Red Legs and Black Sox

Dellinger, Susan. Red Legs and Black Sox: Edd Roush and the Untold Story of the 1919 World Series.  Cincinnati, Ohio; Emmis Books, 2006.

The Cincinnati Reds have won five World Series Championships.  For most modern fans, the Big Red Machine (1975, 1976) and the Nasty Boys (1990) probably come to mind first among the championship teams.  The 1940 team (notable players include Hall of Famer Ernie Lombardi and back-to-back no-hitter tosser Johnny Vander Meer – who didn’t play much in 1940) would be the one I would forget.  Prewar/Depression baseball is not a heavily chronicled era outside of St. Louis and New York.  But, hands down, the most famous of their World Series was the 1919 championship, where the Reds defeated a White Sox team that included eight players who would later be banned from baseball for throwing the same series.  While there is a taint on this championship, the banner flies with the other four at Great American.

The 1919 series lives on in popular culture and was a turning point in baseball history.  The dead ball era, of great pitching stats and no home runs, “officially” ended in 1919 with the Jazz Age Babe Ruth long ball era starting in 1920.  While popular nonfiction titles are occasionally based on the dead ball era such as biographies of Christy Matthewson, the story of the last Chicago Cubs team to win a championship (1908), or a new look on just how bad of a person Ty Cobb was, these will never overtake Joe Jackson (who had some of his best years playing with Cleveland prior to getting traded in 1915).  Jackson, an outfielder with the White Sox in 1919, was found to have taken cash, but also had probably the best offensive numbers of any player during the series. It is this contradiction that helped make him an anti-hero type that fills up American History and why there is still a movement to get him into the Hall of Fame.  Continue reading