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Did The Cubs Throw The 1918 World Series? Another Look

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Chicago Cubs Helmet (Photo Credit: Getty Images, By: Christian Petersen)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Here is a closer look at those dusty old documents recently unearthed by the Chicago History Museum, suggesting that the Cubs might have thrown the World Series 10 years after they last won it.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Bernie Tafoya reports, the suggestion is that one or more Cubs players might have taken money to fix the World Series against the Boston Red Sox.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Bernie Tafoya reports

See The Documents, From The Chicago History Museum

But the accusation came in 1920 during a court deposition of White Sox pitcher Eddie Cicotte. He was part of the Black Sox scandal of 1919.

Cicotte says in the deposition that “the boys on the club” talked about how a Cub or a number of Cubs were offered $10,000 to throw the 1918 Series they lost 4-2 to the Boston Red Sox.

Cicotte is as vague as vague can be, failing to name any names or provide any details about how the players might have done it or even if he believes the Cubs threw the Series. But if what he suggests is true it means that when it came to fixing ball games in the early 20th century, Chicago was nobody’s Second City.

If Cicotte’s deposition lacks specifics, it does offer a glimpse into the life of a player when their lives were a lot more like the working stiffs who rooted for them than the wealthy owners they played for.

Eddie Cicotte

Eddie Cicotte (Photo Credit: AP Photo/File)

Players commonly groused about being underpaid and there wasn’t anyone in the majors who didn’t hear rumors about fixes. It was impossible not to see the gamblers at the games, the lobbies of the hotels where they stayed or in the taverns where they drank.

And they talked about such rumors all the time, including, Cicotte said, on a long train ride from Chicago to the East Coast.

“The ball players were talking about somebody trying to fix the National League ball players or something like that,” Cicotte is quoted as saying in the deposition.

“Well anyway there was some talk about them offering $10,000 or something to throw the Cubs in the Boston Series,” he said. “Somebody made a crack about getting money, if we got into the Series, to throw the Series.”

Cicotte apparently likes the sound of $10,000 because that is what he said somebody left in his hotel room for his role in the fix of the 1919 Series. He died in 1969.

The Chicago History Museum got their hands on the Cicotte deposition in 2007, when the institution won an auction for a packet of documents relating to the 1919 Black Sox scandal.

Says the History Museum’s Peter Alter on the institution’s Web site: “Were the Cubs so good in 1918 that they had to try to lose? That year the North Siders lost to Babe Ruth and the Boston Red Sox, four games to two.”

Also, Alter said, the 1918 season had been cut short because the United States had recently entered World War I and the federal government wanted to focus on the war effort. Further, the Cubs didn’t even play their home games on the North Side, instead choosing the White Sox’ Comiskey Park.

So 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 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.”

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS Radio and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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