History Book – A baseball scandal, and the National Cathedral


NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Monday, September 28th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Coming next on The World and Everything in It:  the WORLD History Book.

Twenty five years ago, the Oslo II Accord set a roadmap for peace. Plus, this week marks the completion of the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.

EICHER: But first, 100 years ago today, a major league baseball scandal that shakes fans’ confidence in the game. Here’s Paul Butler.

PAUL BUTLER, REPORTER: On September 28th, 1920, Chicago White Sox pitcher Eddie Cicotte appears before a grand jury. He confesses to throwing the 1919 World Series. It becomes known as the Black Sox Scandal. 

Less than a month later, the grand jury implicates eight players.

NEWSREEL: Found guilty of conspiracy to fix the World Series, are eight Chicago White Sox players and thousands mourned that baseball wasn’t fully honest. 

For nearly a hundred years, conventional wisdom has been that White Sox owner Charles Comisky was a miser that took advantage of his players. When approached by a gambling syndicate, some of the team’s players conspire to get even. 

But last year, the Society for American Baseball Research released newly uncovered evidence that paints a slightly different picture. It argued that Comisky paid his players more than most other owners at the time. Instead of revenge, the SABR research says it was greed, plain and simple, that led to the scandal. Jacob Pomrenke headed up the study. 

POMRENKE: This idea that the Black Sox players conspired to fix the World Series because they were underpaid, because they felt resentful toward their salaries, or their poor treatment by their owner doesn’t really hold up to scrutiny. I think the Black Sox players saw a high reward for what they were doing. I think they saw very little risk of ever being caught. 

Audio from a 2019 PBS Newshour interview. Pomrenke also believes sports gambling in the early 20th century was more wide-spread than traditionally believed. 

POMRENKE: This is one of the most important aspects of understanding the Black Sox scandal, is to know just how rampant the gambling culture was at this time. We actually don’t know if any other World Series were fixed, but it’s possible that some other World Series was fixed before 1919. 

Jacob Pomrenke, along with many others, see the Black Sox Scandal as a poignant warning for today, as sports leagues sanction betting across the board. 

Next, September 29th, 1990:

AUDIO: [SOUND FROM NATIONAL CATHEDRAL]

Stone masons set the last stone finial at the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul—better known as Washington National Cathedral. Construction began exactly 83 years earlier. The cathedral was built entirely with private funds, and is maintained by the Episcopal Church of America.

It has been the site of U.S. presidential inauguration prayer services, notable funerals, and memorial services for national tragedies like the 9/11 day of prayer and remembrance. 

Many famous people are buried on the premises, including Helen Keller, Matthew Shepherd, and U.S President Woodrow Wilson and his wife Edith. Last year, more than 270-thousand people visited the church.

And finally, Sep 28th, 1995, 25 years ago today:

CLINTON: We revere the determination of these leaders who chose peace. Who rejected the old habits of hatred and revenge. Today the landscape changes, and the chasm narrows. 

U.S. President Bill Clinton, with 100 domestic and international guests witness the ceremonial signing of the Oslo II Accord between Israel and the Palestinians. 

PLO chairman Yasser Arafat:

ARAFAT: I tell you with courage and a sense of responsibility that our participation in the peace process means we are betting everything on the future. 

Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin:

RABIN: We gentlemen will not allow terrorism to defeat peace.  We will not allow it. 

CNN reports that “Clinton beamed as PLO and Israeli representatives inked the agreement, and Rabin and Arafat shared a hearty handshake.” Vice President Al Gore’s wife Tipper became the center of attention for a moment, when she famously snapped a candid photo with a camera she pulled from her purse. 

The Oslo II Accord was only an interim agreement as it primarily laid the groundwork for future negotiations. Despite the high hopes for peace, leaders eventually abandoned the roadmap of the Oslo II Accord without a final agreement.

That’s this week’s WORLD History Book, I’m Paul Butler.


(Photo/AP) Chicago White Sox ace Eddie Cicotte is shown in an undated photo.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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