05-16-2006, 04:27 PM
Now it can be told: There was more to Black Sox scandal
By GORDON ENGELHARDT, Courier & Press
May 15, 2006
Susan Dellinger's original intent was simple enough: to honor her grandfather, Baseball Hall of Famer Edd Roush, with a memoir.
But that wasn't enough to whet the appetite of half a dozen publishers, who rejected her proposals on three different occasions in three different decades — the 1970s, '80s and '90s. But her ties with the Society of American Baseball Research (SABR) finally helped her land a deal with Emmis Books in Cincinnati, which published "Red Legs and Black Sox: Edd Roush and the Untold Story of the 1919 World Series," in February.
Dellinger will conduct a book signing at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday at Barnes & Noble on Green River Road. She will appear in Roush's hometown of Oakland City for a presentation and book signing at its public library at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday. She will also sign books during an Evansville Otters exhibition game at 7 p.m. on Friday at Bosse Field.
In finalizing the book deal, Dellinger and Emmis struck a compromise. She was told she could feature her grandfather as long as it was wrapped around the story of the infamous 1919 World Series in which a gambling scandal led to a lifetime ban for eight Chicago White Sox players.
This tale has been told many times, most famously in the movie, "Eight Men Out." But "Red Legs and Black Sox" is the first book told from the Reds' perspective.
She postulates through her research and her fiery grandfather's strong beliefs that the White Sox only threw Game 1 and the Reds would've won the series, fix or no fix.
"I had to believe what my grandfather said first," she said. "In my research, I attempted to validate his opinion. He and every other Cincinnati Red who played in that World Series believed from the field they would've won anyway, regardless of what was happening."
Not only does her research reveal that both teams were approached by gamblers, Roush believes that Reds pitchers Dutch Ruether and Slim Sallee might have thrown Games 6 and 7 (the series was expanded to a best-of-9 format in 1919). Hod Eller declined an invitation to fix Game 8 and helped lead the Reds to their first World Series title.
Dellinger, a Ph.D. who self-deprecatingly describes herself as a granddaughter, not a baseball historian, became just that. After joining SABR, she meticulously researched one of the most researched topics in baseball history. She credits unheralded Cal Crim, a detective hired by American League president Ban Johnson, for his determination in helping crack the case.
"There's so much more out there," Dellinger said. "The mystery of 1919 will last throughout our lifetime and probably (the history of) baseball. It is so complicated. There is a mosaic of different pieces of different research at different times. I happened to be looking at Cincinnati."
Her grandfather visited the "Eight Men Out" set six months before his death in 1988. Dellinger talked to director John Sayles, who found that people were still reluctant to talk, still afraid of gamblers, even after all these decades
"This is a very big deal," she said. "Each of us finds a little piece of it. You ask baseball experts who won the 1919 World Series and they don't have a clue. The 1919 Reds won 68.6 percent of their games (the highest mark of any team in Cincinnati history, including the Big Red Machine)," Dellinger said. "Yet Cincinnati is still embarrassed."
She has received a query from ESPN and is hopeful a ESPN Classic movie might result from her book.
"It's a darn good story," said Dellinger, who grew up in Elwood, Ind., and lives in Tampa, Fla. "It's great for granddad. This is more than just a legacy. It has to do with my grandparents' story and it has romance, intrigue and murder."
Arnold Rothstein, widely reputed as the mastermind behind the fix, was shot and killed in 1928.
Dellinger believes the 1919 World Series is by far the most important event in the history of baseball because of all the mystery and intrigue that surrounds it.
"I don't solve the mystery," she said. "I just add more information."
Her grandfather, for years the oldest survivor of the 1919 World Series, lived to be 94, spending much of that time defending that team, Dellinger said.
Now his side of the story has been told, full of inside information that only a family member could unveil.
05-16-2006, 04:35 PM
I've yet to read the book, but there was some discussion on the deadball era list on SABR about it and a local PNW member who is related to Slim Sallee had some issue with it, so here's his piece and the Susan's (which BTW outlines the legwork that good research demands)
In Susan Dellinger's new book on her grandfather entitled "Red Legs and Black Sox: Edd Roush and the Untold Story of the 1919 World Series," she writes rather extensively about Roush's accusation that Reds pitchers Dutch Ruether and Slim Sallee conspired with gamblers to lose games 6 & 7 of the 1919 World Series. This accusation occurred once, in a mid-to-late 1970s interview with a Columbus, OH sportswriter. When later pressed by the same sportswriter to confirm what he'd said, Roush backpedaled, indicating he didn't have any evidence, just suspicions. As far as I know, Roush never mentioned it again, at least publicly. Ms. Dellinger has taken this isolated incident and presented it as new, exciting, "factual" information about the 1919 World Series. I've got a bit of a problem with that.
To address specifics, Roush indicated the following as the basis for soiling the names of Slim Sallee and Dutch Ruether:
1. Jimmy Widmeyer, a Cincinnati gambler and a Roush acquaintance, told Roush late in the Series that the gamblers had gotten to some of the Reds;
2. Roush saw Sallee and Ruether talking to gamblers; and
3. Roush saw a lot of funny pitching (from Ruether and Sallee) in Games 6 and 7.
Re: 1. - In the context of the 1919 World Series, a gambler with the type of inside information Widmeyer claimed to have would have a credibility issue. In other words, how does one really know that Widmeyer was telling Roush the truth? Perhaps most important, Widmeyer apparently did not tell Roush which Reds had been gotten to. Why? Is this because he didn't know, or is it because this conversation never took place? Doesn't it seem like Edd Roush would want to know who his crooked teammates were immediately after hearing that some of them WERE crooked?
Re: 2 - It seems an enormous contradiction that Roush would condemn Sallee and Ruether for talking to gamblers, on the one hand, and then on the other hand base an accusation upon information he obtained by ... talking to a gambler. It would seem everybody was talking to gamblers in 1919, so what does it really mean when someone (Roush) said, "I saw them talking to gamblers"? Apparently, it doesn't mean much at all. It really doesn't mean much when Roush didn't identify who the gamblers were. Was it Burns, Maharg, Attell, et al, or was it Charlie Schmutz (but not the Brooklyn pitcher) and Harvey Sheetmetal, local Cincinnati grocers who liked to put-up a $10 bet every now and then? After all, most of society gambled in 1919. What was the topic of the conversation between Sallee, Ruether, and the gamblers? Nobody knows, do they? But we are led to believe that the topic of this conversation must have been about throwing baseball games. It just wouldn't be a good story if the actual topic turned out to be about fishing, farming, or a good restaurant.
Re: 3 - I will only address this at it relates to Slim Sallee and Game 7:
Slim seems to be guilty, in Roush's mind, of having a less than stellar 7th game of the 1919 World Series. Of course, none of the Reds were very good that day. Here is what was reported in the Charleston, SC News & Courier (other newspapers had similar accounts, with various and sundry flowery renditions) about the fifth inning, when Sallee was "knocked from the box":
"J. Collins started by flying out to right [1 out]. Captain Collins singled. Weaver rolled one to Groh who let it get through his legs and Weaver reached first and Collins second. Groh's error and that which followed by Rath were costly [s/b at least 2 out w/only one runner on]. Jackson drove a bounder to the Red second baseman who made a straight fumble of it and the bases were filled [the inning should have ended with no runs scored]. In this crisis Felsch, who is frequently called upon to sacrifice was ordered to hit. He singled to center and E. Collins and Weaver scored."
In addition to the Groh and Rath errors, Jake Daubert and, dare I say, Edd Roush also committed errors in this game. More importantly, the Reds batters failed to hit a pitcher they had beaten twice earlier in the Series and whom history has "convicted" of losing this World Series on purpose. Placing blame on Slim Sallee as the man who lost this game all by himself is, well, rather pathetic.
By 1919, Sallee had become an old pitcher with a bad back who couldn't break a pane of glass with a pointed rock. He still had his great control and a tremendous knowledge of how to get hitters out, but he had to rely on his defense to execute plays behind him. His theory was that he wanted the hitters to be anxious to put the ball in play. He felt that anxious-to-swing hitters are poor hitters. Consequently, he threw strikes and very few pitches in most of his games. Sallee's 1919 season might be an excellent example of this style of pitching ... he walked only 20 batters and struck out a microscopic 24 in 227 innings. With so many balls constantly in play when Sallee was pitching, he was a bit famous for giving up a lot of hits. But, he was also known for being very tough to hit safely when it mattered. On July 17, he gave-up 13 hits against Brooklyn, yet won the game 5-1, and also gave-up 13 hits in beating Chicago on September 26. On September 1, also against Chicago, he was slaughtered for 14 hits ... but beat Hippo Vaughn, 4-2. Thus, giving-up 9 hits (several of which were not well struck, I might add) in Game 7 of the World Series was not out of the ordinary for Sallee. In fact, his Game 7 performance pretty much mirrored his Game 2 performance, when he gave-up 10 hits in beating the White Sox, 4-2. However, his defense failed him in Game 7, and the Reds lost.
I should also mention, or remind, that baseball players are capable of having bad games or a bad series of games. Speaking of which, Edd Roush and Heinie Groh, the two stars of Ms. Dellinger's book, hit a poor .214 and .172, respectively, in the 1919 World Series. And they did this against pitchers that were, purportedly, trying to lose. Following Roush's logic (that because Sallee and Ruether lost their games they must have conspired with gamblers), I guess Edd and Heinie, who didn't play well (Roush DID have a superlative WS as an outfielder), also must have been on the take.
A further observation:
Sallee also seems to be guilty by association in that he had taken Ruether, the young fellow left-handed pitcher, under his wing in 1919. Slim was Ruether's mentor and Dutch later gave credit to Sallee for teaching him how to win ball games at the major league level. For whatever reason, Edd Roush didn't care for Dutch Ruether. I think if one reviews all of Edd Roush's late-in-life interviews, this is very clear. Because Sallee was Ruether's mentor, it would seem that Roush's dislike for Ruether translated to a dislike for Sallee. Or one can only presume.
With that said, it is likely Roush and Sallee didn't get along regardless of relationships with others. Roush was a difficult, opinionated personality with a very large ego. This is a known fact. In contrast, here is a quote from an article written by F.C. Lane and published in the April 1920 Baseball Magazine ("Slim Sallee, the Man Whose Luck Has Lasted for Twelve Years"):
"Sallee is generous to a fault, easy going, considerate of others and in particular, resents injustice. Once when he was going up in the elevator of his hotel a fellow-passenger loudly berated the elevator boy for not pausing at his floor. To this the boy humbly remonstrated that he had not heard the floor mentioned. 'I told you plainly enough,' snapped the passenger, 'and I shall report ...,' but he got no further. 'You didn't say a word, you big, sour stiff,' said Sallee, and the conversation abruptly ended."
Given the clashing personality types, I'm fairly certain Slim Sallee and Edd Roush didn't have Sunday tea together.
I believe this is what occurred:
Edd Roush had heard for years that his Cincinnati Reds team had been handed a World Series championship, specifically that the White Sox were the better team and would have won if the games were played on the up 'n up. This infuriated the egotistical Roush to such a degree that by the time he was an old man, he had retold his side of things so many times that his story had morphed into, "Hell, we were so good, WE WERE THROWING GAMES, TOO!!!!!" Because he didn't like Dutch Ruether and, apparently, Slim Sallee, because these two pitchers were the starting pitchers in Games 6 & 7 that were lost, and because some two-bit local gambler told him later in the Series that the gamblers had gotten to some of the Reds, Roush decided that Dutch and Slim would be his anti-heroes in this well-spun yarn. Roush figured if he could get people to believe this, then they may have a bit more sympathy towards the idea that the 1919 Cincinnati Reds really were a pretty good team. I hate to think that Roush would stoop so low as to use the fact he disliked two of his teammates as a justifiable reason to roast them, but I'm afraid that's what occurred in this instance. The fact that he never told this story using the names Ruether and Sallee until after both men were dead and couldn't respond to his allegations ... which is an extremely cheap shot in and of itself ... says quite a bit about Edd Roush's character. The further fact that he never told this story using the names of Ruether and Sallee until 60 years later, when he was well into his 80s and had recently suffered a stroke, is evidence, to me, that Edd Roush had a credibility issue during this infamous interview.
There has been no evidence presented to support ruining the names of Dutch Ruether and Slim Sallee, at least in the context of their involvement in the 1919 World Series, and I find it a bit hard to believe that many people, including SABR members, believe there is evidence based upon what has been written in this book. I was under the impression SABR was all about excellent research and "dispelling myths," not creating new ones through "hypothetical" revisionist history. I guess I was wrong.
Or maybe there is a silent majority we are not hearing from.
Thanks for your time.
Hello Mr. Macht and fellow Deadballers....
I have been reading with interest the comments made about my book, my
grandfather and even myself on this listserv. I wanted to wait until I
could give a thoughtful response to the concerns of some members about
Red Legs and Black Sox.
Having already responded (offline) to each of you who are actually
reading the book, I will continue to do so. I have no intention of
engaging in a "he said/she said" battle to titillate members of this
chat group But, I will herein publicly address your comments - out of
respect for Mr. Macht, the SABR organization and the scholarly
discourse that it purports.
First, I take complete and personal responsibility for Red Legs and
Black Sox. I believe it to be an honest telling of my grandfather's
thoughts on the events of his life and career. I will address two
topic areas: style and research.
1. Style: Literary license creating scenes with dialogue.
I wanted my book to be a "good read" for SABR and for
I think Jim Thielman said it well:
My position on accuracy is non-fiction needs to strive for that, but we
understand books need to be marketable. ...authors should make an
to capture the basic truth, yet entertain.
2. Research Methodology and Choices
I am a granddaughter first. But, I do have a Ph.D. and am no stranger
to research. (This is my fourth book.) Please be assured that I made
every attempt to reflect historical accuracy. Many of you already know
this and were generous in providing resources.
I first attempted to publish this book 30 years ago. I had all my
granddad’s stories - on audiotape and on record by other writers. That
was the easy part. But, did the stories match the generally-accepted
historical accounts of the time? If not, what was true? So much is eye
witness opinon filtered thru the conduit of memory. I wondered...if
Asinof’s book was based on accounts given by Felsch and Weaver, were
their memories any more “accurate” than Roush’s?
(“History is what a few men decide to agree to.” (?)....Napoleon)
In the beginning, I had no intention of doing an in-depth study of the
1919 WS. This was the “trade-off” required by my publisher. What
began as a simple memoir - my "labor of love" - exploded into a massive
research project. Okay, now, at age 63, I finally had the time...
I joined SABR and attended conventions, picking brains wherever I
could. I met the experts and they guided my path. I gave 18 months of
my life to intensive research. I was learning about 1919 for the first
time and became swept up in the mystery. I lost ten pounds, ignored my
family and my business, and began to feel that I knew the characters.
(Of course I did know many of the Reds having grown up with them
around our house.) I found myself on a journey that included....
- purchase & interlibrary loan of 80+ books on the '19 Series, players
& the period
- 50+ personal interviews with family members and Cincy old-timers
- full days at the Cincy Enquirer, Historial Society & C'town HOF
- untold hours (daily) on Proquest, NewspaperArchive and Ancestry.com
- listening to 20+ audiotaped interviews with granddad including a
of my own plus Ritter, Murdock and sundry other sports writers
(I have them all memorized now - smile)
- sifting thru and organizing 5 large boxes of crumbling newspaper
(beginning in 1909) and scrapbooks saved by my grandmother, Essie
- making sense of 2 reams of Ban Johnson's correspondence and
memorabilia at the C'Town HOF Library (Black Sox File)
- and, of course, a dozen+ daily emails from and to SABR and non-SABR
baseball historians, Roush old-time friends, HOF staffers, etc.
Then, as other authors will understand, there were decisions to make
as many reports were conflicting. I had to make choices. With Seymour,
Luhrs, and Lee Allen as a foundation, I went with Okkonen on the Feds,
Nathan on culture, Pietruza's version of Des Moines gamblers, Lieb and
Kohout on Chase, Schaefer and Lane on deadball mechanics, Fullerton
(via Carney) on the politics/cover-up, Cook on WS stats, & Crim report
on Cincy gamblers. I had 5 devoted "draft readers" who made the
journey with me - 2 family friends and 3 baseball historians. (See book
"Intro" for list of 50+ colleagues who assisted in this project.)
All the while I measured my choices against my grandfather's
opinions, beliefs and stories - my primary and guiding source. I
communicated frequently with Eric Sallee beginning in 2004 and actually
cut part of the book - out of respect for him. (I sent the advance
drafts related to Eric's great cousin to him before the book was
Knowing my book would be scrutinized my esteemed colleagues, I
footnoted everything I could think of. (I apologize for the absence of
an index - not my decision.) I have been invited to speak at four SABR
chapters in the upcoming months allowing us an open forum format for
discussion. I will bring granddad’s “voice” (tapes) and a full
bibliography to those meetings.
I'm sure there was more I could have done...more sources...more
analysis leading to more informed choices, perhaps. A lot was left
out. There is precious little on the second decade of granddad’s
career (Reds & Giants). There wasn’t room for my research on the “team
conflicts” of the 1920’s (Catholics vs. Masons and the KKK). 120 pages
of my manuscript didn’t make the final cut and, in a race to meet the
deadline, editing suffered. (Several of you caught mistakes - thank
Those of you who have published books know that we must make choices.
But the one choice I could NOT finesse were the stories of Edd Roush
that are on record and told to me, personally. It is, after all, HIS
book and HIS telling of the events.
Enough...cette tout. If nothing else, thank you for the opportunity to
look back at my journey.
05-17-2006, 12:07 AM
Great reads, and thanks for posting the articles and SABR info, Rex and woy.
I've been meaning to pick up both Dellinger's book and Carney's book on the Black Sox Scandal, but I just haven't had the time to get around to it yet. To me, the entire scandal and time period with the game's involvement in gambling is one of the most fascinating topics in baseball history, and I'll admit that part of that fascination is because we probably do not know, nor ever will know, the full story behind all the events that took place. The controversy within the scandal, especially Joe Jackson's involvement is one thing, but the constant search for more information has resulted in several new outlooks and theories in recent years.
I've always held a unique viewpoint that I believe the Cobb-Speaker-Wood Affair in 1926-27 was an important parallel to some of the events in the Black Sox Scandal. Cobb and Speaker apparently had information that was damaging to league executives within baseball - Cobb even claimed it could possibly bring baseball to its knees - and some historians believe their threats to publicize this information allowed them to skirt free with no punishment for their accused crimes. It's probably not known if Cobb was telling the truth, but if he and Spoke had anything, I'd love to have seen whatever it is they had on the game.
One so-called conspiracy theory I've always been open-minded about is allowing for the possibility that one or more of the eight banned White Sox players unfairly took the fall in order to preserve integrity and bail out one or more league executives. Specifically, if Cobb or Speaker had information proving any number of league executives being crooked, it could throw an interesting twist in the whole saga of gambling and baseball during that time period. Joe Jackson and Buck Weaver would likely be the two players at the front of that list for being scapegoats unfairly, and it's an interesting theory I've always wondered about. But unfortunately with the information that I know and what's out there now, I'm not sure that can be proven with any degree of certainty beyond any type of muddy conspiracy theory.
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