In 1919, on this day "Shoeless" Joe Jackson, deeply traumatized by the Comiskey Park fire, quit professional baseball for good and left Chicago.
Disaster at Comiskey Park by Chris OakleyEven the most jaded Chicagoans were stunned by Jackson's decision; as he was leaving his house to board a train back to South Carolina, one distraught boy could be heard pleading "Say it ain't so, Joe!"
In 1919, on this day the Detroit Tigers beat the Chicago White Sox 3-2 to clinch the American League pennant; Chicago's last hope victory was dashed when "Shoeless" Joe Jackson (pictured) struck out with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth. White Sox fans were quick to protest the strikeout call; one particularly irate spectator lit his game program on fire and waved it menacingly at winning pitcher Hooks Dauss, not realizing he had dropped his still lit match.
Disaster at Comiskey Park by Chris OakleyWithin minutes Comiskey Park itself was in flames; sportswriters Hugh Fullerton and Ring Lardner, who'd barely made it out alive, phoned a running account of the disaster to Fullerton's editor across town. By the time the fire was extinguished, the park and dozens of blocks of the surrounding neighborhood lay in ruins. Among the fire's casualties were Abe Attell; ex-Philadelphia boxer Billy Maharg, a co-conspirator with Attell and "Sleepy" Bill Burns in the now-dead scheme to fix the 1919 World Series; White Sox traveling secretary Harry Grabiner; and Sox pitcher Eddie Cicotte, who succumbed to smoke inhalation en route to a local hospital. Sox reserve infielder Freddie MacMullin was permanently paralyzed from the waist down when his spine was severed by falling debris as he was fleeing the park.
In 1920, on this day "Sleepy" Bill Burns died of gunshot wounds sustained four days earlier in an ambush outside a Manhattan speakeasy; he thus became one of the earliest and most notorious casualties of America's Prohibition-era gang wars.
The Death of "Sleepy" Bill BurnsShortly after Burns' death, a letter he'd written prior to the ambush arrived at the offices of the New York City U.S. district attorney.
Burn's had described at length Arnold Rothstein's role in the long-defunct plot to fix the 1919 World Series.
"I told them I had the hundred thousand dollars to handle the throwing of the World Series. I also told them that I had the names of the men who were going to finance it.That letter would subsequently lead to Rothstein's arrest and indictment on racketeering charges.
Rothstein would be sentenced to consecutive ten-year prison terms for his crimes and die of a stroke just after beginning the second of those terms.