The gripping story of how one of the most infamous scandals in American history—the Black Sox scandal—continued for nearly a year following the fixed World Series of 1919 until the truth began to emerge.
The Black Sox scandal has fascinated sports fans for over one hundred years. But while the focus has traditionally been on the fixed 1919 World Series, the reality is that it continued well into the following season—and members of the Chicago White Sox very likely continued to fix games. The result was a year of suspicion, intrigue, and continued betrayal.
In Double Plays and Double Crosses: The Black Sox and Baseball in 1920, Don Zminda tells the story of an unforgettable team and an unforgettable year in baseball and American history. Zminda reveals in captivating detail how the Black Sox scandal unfolded in 1920, the level of involvement in game-fixing by notable players like Shoeless Joe Jackson and Buck Weaver, and the complicity of White Sox management in covering up details of the scandal. In addition, Zminda provides an in-depth investigation of games during the 1920 season that were likely fixed and the discovery during the year of other game-fixing scandals that rocked baseball.
Throughout 1920, the White Sox continued to play—and usually win—despite mistrust among teammates. Double Plays and Double Crosses tells for the first time what happened during this season, when suspicion was rampant and the team was divided between “clean” players and those suspected of fixing the 1919 World Series.
Don Zminda spent more than two decades with STATS LLC, first as director of publications and then director of research for STATS-supported sports broadcasts. He has written or edited over a dozen sports books, including The Legendary Harry Caray: Baseball’s Greatest Salesman (Rowman & Littlefield, 2019) and the SABR publication Go-Go to Glory: The 1959 Chicago White Sox. He has been a member of the Society for Baseball Research since 1979. A Chicago native, Zminda now resides in Los Angeles.
Foreword by Rob Neyer
1. Prelude: 1917
2. A Cold (and Dry) New Year
3. Detective Stories
6. A Good Start
7. The Absent Brother
8. Trials and Triumphs
9. Abe Tells
10. Scandal, Tragedy—and First Place
11. The Suspicious Slump
12. The Grand Jury
14. A Bitter Month
15. Here Comes the Judge
Epilogue: Trials, Tribulations, and Thoughts
About the Author
The 1919 Black Sox baseball scandal, in which Chicago White Sox players were accused of deliberately losing the World Series under pressure from gamblers, still resonates across sports. The scandal itself has been well examined previously; here, Chicago native Zminda breaks new ground with an in-depth study of the following year, 1920. Zminda’s exhaustive research reveals that game-fixing continued into that next season, with the Chicago team divided between the so-called Black Sox players and those who were uninvolved: the Clean Sox. Tracing the scandal’s fallout and the division among those Chicago teammates, Zminda exposes the full extent of corruption throughout Major League Baseball, beyond what has generally been known. Impeccable research and a fan’s eye for detail make Zminda’s account the unexpected missing link in the ever-fascinating story of the tainted 1919 World Series and the beginning of baseball’s recovery afterward. Included are photographs of key players in the White Sox franchise. One hundred years after the notorious Black Sox scandal, baseball scholars and historians will find this an essential study of a previously unexplored chapter of the game’s history. An important addition to baseball collections, especially for academic and specialty libraries.
A century before baseball fans had Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens—stars whose reputations were sullied beyond repair, their chances for inclusion in the Hall of Fame dimmed by their suspected use of performance-enhancing drugs — to stew over, they had the Chicago Black Sox. Or, at the very least, they had the story of the Black Sox scandal as it was fed to a thirsty public and passed down through generations: a group of gullible and underpaid baseball players seduced and coerced by nefarious gamblers into conspiring to throw the 1919 World Series. From the start, that narrative had all the sappy sentimentality—and credibility—of a romance novel, starting with the scene of Joe Jackson, the brightest of the Chicago stars and one of the greatest hitters of his day, being tailed by a gaggle of young fans as he leaves the Cook County courthouse after testifying before a grand jury.... That fable of baseball’s lost innocence is just one of the myths Don Zminda tees up and knocks out of the park in Double Plays and Double Crosses.
Among the highlights are Zminda’s editorial observations in which he follows through on the widely-held suspicion that the White Sox continued along the game-fixing path during the 1920 season; having scoured the box scores and contemporaneous accounts of the games, he plucks some likely candidates for fixes, including the players who were likely participants in a given game. It is incredibly thorough, a granular examination of potential cheating that many fans will likely find engrossing. . . . In addition, we also get a wonderful look at the game writ large, a sense of the state of the sport in the cultural consciousness in 1920. . . . “Double Plays and Double Crosses” will prove a delight to anyone with an interest in baseball’s history. It is thoroughly researched and engagingly constructed, revealing new details of the tales we know while also introducing readers to new stories with which they might be less familiar. Don Zminda’s passion for the sport in general and this subject in particular is apparent on every page, resulting in an enthralling account of one of the most fascinating moments in the history of a game packed full of fascination.
An eye-opening account of the Black Sox scandal that adds new and important information. A needed addition to any baseball library.
A vital addition to the library of baseball history, Don Zminda tells the compelling story of how the 1919 Chicago Black Sox “threw” the 1920 pennant before they were “outed.” Countless words have been written about the infamous 1919 World Series, and here’s the first look at the great 1920 team that likely gave away a number of games. As Chicago manager Kid Gleason said, “I had the greatest ball club ever put together when those pinheads went wrong.” A 96-win club could have . . . should have won well over 100. Here’s how it happened.
The story of the 1919 Black Sox is also the story of the Clean Sox, and the 1920 season when the two camps butted heads in a manner not seen in the disputed World Series. Don Zminda sorts the 'laundry' of the Sox in this important extended view of the scandal that changed baseball forever.
The story of the fixing of the 1919 World Series – and its substantial aftermath – has often been misleadingly written about and portrayed on the screen. Thankfully, White Sox historian Don Zminda gets it right, in the process shedding substantial and needed light on the aftermath. You want the facts about the Black Sox? Read this book.
In order to fully understand the 1919 Black Sox Scandal, one must also closely examine the play of the Chicago White Sox in 1920. Don Zminda tells us why in compelling fashion. It makes for a fascinating read.
Zminda's Double Plays and Double Crosses is a fantastically researched, well-written, entertaining deep dive into the 1920 White Sox, American League pennant race, and 1919 World Series gambling scandal that finally came to light late in the 1920 season. It's an essential addition to the growing library of books about the Black Sox scandal.
The 1920 baseball season—between the 1919 World Series and the expulsion of the Black Sox—was one of the most fascinating in history, as crookedness and rumors of crookedness cast a shadow over baseball and a wide assortment of its characters. With clarity and style, Don Zminda delightfully brings to life the season, its genesis, and its aftermath.
6/29/2021: Author Don Zminda joined the crew of the Baseball by the Book Podcast to talk about one of America’s earliest and most infamous baseball scandals.