As the season drew to a close, Charles Comiskey ordered manager Kid Gleason to bench Cicotte for 5 games, denying him a chance at a 30-win season and the bonus money.
After the scandal became public in 1920, the eight players that allegedly fixed the World Series were called to account in a public trial. But even though the defendants were free of charge, newly established Commissioner Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis banned those eight players for life.
The story goes that the White Sox were called Black Sox because of this game-fixing scandal. But they were dubbed Black Sox even before it.
In an attempt to squeeze some more money out of his players, Charles Comiskey charged them money for laundering their uniforms. Of course, the White Sox players did not agree. As a result, they refused to launder their uniforms and said: “Then don’t clean our uniforms.” Of course, the uniforms got dirtier every game which resulted in the well-known nickname given to them by the press. Eventually, Comiskey withdrew the plan due to the negative attention those dirty uniforms got, but he took the money from the players’ World Series bonus anyway.