The 1917 World Series

As a sign of how pervasive and accepted betting on major league baseball was in the late 1910s, here’s a picture from the Chicago Tribune in the aftermath of the White Sox beating the N.Y. Giants in game 6 on Monday, October 15 to win the 1917 World Series:


The caption reads: “Pat Piper, announcer at the Cubs park, as a loyal National leaguer, upheld the Giants’ chances to beat the Sox. His friend, Percy Curtis, of a score card concern, could see nothing but the Sox.” Curtis won $100 on the bet and also won “a ride around the loop in a wheelbarrow” powered by Piper.

Sidebars to the main story on the clinching game 6 in the Polo Grounds said:
“Betting Heaviest of Series”:
“The wagering probably was the heaviest of any day of the series, with practically every Sox fan in the city attempting to get down a large or small wager. . . . George Cohan is credited with winning over $20,000 on the result. He put up $2,600 Saturday and had $2,500 on the Sox for yesterday’s game, when he went east Saturday night. The rest hung on the result of the series.”

“Newsboy Cleans Up $2,000”:
“Willie Pope, the newsboy who handles Tribunes at the corner of Clark and La Salle streets, nicked a visiting New Yorker for $2,000, getting the wager last week when, to the visitor’s great surprise at such affluence, he dug up the roll in defiance of remarks disparaging to the Sox.”

Finally, under the headline “Bets on New York Curb Total Under $100,000”:
“The sum paid off to successful bettors today was less than $100,000, whereas last year it was something like $250,000. Bill Darnell, put and call broker, was reported as having made the biggest clearing, said to be around $25,000, which he put on the White Sox to win the series.”

And even before the game story started, right beneath the headline, the Tribune featured the money elements of the Series:


The point is that obviously the Black Sox in 1919 didn’t happen in a vacuum: by 1917 a whole baseball betting culture was thriving, and the Sox players two years later tried to capitalize on it.

As for the game itself, here’s a picture of Chick Gandil, who drove in two in the fourth inning with a key single, “which meant the World’s title and Winner’s Share of Melon”:


A wider shot with the headline:


The game account by I.E. Sanborn started off by lauding pitcher Red Faber, who won his third game of the Series, Gandil, and Eddie Collins. Collins escaped the Giants’ third baseman Heinie Zimmerman in a rundown in the fourth to run home for the Sox’ first run: “Heine Zim run a footrace with Eddie Collins from third base to the home plate. Eddie had four feet of a start and he finished just four feet ahead of the Bronx boy. That was the first run for Chicago, and Heine Zim had actually chased it right over the plate.”

Then Gandil hit his two-run single, and Faber took over from there: a 4-2 win. Check out the box score and play-by-play. And the Series summary.

Afterward, Charles A. Comiskey said: “The White Sox once more are champions of the world and I feel as if nothing in baseball matters from now on.”

And the Tribune’s James Crusinberry wrote: “Even the electric signs along the gay white way seem dim tonight! New York has had a blow that made it sick. A bombardment from German flyers couldn’t have done much more damage. New York was so sick it didn’t even fight.”
“It is calm tonight from Harlem to Bowling Green, and if one stands at Forty-second street and Broadway, one might think one was in Evanston, for all New York is sick. The only live persons in town are the few from Chicago who are marching on the sidewalks and pushing all the citizens into the new subway excavation.”

And, in his “In the Wake of the News” feature, Ring Lardner attempted his own (satirical) game summary from Chicago. The bottom of the ninth: “McGraw substituted Sallee as pinch hitter for Burns. He doubled. Herzog re-doubled and was set four tricks. The Kaiser batted for Kauff and hit into a quadruple play, Serbia to France to England to Wilson. No runs.
“The seventh game of the series will be played tomorrow at Petrograd, and the admission will be free, as it should have been all the time.”