Taking less than a month to deliberate, a grand jury formally implicated Swede Risberg, Chick Gandil, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Buck Weaver, Eddie Cicotte, Lefty Williams, Happy Felsch and Fred McMullin, along with five gamblers, in the Black Sox scandal over the 1919 World Series. The indictments were highlighted by nine counts of conspiracy to defraud.
A lesser-reported (and contradicting the absolutist take on owner Charles Comiskey and his miserly ways) development in the aftermath was that the 10 innocent players on the 1919 White Sox and manager Kid Gleason were given $1,500 bonus checks (about 22 grand today) to make up for the difference in World Series winners’ and losers’ shares.
The trial, rife with drama, would begin on June 27, 1921. Despite ultimately being exonerated by a Chicago jury after that trial, the Black Sox were nonetheless banned for life by the baseball commissioner.
Wilbur Wood, whose 50.1 rWAR ranks No. 8 in all-time on the White Sox and fifth among pitchers, was born Cambridge, Mass.
A unique pitcher in team annals, Wood excelled as a reliever 1967-70 (finishing 25th in MVP voting in ’68) and dominated as a workhorse starter from 1971 to 1975. The knuckleballer led the majors in starts in every season from 1972 to 1975, amassing 182 starts in that period and throwing 1,347 2⁄3 innings. He was a top-five Cy Young finisher in three of those seasons, a Top 10 MVP finisher in two of them.
Though never coming close to the Hall of Fame, Wood is worthy of consideration, with 50.0 career WAR. Jay Jaffe’s JAWS measure of peak greatness rates Wood as the 104th-best starting pitcher of all time.
Game 1 against Houston was played in chilly, 53° Chicago, with the Sox winning, 5-3, at U.S. Cellular Field. Jermaine Dye and Joe Crede hit home runs. José Contreras pitched seven innings (the streak of postseason complete games was snapped!), while Astros starter Roger Clemens left after two innings with a strained hamstring (and bruised ego, surrendering three runs on four hits over 54 pitches).
Chicago’s bullpen tandem of Neal Cotts and Bobby Jenks saved the game, getting five of their six outs with Ks. Cotts and Jenks got out of a first-and-third, no-out situation in the eighth inning to keep the Sox in the lead, striking out Morgan Ensberg, Mike Lamb and Jeff Bagwell.