$1 Million Offered for Black Sox Players Confession Papers

Josh Evans of Lelands.com, announced they would  pay $1 million to anyone who can step up to the plate and bring to the National Sports Collectors Convention the actual signed confessions from the 1919 Black Sox World Series scandal, in which members of the heavily favored Chicago White Sox conspired with gamblers to intentionally lose the Series to the Cincinnati Reds. The person must bring the still-missing confessions to the Lelands.com booth at the convention, which is being held in Chicago, at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, from July 31-Aug. 4.

The offer comes on the heels of the only known ring from the Black Sox Series – presented to Reds manager Pat Moran – selling for $166,102 as part of the Lelands.com 2013 Spring Catalog Auction.

In the most famous scandal in baseball history, eight players from the White Sox – “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, Eddie Cicotte, Claude “Lefty” Williams, Buck Weaver, Arnold “Chick” Gandil, Fred McMullin, Charles “Swede” Risberg and Oscar “Happy” Felsch – were accused of fixing the 1919 World Series, which the Reds won five games to three.

The players, who became known as the “Black Sox,” were indicted on criminal charges the following year, and they signed confessions detailing their involvement in the fix. However, just before the start of the trial, the confessions mysteriously disappeared from the district attorney’s office.

Without the confessions, as well as a lack of evidence, the case fell apart, and all eight players were found innocent. Despite the acquittal, all eight were banned from baseball for life in 1921 by the game’s first commissioner, Kennesaw Mountain Landis.

“The Black Sox confessions are the Dead Sea Scrolls of baseball,” said Josh Evans, founder and chairman of Lelands.com. “Finding them would close the darkest chapter in baseball history.”

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One thought on “$1 Million Offered for Black Sox Players Confession Papers

  1. Bill Lamb on said:

    Please be advised that the documents that you seek — “the actual signed confessions ” of the Black Sox players — do not exist. Indeed, no such document has ever existed. The statements given by Eddie Cicotte and Joe Jackson on September 28, 1920 , and Lefty Williams the following day, at the law office of White Sox legal counsel Alfred Austrian were oral, taken down by an office stenographer. These statements, now readily available on-line, were never signed. By the time that the statements were transcribed, Cicottte, Jackson, and Williams had already testified before the Cook County grand jury.

    The so-called stolen confessions were actually the original transcriptions of the Cicotte, Jackson, and Williams grand jury testimony. These documents were never signed, as grand jury witness do not sign the transcripts of their testimony. Any number of Black Sox chroniclers, from Eliot Asinof onward, later mischaracterized the grand jury testimony transcripts as stolen confessions and suggest that their theft from the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office scuttled the criminal prosecution of the Black Sox. But such was hardly the case. Once prosecutors discovered that the original grand jury transcriptions were missing, they merely had the grand jury stenographers (Walter Smith and Michael Allen) recreate the transcripts from their stenographic notes. These accuracy of these second generation grand jury transcripts was not contested by Black Sox defense lawyers and the Cicotte, Jackson, and Williams grand jury testimony was admitted in evidence during the trial, following an evidentary hearing before Judge Friend on admissibility.

    Another Black Sox defendant, Happy Felsch, confessed to Chicago Evening American reporter Harry Reutlinger shortly after after the Cicotte, Jackson, and Williams grand jury testimony was leaked to the press. The Felsch-Reutlinger interview was oral, and recreated in a Reutlinger column published on September 30, 1920. There is no signed confession by Felsch, while the remaining Black Sox defendants (Buck Weaver, Swede Risberg, Chick Gandil, and Fred McMillan) all maintained their innocence.

    The “stolen confessions” saga is a myth, perpetrated 40 years after-the-fact by authors like Asinof and others who did not have access to the actual Black Sox criminal trial record, and did not know what they were writing about. So you are well advised to hang on to your money. The documents that you seek do not exist.

    Bill Lamb
    Meredith, NH

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