Photograph of the 1919 Chicago White Sox American League baseball team who won the World Series that year against the Cincinnati Reds. They were later involved in the Black Sox scandal for throwing games in the World Series.
About the Team
The Chicago White Sox of 1919 were one of baseball's glamour teams. Using very much the same players, they had won the 1917 World Series over the New York Giants in a convincing manner, by four games to two. They had fallen to sixth place in the American League in 1918, largely as a result to losing their best player Shoeless Joe Jackson, along with a few others, to World War I. Team owner Charlie Comiskey fired manager Pants Rowland after the season, replacing him with 20-year Major League veteran Kid Gleason, who was getting his first managerial assignment. The White Sox were back on top of the American League in 1919, finishing with a record of 88-52, 3.5 games in front of the Cleveland Indians.
Jackson was the unchallenged star of the team. The left fielder hit .351 that season, fourth in the American League and also finished in the AL's top five in slugging percentage, runs batted in, total bases and base hits. He was not alone on the team, however, as Eddie Collins, one of the greatest second basemen ever, was still going strong in his early 30's, hitting .319 with a .400 on base percentage at the top of the line-up. Right fielder Nemo Leibold was another .300 hitter, hitting .302 while scoring 81 runs, in a line-up that hardly had a weak spot. First baseman Chick Gandil hit .290, third baseman Buck Weaver was at .296, and center fielder Oscar "Happy" Felsch hit .275 while tying with Jackson for the team lead in home runs with 7. Even catcher Ray Schalk, a typical Deadball Era "good field, no hit" catcher, hit .282 that year, and shortstop Swede Risberg was not an automatic out with his .256 average and 38 runs batted in. Manager Gleason even had two good hitters on the bench, outfielder Shano Collins and infielder Fred McMullin, who were both veterans of the 1917 campaign.
On the mound, the White Sox depended on a pair of aces, backed by a very promising rookie. Knuckleballer Eddie Cicotte had become one of the American League's best pitchers after turning 30 and discovering the "shine ball"; he had won 28 games for the 1917 champions, and after an off-year in 1918, had come back with an outstanding 29-7 record, leading the league in Wins and finishing second in Earned Run Average to Walter Johnson. He was backed by Claude "Lefty" Williams, who had posted a 23-11 record with a 2.64 ERA. 26-year old rookie Dickie Kerr only started 17 games but maintained a solid 13-7 record with a 2.88 ERA. The back end of the staff included Urban "Red" Faber, who had beaten the Giants three times in the 1917 World Series but had had an off-year in 1919, finishing 11-9, 3.83 in 20 starts. Unfortunately, Faber was injured and not able to pitch in the Series. This limited Gleason to only three starters in a possible nine games.
All was not well in the White Sox camp, besides. Tensions between many of the players and owner Comiskey were very high, with the players complaining of his penny-pinching ways, which are reflected in two urban legends: the first is that Comiskey instructed Gleason to sit down Cicotte at the end of the year in order that he would not win 30 games, a milestone which would have earned him a sizeable bonus; the second was that the team was known derisively as the Black Sox because Comiskey would not pay to have their uniforms washed regularly.