1918 World Series: was the famous Red Sox win fixed?
1918 World Series: new information about the 1918 World Series points at strong influence from gamblers, and the possibility that the Cubs threw the game against the Red Sox.
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"They didn't make much money," said Sean Deveney, a reporter with The Sporting News whose book, "The Original Curse," said a fix by the Cubs was likely. "They had the incentive to do something like that."Skip to next paragraph
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Both the Cubs and the Red Sox were upset that the teams' owners were not paying their fair share of theWorld Series receipts, Deveney said. Before one Series game in Boston, the two squads refused to come on the field until the owners paid them what they were promised.
"The owners said no," Deveney said.
Deveney said the players quickly understood that they could not win a public relations battle by refusing to play a game during World War I, not in a ball park filled with soldiers. So they played.
So did the Cubs throw the Series? No great hitter suddenly forgot how to hit, and the Cubs pitchers were terrific, finishing the Series with an astonishing 1.04 ERA.
Still, "there were definitely some suspicious plays," Deveney said, and most of them involved outfielder Max Flack.
In the fourth game, Flack was picked off not once, but twice. Flack turned a catchable fly ball in the sixth and final game into an error that allowed two runs to score in the Red Sox's 2-1 win.
And there was the time Babe Ruth came to the plate for the Red Sox — a pitcher at the time, but emerging as one of the game's best hitters — and the Cubs' pitcher, Lefty Tyler, saw that Flack was not playing deep enough in right field.
"He waved him back and Flack just stood there," Deveney said. "Sure enough, Babe hit one over his head" for a triple that scored two runs.
Later in the game, Cubs pitcher Phil Douglas came in the game long enough to field a grounder and throw the ball over the first baseman's head, allowing the decisive run to score in the Red Sox's 3-2 win.
A few years later, Douglas was banned from baseball for what the papers called "treachery" after proposing that another team in the pennant race pay him to leave the team and "go fishing."
All six games in the 1918 Cubs-Red Sox Series were close — Boston never won a game by more than a run — and it would only take a dropped ball here or a badly thrown ball there to turn victory into defeat.
"It didn't take much to throw a game," Deveney said. "It really didn't."
If there is a record of a baseball official asking Cicotte a single question about the 1918 World Series, Deveney doesn't know about it.
"Baseball didn't want to investigate," he said. "They wanted to make it all about the Black Sox and say, 'OK, gambling's gone.'"
And what if the Cubs — a team that hasn't won a World Series in 103 years, blaming the curse of a goat and the glove of a fan named Steve Bartman along the way — had actually beaten Boston back in 1918?
"It would have bumped the curse up a decade," joked Alter. "We could be looking at a century (without winning a World Series) seven years from now."