By John A. Lupton, Supreme Court Historic Preservation Commission
The Supreme Court Historic Preservation Commission announces its latest entry in its long-running History on Trial series: the Chicago “Black Sox.” The presentation will examine the 1919 Chicago White Sox allegedly throwing the World Series in their 5 games to 3 loss to the Cincinnati Reds and the legal ramifications following.
This will be a theatrical production in Springfield and Chicago, followed by a panel discussion of legal and baseball experts. The first production will be on Tuesday, October 25, 2022, at 7:00 pm at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, 212 N. Sixth St., Springfield. The second production will be on Wednesday, November 2, 2022, at 6:30 pm at the Spertus Institute, 610 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago.
Ticket information will be available soon at https://www.illinoiscourthistory.org/history-on-trial.
This year will feature the trials related to eight members of the 1919 Chicago White Sox, who allegedly threw the World Series to the Cincinnati Reds, losing 5 games to 3. In 1921, all of the Black Sox were acquitted or not tried. This stage presentation will feature actors portraying the players, lawyers, and judges to explore the legal aspects of the cases that appeared in the Cook County Circuit Court and elsewhere in the early 1920s.
The 1919 World Series has been the subject of many books and movies. The 1963 Eliot Asinof book Eight Men Out, as well as the 1988 movie of the same name popularized many longstanding myths about the team and its owner Charles Comiskey. The Society of Baseball Research (SABR) has done some recent studies into the subject, finding that gambling was prevalent in the early twentieth century and that Comiskey was not as miserly as portrayed in books and movies. SABR’s findings can be found here: https://sabr.org/eight-myths-out.
The History on Trial event was featured at the September 22 baseball game at Guaranteed Rate Field with a short segment of the presentation featured on stage outside Gate 4 and with a two-minute teaser video on the center field big screen.
Beginning in 2011, the Supreme Court Historic Preservation Commission has produced History on Trial to highlight modern public policy issues through the lens of historical trials. Previous events include retrials and trial presentations on Lincoln assassination co-conspirator Mary Surratt, Mary Lincoln’s insanity hearing, Mormon prophet Joseph Smith’s habeas corpus trials, and the Alton school segregation cases.