On Jan. 1, 1927, former Chicago White Sox shortstop Charles “Swede” Risberg told baseball Commissioner Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, in a semi-open hearing, that in 1917, his Chicago White Sox “bought’ four games from the Detroit Tigers.
Risberg testified under oath that White Sox manager Clarence “Pants” Rowland, who later became an umpire, was the brains behind fixing four games against the Tigers. Risberg spoke for two hours, answering all of Commissioner Landis’ questions decisively.
“Clarence Rowland met me near the dugout before the first of a four-game series with Detroit in 1917. We were fighting for first place. We needed those games.
“‘Don’t worry,’ Rowland told me. ‘Everything is all fixed.'”
The former White Sox infielder stated that Eddie Collins, who is now in the Hall of Fame, was part of the contingent that collected $1,500 to give to the Detroit players. Risberg related that in one of the four games, shortstop Ben Dyer made an error, Eddie Collins was upset, exclaiming, “Isn’t that terrible?” Collins explained that he thought Dyer had been too crude.
After testifying, Risberg turned to reporters to say,
“Every word of what I told Landis is the truth and I’ll face any one of the fellows I accused.”
When Landis heard Risberg accuse Rowland, he immediately asked his secretary to locate him. The former White Sox manager was eventually found in Milwaukee. He denied everything.
“I knew nothing of that deal. If Risberg says I had anything to do with framing games, he lies.”
Two weeks after the Tigers’ cooperation, Risberg and Chick Gandil collected $45 from each White Sox player. When Collins contributed his money, he expressed uneasiness. “I don’t like to do this. I’ll never do it again.”
Risberg and Gandil traveled from New York, where the Sox were playing, to the Aldine Hotel in Philadelphia, to give the Tigers the money.
“We found Bill James, George Dauss, Donie Bush, and others playing poker. James took the money, between $1,000 and $1,100, and he said he would take care of the boys. He mentioned Howard Ehmke, Boland, Dauss, and Cunningham.”
“Two years later, when Detroit was fighting hard for third place (this was in 1919), I remember some of our boys saying I guess we ought to be good to Detroit. They helped us out once. So the last two games we had with Detroit we sloughed off (threw).”
When asked if he had discussed Detroit’s cooperation with anyone, Risberg said that he had met Rowland in Chicago in 1920, just after the Black Sox scandal had broken.
“Rowland said to me, ‘For heavens sake, don’t mention that 1917 series.'”
On a different occasion, Risberg related that immediately after the Sox scandal had been discovered and he had been banned from baseball, he met Donie Bush, Hooks Dauss, and some other Tigers outside a saloon across from the White Sox ball park.
Bush said, “Well, I guess they’ll be digging up that 1917 stuff soon.”
Risberg finished by educating Landis with respect to how easy it is to fix a baseball game. He said that there was no one way to accomplish the goal.
“Most of the time we did it by playing out of position. Then when the ball came, it was too far for us to get. I never heard of sloughing games until I came to the Sox in 1917. But from the talk of other players, I learned that it was a common thing for one team to let another team win.”
Special to The New York Times.. (1927, January 2). WHITE SOX BOUGHT FOUR DETROIT GAMES IN 1917, NEW CHARGE :Swede Risberg, Under Oath, Tells Commissioner Landis of $1,100 Pool. CHICAGO THEN WON PENNANT Testifies That Rowland, Then Manager, Engineered ‘Fixing’ of Rival Players. SCHALK, COLLINS NAMED White Sox Won All Games in the Alleged Deal — Risberg to Face Accused Players Wednesday. WHITE SOX BOUGHT 4 GAMES, IS CHARGE. New York Times (1923-Current file),p. 1. Retrieved April 26, 2010, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 – 2006). (Document ID: 96628270).