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AMELIA EARHART
On July 2, 1937, Amelia Earhart flew away from a town called Lae in the South Pacific. Earhart was attempting to circumnavigate the globe. After taking off from Lae, she disappeared. The Superhero Historians will investigate her life, her final flight, and the possible outcomes to that flight.
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Monday, November 13, 2006

Aaron Burr and the 1919 World Series?

Phineas Pollyphus, Political Historian

There is an interesting political connection to the 1919 World Series.  Politics always come into play, you just can’t keep them out.  Can’t keep them out.  Where is the connection?  It all comes down to Arnold Rothstein.  In order to become as big as Rothstein did in the underworld, you need protection from the law.  Rothstein’s protection came from Tammany Hall in New York.  Remember Tammany Hall?  That’s right, it helped Aaron Burr win elections in New York.  In New York.  Just go to our old Burr versus Hamilton category to remind yourself.  Does that mean that Aaron Burr, in some roundabout way, helped fix the 1919 World Series?  Probably not.  Plus that is a lot to pile on a man who is already holding the killing of Alexander Hamilton and treason.

By: Phineas Pollyphus, Political Historian
Topic: 1919 CHICAGO WHITE SOX SCANDAL
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Friday, November 10, 2006

Happy Birthday!

Alistair Flush, Military Historian

Happy Birthday to the United States Marine Corps.

“Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they’ve made a difference. The Marines don’t have that problem.” - President Reagan, 1985

By: Alistair Flush, Military Historian
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The Gamblers

Dean Dillopolis, People Historian

Welcome back. As far as the 1919 World Series goes we have the players and then we have the gamblers. We have already met the players for the White Sox, now let’s meet the gamblers. There would have been no fix without the gamblers.

There are four major figures on the gambling side. We’ll take them in order of appearance.

First we have Joseph “Sport” Sullivan, a Boston gambler. He becomes part of this story because of his connection with White Sox first baseman Chick Gandil. Gandil and Sullivan have known each other since 1912. Sullivan takes Gandil out to eat, play, and drink. Gandil gives Sullivan the occasional tip about a game. What players are hurt, what manager is starting who… that sort of thing. When Gandil first thinks of the World Series scheme, he contacts Sullivan. They meet and Gandil says he wants $80,000 to throw the Series. Sullivan actually feels bad about fixing the World Series, not because of money, but because he doesn’t want to tarnish baseball. He decides to go ahead with it anyway.

“Sleepy” Bill Burns was an ex-ballplayer. He knew all the guys and they all liked him. When he ran into Eddie Cicotte, White Sox pitcher, and asked about a possible fix, Cicotte took him to Chick Gandil. The players, eager to strike another deal, told Burns that they would throw the Series for $100,000. Ironically, both Burns and Sullivan went to the same place after leaving Gandil…

Arnold Rothstein, or The Big Bankroll, was a big time New York gambler and organized crime kingpin. If anyone had the money to back the fixing of the World Series it was Rothstein. First approached by Burns, Rothstein declines the deal. “Sport” Sullivan meets with him later about funding the fix and Rothstein agrees. He knows that with multiple people in on the scandal, it will be harder to identify him as a conspirator.

When “Sleepy” Bill Burns first meets with Rothstein, he actually meets Rothstein’s bodyguard Abe Attell. Abe Attell once held the World Featherweight Championship in boxing. After Rothstein turns Burns down, Attell sees his opportunity. He meets with Burns and tells him that Rothstein has agreed to back him. This is not true, but Attell thinks he can get away with it anyway.

Some interesting facts Arnold Rothstein. F. Scott Fitzgerald models his character Meyer Wolfshein from The Great Gatsby after Rothstein. Nathan Detroit from Guys and Dolls is also modeled after Rothstein.

By: Dean Dillopolis, People Historian
Topic: 1919 CHICAGO WHITE SOX SCANDAL
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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

1918 White Sox Payroll

Rhonda Rodentilly, Document Historian

Take a look at this. This is really cool! Dean asked me to look around for this. I knew I had it, I just had to dig around a bit through other papers and memorabilia. Check out the salaries and the names. Look at Eddie Collins getting $15,000. Then look for Joe Jackson and see how much less he gets. Other names to look for, Cicotte, Gandil, Risberg, and Weaver. I guess this is what payrolls looked like before computer programs!


By: Rhonda Rodentilly, Document Historian
Topic: 1919 CHICAGO WHITE SOX SCANDAL
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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

“Commy”

Dean Dillopolis, People Historian

Before owning the Chicago White Sox, Charles Comiskey was a ballplayer and a manager. He owned the Chicago White Sox from 1900 until he died in 1931. As a first baseman, he is credited with being the first to play defense behind the base.  He is enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

In 1910 Comiskey built Comiskey Park for his White Sox. He began to seek out the best players for his club, and he found them. In 1915 he purchased Joe Jackson, Happy Felsch, and Eddie Collins. He turned the White Sox into a powerhouse, winning the World Series in 1917 and having the best record in the American League in 1919.

Despite these powerful ball clubs, Comiskey was very cheap with his players. His cheapness is highlighted, by some, to be a major factor in the 1919 World Series scandal. I’m going to have Rhonda dig around for a Chicago White Sox payroll and you will see what I’m talking about. It is also rumored that the term “Black Sox” came into being because Comiskey charged the players to clean their uniforms. They decided not to clean them and would take the field with dirty uniforms. There is also a rumor that he benched Eddie Cicotte so that he could not win 30 games and get a $10,000 bonus.

These low salaries for some players led to a very unhappy locker room. The White Sox were split into two teams, one underpaid while the other, able to negotiate higher salaries, were well paid. Players like Eddie Collins and Ray Schalk had yearly salaries more than double what their teammates made.

Below is Charles Comiskey’s baseball card.


By: Dean Dillopolis, People Historian
Topic: 1919 CHICAGO WHITE SOX SCANDAL
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Project Valour-IT Update

Pierce Hawking, The Founding Father

If you haven’t heard of Project Valour-IT, click here. We are in the “home stretch” right now. If you haven’t given, please consider doing so. If you have given, thank you. If you are able, please give more. There is also an auction going on here. Take a look and see if anything interests you. Your total donation goes towards Project Valour-IT. Thank you.

Jason Norrett
President, Superhero Historians.

By: Pierce Hawking, The Founding Father
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Monday, November 06, 2006

Invention of Baseball

Dorothy Duckinsie, Invention / Things Historian

We can’t go on and talk about the famous 1919 World Series without discovering a little bit about the invention of baseball. Now, baseball’s invention is not really like the invention of, say, the light bulb or the automobile. But it still is a great thing, a great invention, and it had to come into existence somehow, so let’s talk about it.

Baseball is really an evolution. By “evolution” I mean that it transformed from something else to become the baseball that we know and love today. Baseball is thought to come from something called Rounders, a game played in England. Rounders became a game called Town Ball, played mostly around Boston. These two games were similar to baseball but not exact.

The exact origins of today’s baseball are a little muddy. In 1905 baseball formed the Mills Commission to discover the roots of the game. They studied the subject for three years. They give much of the credit of the modern game to a military man, Abner Doubleday. You can see a picture of old Abner down below. He was said to have fired a shot a Fort Sumter, the start of the Civil War! We’ll go into that in a month down the road. The Mills Commission decided that Doubleday changed the game enough, with rules like limiting the amount of players and defining the shape of the field, to give him credit for the modern game. They mark the date and place as 1839 in Cooperstown, NY. The Baseball Hall of Fame is in Cooperstown! You can visit it. There was even an old baseball discovered right by Cooperstown in a farmhouse. This discovery backs up the invention by Doubleday.


By: Dorothy Duckinsie, Invention / Things Historian
Topic: 1919 CHICAGO WHITE SOX SCANDAL
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Friday, November 03, 2006

Joe Jackson’s Draft Card

Rhonda Rodentilly, Document Historian

Here is a picture of Shoeless Joe’s draft card.  Take a look, pretty cool huh?  You can see his address and his profession.  Neat.

image

By: Rhonda Rodentilly, Document Historian
Topic: 1919 CHICAGO WHITE SOX SCANDAL
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White Sox and War

Alistair Flush, Military Historian

Listen up. You might think that war has nothing to do with baseball. Not true. In 1919 war played a big part in baseball. I’ll explain and keep it short.

World War I, or The Great War, or “The war to end all wars”, held the world in a vice grip for four years. There is some dispute to this, but most people put the end of the war as November 11, 1918.

How did the war affect baseball? Many ways. The toll of war put major strain on the nation. Then came the “work or fight order”. Baseball was not considered work and players like Ty Cobb went off to fight. The White Sox even registered for the draft and held war exercises at Comiskey Park. I’ll have Rhonda dig around for some documents or photos. I think Shoeless Joe’s draft card is floating around somewhere. The 1918 World Series between the Red Sox and the Cubs was held early because of the war and had bad attendance. So when the war ended, America was ready to focus on good things. Baseball was one of these good things. Record crowds streamed through the turnstiles to see games. Baseball helped Americans come back from the years of war. Then the “fix” happens. The results can’t be good. But we’ll get to that later.

Just so you know, the 1918 World Series was Boston’s last until 2004. After the Series they got “cursed” by trading Babe Ruth to the Yankees.

By: Alistair Flush, Military Historian
Topic: 1919 CHICAGO WHITE SOX SCANDAL
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Thursday, November 02, 2006

Comiskey Park

Barley Hugg, Location Historian

Let’s talk about where the White Sox played their home games. World famous Comiskey Park. Nowadays they play in a new fangled park, right across the street, but you can still visit the site of the original Comiskey Park. There is actually a home plate where the real home plate used to be. You can stand there and imagine you are Shoeless Joe or Buck Weaver!

Okay, Comiskey Park. Built in 1910 it held 32,000 fans in the stands. In 1927 the capacity was increased to 52,000 fans.

The dimensions in 1919 were:
Left Field - 363 ft
Deep Left Center - 382 ft
Center Field - 420 ft
Deep Right Center - 382 ft
Right Field - 363 ft
Backstop - 98 ft

In 1919 the White Sox played 4 World Series games at Comiskey Park. They won Game 3 and lost Game 4, Game 5, and Game 8.

All this talk about the ballpark has my mouth watering for a nice ballpark hot dog. Let’s see… okay, the backstop is behind home plate. Of course, home plate is where the batter stands to hit. Any other words? No. Okay, I’m going to get a hot dog.

By: Barley Hugg, Location Historian
Topic: 1919 CHICAGO WHITE SOX SCANDAL
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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Players

Dean Dillopolis, People Historian

Hi everyone, welcome back!  This month’s topic has a lot of people involved, especially compared to last month’s topic.  Also, you may not be familiar with all the names.  Last month you probably knew some of the names like Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington.  Well, even if you didn’t, you do now!  Don’t worry though, I will make sure that we let you know who everyone is.  First let’s go over the players involved.  Is that okay?  Great.

Fred McMullen played infield for the White Sox, but off the bench.  They called him a utility infielder.  In 1919 he batted .294 with 19 RBIs.  He went to bat twice during the World Series, singling once and grounding out the second time.  The other players had to let him in on the fix because he overheard two of them talking about it in the locker room.

Swede Risberg played shortstop for the White Sox.  He was a tough player with a big temper.  He even fought Ty Cobb and punched an umpire in the minor leagues.  In 1919 he .256 with 38 RBIs.  In the World Series he played every game, getting only 2 hits but making 4 errors.

Oscar Felsch, or “Happy”, played centerfield for the White Sox.  He was one of the best defensive players in the game.  In 1919 he batted .275 with 86 RBIs.  He says he didn’t want to be a part of the fix, but he knew they would throw the Series without him and he would miss out on the money.  He made a number of defensive mistakes during the Series.

Claude “Lefty” Williams was a star pitcher for the White Sox.  He pitched 27 complete games in 1919, winning a total of 23 games.  He lost a record 3 games in the Series, giving up 12 earned runs.

George “Buck” Weaver played third base for the Sox and is the only player Ty Cobb would not bunt against.  In 1919 he hit .296 with 75 RBIs.  In the Series he batted .324 and made no errors.  He disputes having any role in the fix, but he attended 2 meetings about the scheme.  He was paid no money for the fix, but was banned for knowing about it and not saying anything.  He fought for reinstatement for the rest of his life.  His family still fights for it.

Charles “Chick” Gandil was the leader of the players behind the scandal.  In 1919 he batted .290 with 60 RBIs.  He played first base for the White Sox.

Eddie Cicotte starred for the White Sox pitching staff in 1919.  He pitched 30 complete games winning a total of 29 games.  He was key to the whole fix and signalled its start by hitting the first batter he faced in the Series.

Joe Jackson, called “Shoeless”, is the most famous of the 8 White Sox players thrown out of baseball.  In 1919 he batted .351 with 96 RBIs.  He definitely knew about the fix, but it is disputed if he had anything to do with it.  He made no errors and hit .375 with a homerun during the Series.  He did admit to getting money for the fix, but not playing for the fix.  As with Buck Weaver, people continue to try and get Joe Jackson reinstated to baseball.

Okay, that was a lot of info.  Rhonda has been bugging me to give you a bit more.  She thinks I should have a little baseball glossary at the end of this post.  She is probably correct, so here it goes.

RBI stands for Runs Batted In.  It is when a batter is able to get a player on base to score.
Complete Game means that the pitcher pitched the entire game.
An Error is when a fielder makes a mistake with the ball on defense.
A Home Run is when the batter hits the ball out of the ballpark.  He then gets to round the bases and score.

If I left anything out, let me know… I’m sure Rhonda will.

By: Dean Dillopolis, People Historian
Topic: 1919 CHICAGO WHITE SOX SCANDAL
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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Project Valour-IT

Pierce Hawking, The Founding Father

Dear Readers,

Please take a moment to read this and consider taking action.  Soldiers’ Angels has started a project called Valour-IT.  It stands for Voice Activated Laptops for OUR Injured Troops.  They are raising money in order to buy laptops for soldiers who don’t have the use of their hands.  The soldiers operate the computers by speaking into a microphone.  Please take a moment to scroll down to the bottom of this screen and click on the Valour-IT icon to donate.  Learn more about Project Valour-IT here. Thank you.

Jason Norrett
President, Superhero Historians

By: Pierce Hawking, The Founding Father
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References

Dorothy Duckinsie, Invention / Things Historian

Our thanks to everyone who logged on to read about Hamilton and Burr. We really appreciate it. Please let us know what you thought. Just click on the Contact button and drop us a line. If you are interested in finding out more about the duel, please take a gander at the sources I will list below. They helped us learn more too.

Duel by Thomas Fleming
Founding Brothers by Joseph J. Ellis
The New York State Historical Association
PBS
The Weehawken Historical Commission
The Aaron Burr Society
The Library of Congress

By: Dorothy Duckinsie, Invention / Things Historian
Topic: HAMILTON - BURR DUEL
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The End

Phineas Pollyphus, Political Historian

To end everything we have to come back to politics. It’s a must. A must. So the duel is over, Hamilton is shot and dies the next day. What happens to Burr? What happens to the Federalist Party? Let’s deal with them one by one. One by one.

Aaron Burr was charged with murder in both New Jersey and New York. He ran down to the South and actually finished out his term as vice president. It is said that his farewell speech to Congress touched many and even changed many minds about Burr. However, the duel and death of Hamilton ruined Burr’s political career. Newspapers went to battle again, after the duel, with pro Federalist papers calling Burr a murderer. Public opinion, despite defense by Van Ness, swung against Burr and his political career was finished. It was finished. Later Burr was accused of treason for attempting to carve out part of the Louisiana Territory to secede from the United States. He could not get enough support for the move and was never convicted of treason. Late in life he actually returned to the duel site. Even as an old man he became energized when speaking of Hamilton.

As for the Federalist Party, it became less and less prominent in politics after Hamilton’s death. With the death of Washington and Hamilton, the party seemed aimless and leaderless. It is ironic that Hamilton took the duel in part to save himself as the leader of the Federalist Party, while the party’s fall after his death proves that he was always the anchor. Always the anchor.

By: Phineas Pollyphus, Political Historian
Topic: HAMILTON - BURR DUEL
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Monday, October 30, 2006

Burr Presses for More

Rhonda Rodentilly, Document Historian

image

I’ve just got to say, this past few weeks have been just super.  We are wrapping everything up now, but I hope if you liked this topic you will continue to study it.  You can always contact us for more information.  Anyway, let’s get back to some of the letters written between Burr and Hamilton.  Okay… super.

I know Alistair already went over the actual duel, but let’s track back a little bit to the second letter sent by Burr to Hamilton.  Right off the bat I notice something different from the first letter he sent.  Do you notice anything?  You can always scroll down to the first letter; it’s below in one of my posts.  Okay, got it?  That’s right, the letters are not written by the same person.  The first one was transcribed, or copied out, by Van Ness while Burr writes this one.  That’s super duper.  The stakes were definitely raised.  It is clear that Burr did not appreciate Hamilton’s letter, not at all.

Here is what this letter says:

N. York, 21 June, 1804. 
Sir:

Your letter of the 20th inst. has been this day received. Having considered it attentively, I regret to find in it nothing of that sincerity and delicacy which you profess to value.

Political opposition can never absolve gentlemen from the necessity of a rigid adherence to the laws of honor and the rules of decorum. I neither claim such privilege nor indulge it in others.

The common sense of mankind affixes to the epithet adopted by Dr. Cooper the idea of dishonor. It has been publicly applied to me under the sanction of your name. The question is not whether he has understood the meaning of the word or has used it according to syntax and with grammatical accuracy, but whether you have authorized this application either directly or by uttering expression or opinion derogatory to my honor. The time “when” is in your own knowledge but no way material to me, as the calumny has now just been disclosed so as to become the subject of my notice and as the effect is present and palpable.

Your 1etter has furnished me with new reasons for requiring a definite reply.
I have the honor to be,

Your Obt. Servt. 

A. BURR
General Hamilton

I wish to thank the New York State Historical Association for the letters we have used.  They have been super.  There are even more letters and a picture of the actual pistols at their website.  Please visit them for more information.  NYSHA Website.

By: Rhonda Rodentilly, Document Historian
Topic: HAMILTON - BURR DUEL
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