Movie Mirrors Index

Eight Men Out

(1988 c 119')

En: 7 Ed: 8

Based on the nonfiction book by Eliot Asinof and directed by John Sayles, seven of the Chicago White Sox are bribed by gamblers to lose the World Series because of poor pay and treatment by the owner.
      In 1919 in Chicago the small boy Scooter runs on the street after “Buck” Weaver (John Cusack). He buys two tickets to see the Chicago White Sox play and takes his little brother with him.
      In the press box Hugh Fullerton (Studs Terkel) says that the owner Commie, who provides drinks, knows the way to a sportswriter’s heart. Charles “Commie” Comiskey (Clifton James) comes into the press box and asks if everyone is happy. He leads men into another room with a banquet table of food and says he has the team to win. He says Kid Gleason is doing a great job managing them. He says they eat, travel, and play together for the good of the team with no prima donnas.
      On the field players rib Eddie Collins (Bill Irwin) because he goes to bed early, calling him “college boy.”
      Comiskey says that even with 3-1 odds in their favor any bet against his Sox in this World Series is a sucker bet. He says he is not a gambling man and laughs.
      In the stands “Sleepy” Bill Burns (Christopher Lloyd) says that Collins is the only man being paid what he is worth, and that is because he had it in his contract when he was traded. The gambler says that Arnold “Chick” Gandil (Michael Rooker) might do business.
      Comiskey says that Gandil is the only first baseman who does not even need a glove because he has hands of steel; but he will put his money on Joe Jackson because he can hit, run, and throw. A writer says if he could read, he would be perfect.
      Players make fun of “Shoeless Joe” Jackson (D. B. Sweeney) for talking to his bat, but Claude “Lefty” Williams (James Read) tells them to leave him alone. Gandil says the South lost the war, and Oscar “Hap” Felsch (Charlie Sheen) says it was in all the papers. Jackson hits a triple. A fan yells at Jackson, asking if he can spell cat, but Jackson asks if he can spell a four-letter word. Burns says Weaver is one of the boys, but he does not like to lose. Weaver grounds out and kicks the dirt in anger. Burns says he can’t stand to lose, and he tells his friend Billy Maharg (Richard Edson) to put him on the maybe list. Maharg asks about the catcher Ray Schalk (Gordon Clapp), and Burns dismisses him.
      Eddie Cicotte (David Strathairn) is pitching, and Comiskey says he has two or three good seasons left in his arm. The batter hits two foul balls over the wall, but then Cicotte throws a knuckle ball and strikes him out. Comiskey says he has the best knuckle ball he ever saw in fifty years. Ring Lardner (John Sayles) asks Fullerton why he does not pay him a living wage. Burns says that Cicotte is getting old, and his arm is dragging; but he is the key. If they don’t get him, they will have to forget it. Hap Felsch makes a great catch and hits the wall. Burns says Jackson has no brains, but Felsch is dumb. The manager William “Kid” Gleason (John Mahoney) tells Hap to save it, and Hap asks for what.
      The winning White Sox players go into the dressing-room and see bottles of champagne. Harry tells them that Comiskey sent them down for their successful pennant race. Cicotte asks about the bonus he promised them if they won the pennant; but Harry says this is their bonus. They grumble. Gleason says if it was up to him, and Cicotte says they have no beef with him. Cicotte opens a bottle and says it is flat. He tosses the cork to Harry and puts the bottle down as the men walk away.
      In the press box the writers drink a toast to Comiskey and throw their glasses in a fireplace.
      The players come out on the field for a team picture. Fullerton asks the black janitor Winslow about his team, and Winslow says they are the best white folks’ team he has seen. Lardner says they are the best ever, but Hugh says time will tell. Buck tells the players to pretend it is Comiskey’s wake, and they laugh as the picture is taken.
      A woman is singing “After You’ve Gone” in a restaurant. They players drink, smoke, and talk. Gandil tells women he is a good performer on the field too. Joseph “Sport” Sullivan (Kevin Tighe) tells Gandil that with his hands he should have been a boxer. Burns tells Maharg that Sullivan is a gambler from Boston, but he does not think he will beat them to it. Gandil tells how he broke a guy’s jaw and knocked out his teeth but got only fifty bucks. What they should have done was waltz around so that they could split the $50 without anyone getting hurt. Sullivan says Chick is smart, and he is the man he sees when in town. Gandil says Sullivan does not play the angles and is a sap. Sullivan tells the ladies to powder their noses. Other players talk about Comiskey, and Buck says no one owns him. A pretty woman tells Williams it is time and that he promised; they leave. Hap says Williams went to see his wife while they were in Philadelphia, and two other players laugh.
      At a table Gandil tells Sullivan to suppose. He says they need two starting pitchers, a couple of infielders, and some heavy hitters if you really want to be sure. Sullivan asks about the Sox, and Gandil says six or seven would go for it if he paid them at least $10,000 a piece. He asks who could put that kind of money together, but Sullivan laughs and says he could. Gandil asks if he could raise seventy grand in Boston quickly and doubts it. Sullivan says he finds it hard to believe that six or more players on a championship team would throw the World Series. Gandil says he never played for Charlie Comiskey.
      In the men’s room Gandil tells Charles “Swede” Risberg (Don Harvey) if they got $10,000 in advance and bet it on the Reds at good odds, it would multiply. Fred McMullin (Perry Lang) comes in and asks him to let him in on it. Gandil asks what he means. Fred says the fix. Swede tells him he is in and to let them work out the details and keep a lid on it. Fred goes out, and Gandil says he knows he is Swede’s buddy; but he is not even going to play. Swede insists that he is in. Gandil says okay. Burns comes in and shakes hands with Gandil, saying he wants to pitch something to him.
      Hugh congratulates the players on their season, and Lardner says he is surprised to see them in a gin mill.
      Coming back in, Swede tells Gandil they can deal with both. Gandil asks what happens if they find out about each other. Swede asks what can they do, call the cops? Maharg asks Burns where they can get $10,000 each for six or seven players. Burns says that only one man can back that, and Maharg knows it is Rothstein. Burns says they need Rothstein and Cicotte.
      Cicotte’s wife is rubbing down his pitching arm, and he says he will go three games in the series. She says he always does fine. He says when he throws a fast ball, he really feels it. His knuckle ball just goes where it wants. His two daughters look in, and his wife says he is going to pitch in the World Series.
      In the street at night Buck Weaver tells the two little boys that he stunk up the place, and he gives them their two bits back. Scooter says he will do better in the World Series. He says they named the younger one after Bucky, but he likes Joe Jackson best. Little Bucky asks him to show them some tricks, and Weaver plays ball with them on the sidewalk.
      Walking up stairs, Cicotte tells Gandil to forget it because he makes $6,000 a year, and a lot of people are out of work. Gandil asks how long his arm will hold up. He says if he got hurt, Comiskey would not even pay his train fare home. Cicotte tells him to get off his back, and Gandil asks him to hear him out. Cicotte says he has a meeting with the old man, and he gets in an elevator.
      In Comiskey’s office Cicotte says he promised him a $10,000 bonus if he won thirty games this year. He says he owes it to him. Comiskey asks Harry how many games Cicotte won this year, and Harry says 29. Cicotte says Comiskey had the manager bench him for two weeks in August, and he missed five starts. Comiskey says they had to rest his arm for the series, but Cicotte says he would have won at least two of those games. Comiskey says he has to keep the best interests of the club in mind. Comiskey refuses to pay the bonus and asks if there is anything else. Cicotte says no and leaves.
      On the street Cicotte is thinking. He sits by Gandil in the hotel lobby and tells him he wants ten grand before the first game in cash.
      In New York at a race track Maharg points out to Burns a featherweight boxer who lost a fight on purpose. The boxer has $100 bills and tells them they do not take nickel bets there. Burns knows he is Abe Attell (Michael Mantell) who says “Sleepy” Bill Burns lost more games than he won. Attell says he saw Billy Maharg fight and says he is a bum. Maharg says Attell works for Rothstein, and Burns says they have a proposition that could mean big money. Attell says he is Rothstein’s ears and that he would like to hear it. Attell has listened to Arnold Rothstein (Michael Lerner) and signals with thumbs down to Burns who tells Maharg it is no dice.
      Swede tells Lefty Williams he can see the advantages, and he says they have Cicotte in the bag already. Lefty questions that, and Swede says Cicotte will lose three games, making it a done deal. He says they did not want to leave Lefty without the pay. Williams says if he has Cicotte, he has him too. His wife from another room asks who that is. He says it is a salesman, and she says they don’t want any.
      Coming down stairs Rothstein in a red, silk robe asks Attell about boxers. Attell says they could make money on that series thing, but Rothstein says he is not interested. Attell says they could cut out Burns and Maharg. Rothstein asks what happens to the odds when word gets out that he is betting against the Sox. Attell says they can bet through these guys. Rothstein asks how long they will keep their mouths shut. Attell says they have six of seven guys and are the champs. Rothstein says that Abe was the champ too and went down for bucks. Abe says this is different. Rothstein says he grew up with guys like this. He was the fat kid they wouldn’t let play. They told him to sit down and learn something. He says he learned, and pretty soon he owned the game. Now those guys come to him. He asks Attell how much he made in his years of fighting. Rothstein says he made ten times more betting while he was slugging; but Attell says he was champion of the world. Rothstein says that was yesterday, but Attell says nothing can take that away. Attell says he will see him later and leaves. Rothstein calls Nat and tells him to have Sullivan come over and use the service entrance.
      In a bar Attell tells Burns and Maharg that Rothstein is in, but he wants his name kept out of it. In a phone booth Attell asks Joey to pay his debt to Rothstein. He does not have to pay the $40,000, but he is glad he will pay ten or fifteen.
      Sullivan comes in to see Rothstein and says it is the series. He can get eight men in including Cicotte. Rothstein asks why he needs him. Sullivan says that Boston is a small town, and he needs more money. Rothstein tells him not to take on more than he can handle. Sullivan says if Rothstein gets on the Reds, the odds change fast; but he can bet without people knowing. Rothstein tells him not to do anything until he hears from him. Sullivan goes out.
      Sullivan is talking with his friend Jimmy, and a man from Rothstein says he wants to talk to Sullivan alone. Jimmy goes away, and the man says Rothstein is in. He tosses $40,000 on the table and tells him to give it to the players up front. Then he tosses another $40,000 to be withheld until they have lost the series. He tells Cicotte to hit the first batter to show that the fix is on. If anyone connects Rothstein with this, he will come see him again. Sullivan tells him to tell Rothstein that he has his word. The man walks away, and Jimmy comes back and sees the money. Sullivan gives Jimmy $20,000 and tells him to take it to Boston and bet it on Cincinnati to win the first game. He is to tell Mulcahy it is a hunch he’s got. Then he is to go to McGinnis and bet $10,000 on the Reds to win the series. Jimmy asks about the players, and Sullivan says you only feed a dray horse enough so that he knows he is hungry.
      On a train Hugh says he heard that Gandil deals from the bottom. Lardner sits down and asks Cicotte about his arm. He says Hugh is betting on them to win the series. Cicotte says anything can happen in baseball. Gandil tells Hap Felsch and Buck Weaver that he wants to give them a chance to get in on the deal for losing a couple games. Hap asks if it is a couple games or the whole series. Buck comes over and asks what they are talking about. Hap asks about Jackson, and Gandil says that Swede is pitching him now. Hap says if Joe is not in, he is not in. Hap warns them what will happen if they cross a guy like Rothstein. Sullivan comes over and offers them two bottles to drink.
      Swede finds Jackson staring at a candle with one eye covered. Joe says it is good for his batting eye. Swede says the guys got together, and they are going to drop a couple games in the series. Joe asks who, and Swede says Cicotte, Gandil, Lefty, himself, Fred, Hap, and Bucky. Swede says he told them they can’t leave Joe out of this; he says they need him. Swede tells him it would be stupid not to do it. Joe says he does not know, and Swede tells him not to piss everybody off.  Joe says okay, and Swede says he only has to ease off a bit. He says he will get ten grand plus the World Series money. Swede says Chick is working on it.
      In the hall Sullivan tells Chick Gandil that if they show something, they will see some more money. Gandil tells Swede that everything is swell. He tells him to have some drinks with Burns and Maharg and get some jack so that Gandil can talk with the boys. Swede asks about Bucky, and Gandil says he is one of the boys.
      In Cincinnati in a crowd Hugh tells Lardner that the odds were 7-3 in favor of the Sox, but now it is even money. Lardner is surprised. Hugh says someone in New York may know something they don’t.
      In a room Attell tells Gandil and Swede that the money is all out on bets but that they will get it soon enough. Attell says they will get $100,000 with $20,000 after each of the five games they are to lose. Felsch says he thought they only had to lose a couple games, but Attell says they are to lose the first three. Cicotte says that Kerr is pitching the third game, and he is not with them. Cicotte tells Gandil he said before the first game, and Gandil tells him to look under his pillow, compliments of Sullivan.
      In their street clothes Bucky and the manager Gleason meet on the field and talk.
      In his hotel room Cicotte sees people outside yelling. He looks in his bed and finds two bundles of $100 bills.
      Cicotte is warming up on the mound. Players are taking batting practice. Gleason tells Lardner and Hugh that the odds have changed; but he says his boys would have told him if something was up. Hugh suggests he and Lardner keep separate scorecards and circle each play they consider fishy and then compare them after the game. Gleason finds Jackson sitting in the dugout, and Joe says he does not want to play and that he can tell the boss that too. Gleason tells Jackson that he will play. A band is playing. Gleason tells his players in the dugout that he has been hearing a lot about odds lately, but he says sometimes they are too smart for their own good. He says he has been in the game thirty years and that he has never seen a club that could compare with them. He says they can’t be beaten unless they beat themselves. He tells them to get ‘em.
      Rothstein is in a large room where the results of the game are going to be announced.
      Cicotte throws a strike, but on the second pitch he hits the batter.
      Rothstein hears that the first batter was hit by a pitch, and he leaves the room.
      Weaver makes a great play to throw out the batter, and Gandil looks at him. Felsch makes an excellent catch.
      In the fourth inning Cicotte gets an easy play, but he throws too high to second base. The shortstop Risberg flubs a ground ball. The next batter gets a hit and drives in a run. The catcher Schalk walks out to the mound, and Cicotte tells him to give him the ball. The next batter hits a double and drives in two more runs. Gleason goes out and removes Cicotte.
      In New York they announce the final score is Redlegs 9 White Sox 1.
      In the dugout Weaver is getting dressed, and Swede asks his story and says he skunked out on them. Buck says he has taken no money and does not owe them anything. He says Swede can play his game, and he will play his own.
      Cicotte comes in to see Lardner who gives him an illegal drink. Lardner shows him a ball they will use next year that is wound tighter. Lardner says he served up a pitch that had nothing on it. Cicotte asks if he brought him up there to tell him he had a lousy day. Lardner asks him if the series on the level, and Cicotte asks what he would say if he said they were doing their best. Lardner says he would believe him. Cicotte says they played like bushers today, but no one is in the bag. He says they are just dumb ball players, and they need a mug like him to keep them honest.
      Swede Risberg comes into Jackson’s room with an envelope of money. He says that Swede asked Joe to ease up a little in the field. Joe does not say anything, and Risberg goes out.
      Williams is pitching, and the catcher Schalk tries to get him to pitch better. He complains that his curve ball is not curving. Weaver dives and catches a line-drive.
      Schalk hits a double. Players stop and look at a plane flying over head that drops a dummy that lands on the field in a White Sox uniform. Gleason tells them to ask it if it can pitch.
      Schalk comes off the field and hits Williams until Gleason and Bucky hold him back. A writer asks for the scoop, and Bucky tells him to print what he wants. In the locker-room a fight breaks out.
      Some fans burn the dummy in effigy.
      Gleason goes to see Comiskey who says it had better be important.
      Swede goes into Gandil’s room.
      Burns and Maharg go to Attell for the players’ money, and Attell says it is all out on bets. Another man in the room pulls out a revolver. Attell asks if they are going to call the cops. Attell gives them $10,000 and says that is the last of it. He tells the bums to make it look good tomorrow.
      Comiskey knocks on a door and says he just talked to Gleason who thinks Williams threw the game and goes in to the room. John Heydler (Eliot Asinof) comes out and says that is the “whelp of a beaten cur.”
      The next game is in Chicago. Gleason asks how young Dickie Kerr (Jace Alexander) feels as he is warming up.
      In the game Gandil is hit by a pitch. Hugh suspects that Gandil let himself get thrown out at third. Kerr pitches well and even gets a hit. Weaver gets a hit. Kerr strikes out several batters. Schalk congratulates him with a hug.
      Attell calls Joey and tells him he still owes Rothstein $20,000. He asks what he means it is all out on bets.
      Hugh tells Lardner that Cicotte is the ticket.
      Weaver is sitting on his steps and his wife says he is playing well. He tells her not to tell anyone but that some of the players are not on the level. He says they wanted him to do it too, but he told them to take a hike. He says Gleason must know. He is hoping they will straighten up. He says he does not know who is trying and who is not. She wishes she didn’t know.
      In the fourth game Cicotte makes a wild throw. Weaver asks what was that and says he looked like a busher. The next batter gets a hit. Jackson throws for home, but Cicotte cuts it off. Lardner says that Cicotte lied to him.
      In the fifth game Williams does not pitch well. Lardner says Felsch is making errors too. Felsch drops a fly ball. Schalk tags out a runner, but the  umpire calls him safe. Schalk asks who is paying him and says it is the worst call he ever saw. The umpire ejects him from the game.
      Kids are playing baseball in an empty lot. Weaver says hello, and the kids argue over whether the Sox are trying or not. Weaver says a guy has to stick up for his friends.
      The train travels back to Cincinnati. Lardner sings about how he hardly tries in ball games. He sings he is ever blowing ball games, and the gamblers treat us fair.
      In the sixth game Dickie Kerr pitches again, and Jackson makes a great catch. The game is tied and goes into extra innings. Weaver is on third and asks Gandil to show him something. Gandil hits the ball, and Weaver scores the winning run.
      Rothstein gets the news in a barbershop while getting a shave.
      Williams comes into Cicotte’s room and says there is still no word from Gandil about the money. Cicotte says he does not care about the money. Williams says it is a peculiar way to find that out. Williams asks what he is going to do out there tomorrow, and Cicotte says he does not know yet.
      On the field Williams asks Gandil where Sullivan is, and he does not know. He asks about Atell, and Gandil says he shot his wad in the third game when Kerr won. Gandil tells Felsch and Williams that they made an agreement. Felsch says they dumped four games, and they only got paid for one. Gandil says they can’t welch on these guys and that it is their funeral. Gandil tells Swede that they still have Cicotte who is warming up and throwing knuckle balls. Gleason tells Cicotte that he is not pitching today, but Eddie says he can’t lose. He says he can’t miss, and Gleason tells Schalk to watch him. Schalk tells Eddie it is his move.
      In the seventh game Cicotte sees his wife and two girls in the stands, and he pitches well. The Sox make a double play. They hit well. Cicotte gets them on his knuckle ball. The man who threatened Sullivan taps him on the shoulder. Cicotte strikes out the last batter, and they celebrate.
      In the clubhouse Gleason tells the writers that his boys came around. He says Cicotte told him that he could not miss. Lardner asks about how they laid down in the other games. Gleason says they have been putting out. Hugh says the odds are steep.
      Williams says he is going to pitch better tomorrow. A man comes to him and says he is going to lose tomorrow. He points out his wife and says if he does not lose tomorrow, she dies. Williams laughs, but the man is serious. He says he can’t protect her. If he doesn’t kill her, someone else will. His wife asks Lefty what the man wanted, and he says he advised him how to pitch tomorrow.
      A man sings the national anthem as the players stand with their hats off. Williams sees the man in the stands.
      Rothstein is in the New York room to get the results.
      Williams gives up a hit and then another. Gleason tells James to warm up. Williams gives up another hit and a home run. Hugh says that his fast balls are slow. Gleason goes out and tells Lefty it did not take him long.
      Rothstein learns it is 4-0.
      Jackson hits a home run, but the Reds win 10-5.
      Hugh tells Lardner that there were at least five players.
      In the clubhouse Gleason sits down next to Weaver and says he had a fine series. Weaver says they lost. Gleason says they did not get the breaks; but Weaver says that is a load of bull, and he knows it.
      Hugh writes an article that the series was fixed. Weaver, Cicotte, and Jackson’s wife read it in their homes.
      A boy on the street asks people to sign the petition.
      In a newspaper office Lardner reads an article that criticizes Hugh and blames the gamblers.
      A newspaper reports that Comiskey has offered a $10,000 reward for evidence. A man comes to him and says he did not want to be a squealer. Comiskey asks Harry to get him Alfred Austrian.
      Alfred Austrian (Michael Laskin) advises Comiskey that their job is to control the investigation by appearing to be leading it. Comiskey says he will lose his players because they are guilty. Austrian tells him that baseball will take a shellacking at the ticket window. He says they must persuade the public that he and the owners are absolutely clean in this matter. Comiskey asks how.
      Comiskey with other men tells Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis (John Anderson) that baseball needs a commissioner who would have certain powers, but Landis asks for absolute power. He says otherwise people will not believe it. Comiskey says they thought that the man who cleaned out the reds after the war is the right man to clean up baseball. They are prepared to offer him a two-year contract, and Landis says it will be a life-time contract. He says a man worried about his job is liable to play favorites. Landis says he has to be back in court in five minutes and suggests they talk salary.
      Comiskey and the others announce to the press that Landis helped them fight the Hun on these shores. Hugh comments that the judge who leads the league in reversed decisions is going to clean up baseball, and Lardner suggests he could start with the men who are with him. Comiskey introduces Judge Landis, and people applaud him.
      A newspaper reports the summoning of a grand jury. A man with a bandaged nose is studying Spanish.
      Cicotte sits outside a courtroom. Inside Austrian tells him that they have the goods on him. He says if he signs, they will take care of him. Cicotte says he knows what they want to know. He admits they were crooked.
      Outside the courtroom writers have gathered, and one asks Cicotte if he got immunity. He asks what that is.
      Inside Austrian tells Jackson that he has to sign the statement to be a witness and that Eddie, Lefty, and the others signed it. Joe makes an X.
      In a bar Felsch says he got only $5,000. He says everybody else was getting something. He figured without the pitchers they were going to lose anyway. He asks why he shouldn’t get some. He says he may be dumb, but he is not stupid.
      Austrian tells Jackson he did the right thing. The writers question him as he comes out. Scooter asks Joe to say it ain’t so. Joe does not say anything and leaves.
      In his office Lardner circles the heads of Jackson and Felsch on the team picture.
      Inside Austrian introduces Weaver and Williams and others to three top lawyers. Weaver asks who is the Babe Ruth of the legal world, and Austrian says it is him. He says they will defend them in the trial. They can either do exactly what they tell them or go to jail. Weaver asks who is paying them, and Austrian says they have wealthy fans. Austrian says that the first rule in a conspiracy trial is that the less you know the better off you are.
      A man tells Austrian that Rothstein and his Mr. Comiskey have certain interests in common. Bad publicity can be very bad for both of their businesses. Austrian asks what he wants. The man says confessions, and Austrian asks about the players. The man says he can persuade them where their best interests lie.
      Weaver is putting on a tie as he tells his wife that if he had the jack, he would get his own lawyer. He says Comiskey won’t let them have their World Series bonuses. She asks who is paying for the lawyers they have, and he asks if she thinks it is Comiskey. She says of course it is him because he does not want to lose the best ball players in the game without a fight. He says he looks like a future jailbird.
      A newsboy announces that the trial starts today. In the courtroom people mill around before the trial. Hugh says that Comiskey will do what is in his financial interest and that is to retain the players; but Lardner says three confessions are hard to beat. Hugh says it is Chicago, and anything can happen. The eight players come into the courtroom, and people applaud and take pictures. Gleason is watching the trial.
      The following defendants names are read: Cicotte, Jackson, Gandil, Risberg, Felsch, McMullin, Williams, and Weaver. They are accused of a confidence game against Charles Nims, who bet on the Sox.
      Comiskey testifies that he became suspicious the series was fixed shortly after it started. He says he informed Commissioner Ban Johnson, hired private detectives, and kept a scorecard of every game. He says he found only hearsay but nothing that would warrant publicly slandering honest ballplayers, if they are honest. He is asked if he thinks they are innocent, and he says he will abide by the ruling of the court. He says it is suspicious because they have been indicted by a criminal court.
      Burns testifies that they asked him if he knew someone who would put up money if they dumped the series. He says he talked to some people. He is asked about the legality of his action, and he says he just introduced people who wanted to get together. He acted on tips based on inside dope. The lawyer asks how much he profited, and Burns says they busted him in the third game. The lawyer asks if the reason he is testifying is for revenge. He says he will be even with them before he leaves there. Burns wishes they had had a smart man like Ben at the head of the day because they would have been rich now.
      Maharg says he attended a meeting with Gandil, Risberg, Felsch, Cicotte, Williams, McMullen, and Weaver. He says Jackson was not present; but he knew what was going on because he said so in his confession. The attorney asks the prosecution to produce the alleged confessions, and the judge orders them to bring them forward. The prosecutor says they have been stolen. The judge calls for order, and Lardner tells Hugh that must have cost someone a lot. Hugh says it may have been Comiskey and Rothstein.
      The Herald Examiner reports that the confessions disappeared. Cicotte tells his wife he wants her to move to the farm if he goes to jail. He says he always thought that talent made a man big. They were the guys they came to see, and there is no ball game without them. He says to look at who is holding the money and who is facing the jail cell. He says talent does not mean anything. He says Comiskey, Sullivan, Atell, and Rothstein are in the backroom cutting up the profits. He says that is the conspiracy. She says he would have beaten them easy. He says no one will ever know that now.
      In the courtroom the defense lawyer asks Eddie Collins how he was not a part of it when he said he knew there was a fix on. Collins says he did not share much with the other players and that he only suspected there was a fix. He says that some of the guys did not seem to be putting out 100%. The lawyer asks if he ever played a game when he was not in peak mental and physical condition. Collins admits that he has occasionally, but he says he never once did not play the best he could. Weaver stands up and complains that they are not asking him the right questions. He says Collins did not even hit his weight. The judge says he is out of order. Weaver says he wants to take the stand, and the judge tells him to sit down until he is called. Weaver demands a separate trial and says the fact that he never took a penny has not been brought up once. He says he did not make an error. The judge tells him to sit down, or he will hold him in contempt of this court.
      In his room Jackson’s wife reads in the paper that Gleason will take the stand tomorrow in the Black Sox scandal. She asks about the “Black Sox” stuff, and Joe says that reporters think they are smart guys. He says all he wants to do is go back and play ball and forget about it, but she is not sure he will be able to. She says they are saying baseball cannot have any cheaters. He says he played good. He says they got to let him play. She asks what he will do if they don’t. He says he does not know.
      The manager Gleason testifies about his career as a pitcher and says he had the most control. He admits there were gamblers when he played and that he heard stories of fixes. He says he never was approached personally because he had a reputation as the kind of guy who would not go for that. He sees how a guy who was being underpaid who fell in with the wrong kind of people could be taken in. The prosecutor asks what he thinks of his players now, and he says they are the greatest ball club he has ever seen. People stand up and applaud and cheer.
      On the street Buck tells the two boys not to get too down on the players. He says when you grow up, things get complicated. Little Bucky asks if he did anything wrong, and Weaver says he guesses he never grew up. He sits down and says he still gets a bang out of playing ball the same as he did when he first came up. He says everyone is cheering, and it seems that they to came to see you. He says sometimes you get into a groove, and that bat meets that ball, and you know it is going to go a long way. He says you feel like you could live forever. He says he could not give that up. The boy asks how he thinks they will call it tomorrow. Weaver tells them to look down at third base next year, and they will see him playing his butt off.
      In court the charges are read, and the maximum penalty is five years in jail and a $2,000 fine. The judge asks if anyone has anything else to say. Weaver says he demanded a separate trial and was refused, and he never got a chance to testify on his own behalf. He calls it a big setup. The foreman announces that they found the defendants not guilty on all the charges.  They celebrate, and Hugh says it is a bigger fix than the series, gamblers 8, baseball nothing. Comiskey says he will make them pay for this. People carry Jackson on their shoulders and shake his hand.
      At the party Swede tells Weaver it was in the bag all the time.
      Landis announces that regardless of the verdict of the jury, no player who throws a ball game or promises to do so, no player who confers with crooked gamblers and players where the ways of throwing a ball game are discussed and does not promptly tell his club about it, will ever play professional baseball again.
      The players toast wine at their celebration.
      At a baseball game in New Jersey in 1925 a man in the stands recognizes the centerfielder, who makes a great catch, as Joe Jackson. They ask if he ever saw him play, and the man says he saw pictures. Weaver says he saw him play and says he was the best. They ask Weaver if that is him, but he says no; they are all gone now. Jackson hits a triple. A kid asks who was Joe Jackson, and they tell him he was one of those bums in Chicago who threw the series in 1919.
      Jackson and the other banned players never played in the major leagues again. Buck Weaver tried to clear his name every year until his death, but all his appeals were denied.
      This true story depicts the infamous scandal of the 1919 World Series and quite accurately shows how the players were motivated by the unfair treatment and pay they received from the team owner Comiskey and were tempted by high-stakes gamblers. Although he took no money and played well, Buck Weaver was also banned from baseball for not having reported the conspiracy. The drama reflects the contemporary power of gamblers and how greed could corrupt even the World Series of the national pastime.

Copyright © 2012 by Sanderson Beck

Movie Mirrors Index

BECK index