In Play: Soundout- The Betrayal: The 1919 World Series and the Birth of Modern Baseball

Whether you’re in isolation, wishing you were in isolation, working from home or in an empty office wishing you were working from home- there is a good chance that you have some spare time on your hands.


With no everyday baseball and/or baseball news, content for podcast on America’s past time has been somewhat quashed within recent weeks.


Consequently, I have since turned to Amazon’s audio book service, audible in search of high quality audio content to suppress my cravings for baseball. After each completed title, I will be leaving a little synopsis and review of how I found the audio book. Next up…..

The Betrayal: The 1919 World Series and the Birth of Modern Baseball

Length: 11 Hours 29 Minutes

Written by: Charles Fountain

Narrated by: Bob Reed

Rating: 4.5/5


From the date and whereabouts of the original arrangement, to the participants within it, to whether it even occurred, for over a century baseball has debated and deliberated every minor intricacy of the sport’s greatest shadow.


Charles Fountain, a Northeastern University professor does an absolutely superb job of outlining, filling in and where necessary, speculating to provide a complete and comprehensive examination of the most contentious event in America’s pastime.


Fountain begins by setting the landscape of early 20th century baseball, a scene filled with corruption, cheating and match fixing- something which wasn’t legally outlawed. With a changing social landscape and the arrival of the First World War, baseball lost both investment and players to the war effort.


Whether directly or indirectly, the changing American society unquestionably played a role within the 1919 Chicago Black Sox scandal.


The story then develops by detailing the growth and then subsequent destruction of the relationship between White Sox owner, Charles Comiskey and American League creator, Byron ‘Ban’ Johnson.

The relationship’s ruins would come back to be particularly prevalent and strong undertone in the courtrooms with the disgraced Black Sox.


The bulk of the story comes in the form of the White Sox and each of the respective stories of the disgraced eight. With a changing social background and varying personal problems, Fountain eloquently depicts reasons for the Sox to throw the World Series.


The story from start to finish is a sad one, and one we will never fully know the truth over. Part of me likes that, the heir of mystery is some what fitting for such a enigmatic set of characters and subset plots.


Whether the Black Sox successfully threw the series we will never know. Whether the Black Sox agreed to throw the series and actually played to win, we will never know. Whether facets of the Black Sox were double crossed by varying gambling rings, we will never know..


Fountain does a brilliant job of encapsulating the mystery by laying the various tales, newspaper stories and anecdotes (which all vary in reliability and bias) out for you, the listener to decide upon.


Money changed hands. The Black Sox agreed to throw the World Series. That is fact.


Shoeless Joe Jackson hitting and leading the World Series in hitting (0.375) with 12 hits, no errors and the only HR is also a fact.


What you believe in between those lines is down to the reader and part of the great mystery of the 1919 World Series.


Without the 1919 World Series we would never have:

21(a) MISCONDUCT IN PLAYING BASEBALL. Any player or person connected with a Club who shall promise or agree to lose, or to attempt to lose, or to fail to give his best efforts towards the winning of any baseball game with which he is or may be in any way concerned, or who shall intentionally lose or attempt to lose, or intentionally fail to give his best efforts towards the winning of any such baseball game, or who shall solicit or attempt to induce any player or person connected with a Club to lose or attempt to lose, or to fail to give his best efforts towards the winning of any baseball game with which such other player or person is or may be in any way concerned, or who, being solicited by any person, shall fail to inform the Commissioner (in the case of a player or person associated with a Major League Club) or the President of the Minor League Association (in the case of a player or person associated with an independent Minor League Club) immediately of such solicitation, and of all facts and circumstances connected therewith, shall be declared permanently ineligible.
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