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Turning the Black Sox White

By Paul Hagen / MLB.com

hornbaker-comiskeyEverybody knows that one of the driving forces behind the 1919 Black Sox scandal was that the White Sox players were so upset with the penny-pinching ways of owner Charles Comiskey that they conspired with gamblers to throw the World Series to the Cincinnati Reds.

But what if what everybody knows is wrong?

That’s the bold premise of Tim Hornbaker in “Turning the Black Sox White: The Misunderstood Legacy of Charles A. Comiskey.” And with the patience of a defense attorney, he builds a compelling case.

To say that point of view is contrarian is an understatement. The Old Roman, as he was known, has been consistently vilified in popular works such as Ken Burns’ acclaimed “Baseball” documentary and the book and movie “Eight Men Out” by Eliot Asinof.

Hornbaker documents numerous occasions when Comiskey went out of his way to show concern for the welfare of his players. As early as 1895, when he owned the St. Paul Saints of the Western League and organized a postseason barnstorming tour that went badly, he saw to it that the players weren’t stranded even though he lost money on the enterprise. On numerous occasions he bought players new clothes and handed out bonuses after big wins.

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