Baseball: Granddaughter of 1919 Reds player appears in Naples

By SCOTT CLAIR (Contact)

8:09 p.m., Saturday, March 7, 2009

 

 

NAPLES - Imagine being a clean player during what is now becoming known as baseball's "Steroids Era."Imagine having your on-field accomplishments dismissed as being suspect, and your protestations futilely falling on disbelieving ears. Such ballplayers would do well to read the story of Cincinnati Reds Hall of Famer Edd Roush, whose World Series-winning team in 1919 never received proper credit because of the infamous "Black Sox" scandal, where eight members of the Reds' opponent, the Chicago White Sox, were banned from baseball after being accused of throwing the World Series that season.

Roush's granddaughter, Dr. Susan Dellinger, discussed her 2006 book, "Red Legs and Black Sox: Edd Roush and the untold story of the 1919 World Series,'' on Saturday at a meeting of the local Dorothy Seymour Mills chapter of the Society for American Baseball Research at the downtown branch of the Collier County Public Library.

Through interviews with Roush and her grandmother, Essie Mae, Dellinger began writing a book about Roush in the early 1970s but it was rejected numerous times because publishers saw no public interest in Roush's baseball accomplishments, even though the center fielder won two batting titles, posted a .325 lifetime average and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1962, the same year as Jackie Robinson.

Dellinger put aside the project until the 1980s, when it was again met with rejection by publishers. It wasn't until earlier this decade when Dellinger became a member of SABR and a member advised her to focus on the most compelling aspect of Roush's career - the 1919 World Series - if she wanted to publish her grandfather's story.

To his dying day, March 21, 1988, Roush claimed that the Reds had the better team and would have beaten the heavily favored Chicago regardless. He also indicated to Dellinger and in a film by the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame, the "Black Sox" gambling scandal was not an isolated incident.

In 1919, amidst World War I, the Series was increased to a best-of-nine contest. After losing the first game 9-1, members of the White Sox are reported to have met in pitcher Eddie Cicotte's hotel room, where, after not being paid their share for throwing the game, decided to play the Series straight.

After five games, the Reds led 4-1 as the Series headed back to Cincinnati. Chicago won the next two games, causing Roush to question the efforts of teammates Dutch Ruether and Slim Sallee, both pitchers.

As revealed in the book, Roush was told by Jimmy Widmeyer, a Cincinnati newsstand owner with connections to the underworld, that Chicago players were on the take.

Widmeyer then informed Roush after Game 5 that the gambling syndicate had gotten to Reds players.

Before Game 8 in Chicago, Roush and Cincinnati manager Pat Moran confronted Reds players in the locker room. "I have something to say," Roush said. "I hear someone on this club doesn't want to win today. I'll be out in center field watching every move and nobody better do anything funny. No damn crook is going to rob me of my winning share this Series."

Roush and Moran then met with Hod Eller, the Reds starting pitcher in Game 8, and asked if he had been approached to throw the game. According to Roush, Eller said he had been offered $5,000 to lose the game. At the time, Roush was Cincinnati's highest-paid player at $10,000 for the season. Most Reds players were making around $2,000 a year.

Eller told Roush and Moran that he chased the bribers away. His performance that day proved him out. Eller threw a complete game, and the Reds clinched the Series 10-5. "Sure, the 1919 White Sox were good," Roush told writer Lawrence S. Rimer in 1966. "But the 1919 Cincinnati Reds were better."

E-mail Scott Clair at scottbclair@yahoo.com.

 

 


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