Tammy's All Things History

Bringing the Past to Life!


Industrial Age

The Black Sox Scandal-Fixing the 1919 World Series

During an online book discussion reading The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, I came across the mention of the 1919 World Series scandal involving the fixing of the World Series. I had never heard of it before and wanted to know more about it.

During the 1919 baseball season eight members of the Chicago White Sox baseball team were banned for life from the sport for fixing that year’s World Series. The fix was a payout reward for intentionally loosing the game and giving the title to the opposing team, The Cincinnati Reds. The scandal affected America in two ways. It caused doubt for those who loved and supported the sport and it became a way for social groups to expose other issues of the day. The issues of the day included dealing with race, ethnicity and labor problems.

The Black Sox Scandal, as it is commonly referred to, occurred right after World War I when Americans began recovering and reconstructing their lives. Newspapers and Presidential speeches were full of Americanism and rhetoric. This was created in order to infuse patriotism, a winning attitude and support for the spread of democracy. The idea of spreading democracy was to right a wrong (rid the world of ruthless dictatorship) and create a better future for Americans. When the scandal broke, Americans could hardly believe it and many did not even want to. Doubts were quickly squashed as Joe Jackson himself admitted to the folly when a young boy questioned him on the incident outside a courthouse as he was leaving. It is no wonder the scandal hit home and became embroiled in keeping integrity important in the sports world.

An influx of immigrants after the war, shady work practices by employers and racial tensions pushed the Americanism envelop further during the scandal because it exposed exploitation of workers by foreign gamblers and influences. Soon the lines between corrupt baseball and the labor industry became intertwined. If there was ever a time to voice a concern of the internal struggles of the factory worker it was at the time of the scandal.

Baseball was also used by each community as a spirit builder. It taught ethical responsibilities of working as a team for a common goal. Factory work was a major part of the work force in 1919 and much of it was organized by team work. Americans worked hard in the factories and deserved to enjoy some recreation such as watching a game. Ken Burns explains in his article, Sure, Baseball Has Its Issues, But Doesn’t Everything? that the sport was a national past time and family event. The sport also reinforced work ethics and values. Together these things fueled the spirit of Americanism; something that needed to keep the nation strong against the real world threat of emerging communism.

What challenged the integrity of baseball and the faith in the magic of the sport was in the teams that were fixed and the shock it caused. The game of the World Series in 1919 promised to be full of knuckle biting excitement because the White Sox were favored to win due to the success of their record for that year. The Reds, the White Sox’s opponents, were average, hard working players but were no match for the strong Chicago team. When it became known to the public that members of the White Sox agreed to accept a loss for a substantial payment, it put the game in jeopardy of being real. If the game could be fixed then everything Americans worked hard for in their personal lives, emulating players and looking forward to recreational family time was suddenly for naught. What a disappointing time that must have been.

Today baseball remains an American national past time as well as many other sports. The same principles of integrity are still held to the same standards and are guarded closely by agencies that police them. It still fuels Americanism and patriotism as before each game the crowd stands to the signing of the national anthem. It still holds the same ideas of working hard as a team for a common goal. It breeds heroism at defining odds and earning places of fame at breaking records in efforts to achieve whatever anyone has set out to do so. Once in awhile a new scandal breaks but America never lets it stop its determination of enjoying the recreation after hard day’s work to watch a game.

My Summer Reading 2012

History revisited-I indulged Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, a re-print from Dover Thrift Editions. It was coincidental for me because weeks earlier in one of my LinkedIn groups a fellow history enthusiast mentioned the latest trend of re-printing old history books. I had not of heard of this trend before and as I read the updated forward in the book, the re-printing confession caught my attention. The reason I wanted to read The Jungle was because it was mentioned in my reading of the,  The Family which also sparked my curiosity for two of my other blogs, The Black Buffers and the Washington DC riots of 1968.

 The Jungle, is what the newest introduction claimed that Sinclair’s subject matter came from Muckraking. A Muckraker was what a person was called when they exposed hidden atrocities through the use of media. It’s not the first time I have been exposed to muckraking. The industrial age in which this book was written, is full of media rhetoric that causes shock and awe. Just as I also found in researching of the Loray Mill Strike of 1929 in books that were penned after the strike ended to air truths not heard during the turmoil for fear of further retribution from social elite. It seems to me that the muckraking and media hype all fueled the socialism and red (communism) threat that would plague Americans for decades into the future. If you like drama and the darker periods in American history, I would definitely recommend reading this book and with a little sleuthing will bring much more, so much more where this book came from. Muckraking reached all Americans and was not partial to any particular ethnic group or race. Everyone felt it one way or another.

Today the economy is so bad after ten years of foreign war, outsourcing of business, loss of jobs, and wedges drawn heavily between wealth and poverty. In the early 1900’s America faced the same thing but with a less sympathetic ear from those in society able to help. I would bore those around myself to repeat the often too much said phrase of, “history repeats itself”, as similarities can be seen today. Rather, what is more fascinating to me is that in my studies and readings of history, topics seem to come back again and again. It is rewarding to see this as pictures become clearer and results in a greater understanding of the world in general. To me, this is the most important part.

The second book I read is Jesse Ventura’s, American ConspiraciesOriginally I had purchased the book as a gift for my husband who is intrigued by the stories. Soon after, being bored, I picked it up to read and see what it was all about. I am not into conspiracy theories so much but love the history they tell. Jesse mentions in his introduction of the topics of the book and how he was bored flying in planes going to speaking and other engagements. As a result of this he took up reading as a new hobby. His readings coincidentally brought him to a topic of interest: President Kennedy’s assassination. He was so intrigued by the first book that he continued to read anything he could get his hands on about the subject. As a result of his studies he formulated a question about the similarities of other prominent leaders’ assassination during the 1960’s. I do the same thing. As I read I encounter more interesting topics to learn about. Topics such as the Knights of the Golden Circle, a civil war spy group and Major General Smedley Butler, whom he mentions in passing conversations. I look forward to more readings from Jesse. I take the conspiracies with a grain of salt. Historians need factual evidence of things that happen to be valid and worth study or mention just as a scientist needs proof from their experiments to validate their research. In the future maybe Jesse’s ideas will be ones for the history books; proven and true.

My third and final book of summer reading (I am a slow reader) is Martha: The life of Martha Mitchell, by Winzola McLendon. This book is a used one and rough around the edges. I love used books! I was interested in Martha’s story after reading The Georgetown Ladies’ Social Club by C. David Heymann and doing further research on Katherine Graham for a paper in college. These two books are chalk full of history and what it was like to live and exist closely to the Watergate scandal in the early 1970’s. When I read books such as these, I can imagine life and how people were in a time when I was very little and my world revolved around play time and toys. The books bring to life many forgotten players both popular and long forgotten. From there other curiosities are perked and trails to explore come into focus.

Dancing around historic timelines can be daunting at times but it is important to be exposed to as much of it as can be. The past often is brought up again and again as people like to reference it, to understand the present and gauge the future. After a while being able to recall the information brings with it better understanding and can lead to interesting discussions with others.

California Gold Rush and Chinese Immigration

Between 1849 and 1882, California’s Gold Rush provided an abundance of opportunities for immigrating workers from China. Mining for gold spurred the need for cheap labor in large quantities, and it could not be panned fast enough for capitalists in the region. One solution helped to solve the issue when Chinese men answered ads overseas newspapers to work in the US. 

Once they arrived they went to work quickly and sent their earnings back home to their families. Some of them were fortunate enough to be able to bring their wives. However, most assumed small living quarters that catered to single or unaccompanied men and a bare bones type of lifestyle that meant working long hours and little time for anything else.  As the immigration continued and gold mining began to dry up, Chinese immigrants began to fill other positions with low wages such as railroad work and labor jobs provided by small business owners.

The situation of employing migrant workers immediately met with resistance by jealous white workers convinced of an idea the immigrating Chinese were intending to take all of Americans job opportunities. Fights and racist insults were flung daily upon the Chinese immigrant workers. As a result a majority of Chinese immigrants both permanently relocated and transient moved to areas of cities where they formed their own communities or “China Towns”. They did this to ward off violence and intimidation while at the same inadvertently setting up a self contained community that provided for the needs of Chinese workers and their families.

Two entrepreneurs,  Lung On and Ing Hay capitalized on the need for health and welfare services for Chinese communities. They provided herbs and medicines but also a way for Chinese to obtain goods imported from their homeland China. Dr. Hay’s reputation grew into one of infamy due to his ability to treat illnesses that most American doctors were inexperienced in dealing with. Business boomed and it brought people far and wide to the little town of John Day, an outpost stop along the trade route west. The company, Wah Chung & Co., also served as a social center that offered other services for Chinese communities such as employment offices, networking, and a general store.

The California gold rush brought opportunities for  Chinese who immigrated to the US but also enabled the establishment of communities to help other Chinese populations. Even though the jobs meant long hours and little pay, America offered a better way of life for the Chinese who settled there. From there many more contributions were made and today Chinese are recognized as any other citizen and the Chinese heritage of the United States is often celebrated throughout the country.

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