I had previously done the Trivia Teasers books in pairs—Red Sox and Yankees, Broncos and Red Wings—and I agreed to handle the Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Browns with a publishing date of April 2008. But it was different this time. Mike Nucklebone, the managing editor at Big Earth, had a problem with some other author and asked me to add a third, which was about the St. Louis Cardinals. I was willing to do it, since I was still hoping and trusting that all this work would pay off. I had scarcely begun researching about the White Sox when I received a second royalty statement from the Wisconsin idiots. Let’s just say it was profoundly disappointing. Either they were fudging the numbers or the books were not selling. Little thought was required before I decided I was through doing the Trivia Teasers. I would fulfill my contract for the White Sox, Browns and Cards, and then no more.
Before starting on this book, I had not been aware that the White Sox essentially borrowed their name from the cross-town Cubs when they began play in 1901. One of the Cubbies’ earlier names had been White Stockings, and owner Charles Comiskey, the “Old Roman,” took it for his new team. They won the first American League pennant, but the National League would not agree to engage in postseason competition—the World Series—until 1903.
I devoted the entire second chapter of this book to the Black Sox scandal, in which eight members of the White Sox conspired to throw the 1919 World Series to the Cincinnati Reds. Even after nine decades, we do not know for sure whether Shoeless Joe Jackson was part of the plot since his numbers were so good. He had 12 hits, a .375 average, no errors and threw out a runner at the plate from left field. The story about a little boy confronting Jackson with the plaintive words “Say it ain’t so, Joe” after his testimony in a Chicago courthouse were a myth, or so said the defrocked baseball star in later years.
Even if Jackson were not involved—and he almost certainly took $5,000 from the gamblers orchestrating the fix—seven teammates were. What the 1919 White Sox did was really not so rare in that day and time. Throwing games, whether in the regular season or in the World Series, had been an open secret or at least widely rumored for many years. Nevertheless, it was Comiskey’s Sox who got caught and still suffer the shame. They did not get back to the World Series until 1959, losing to the Los Angeles Dodgers, and did not win it until 2005.
I enjoyed learning about some of the White Sox’ stars from those years, such as third baseman/manager Jimmy Dykes, pitcher Ted Lyons and left fielder Saturnino Orestes Armas Miñoso Arrieta, better known as Minnie Minoso, the “Cuban Comet.” How about the splendid double-play combination of Nellie Fox and Luis Aparicio? I liked the ChiSox, although they were far from my Texas home. Nucklebone put slugging first baseman Frank Thomas on the cover, and that was a good choice.