Eddie Cicotte may have had some gripes but in early August of 1919, he was probably feeling pretty good. He was having a good season pitching for a very good Chicago White Sox team. He knew a 25 win season was within easy reach and the 30 he’d need to score a bonus from owner Charlie Comiskey was almost certain. More bonus money awaited if the Sox could win the World Series that fall.
Cicotte’s valuable right arm was getting the attention of trainer Harry Stephenson when this photo was taken. Despite making just $6,000 per year—well below what a pitcher of his stature should have been getting--Cicotte was putting in a lot of innings. Little did he know that just two months later, he’d be become embroiled in the biggest scandal in baseball history.
This previously unknown photograph of Cicotte seeing Stephenson in the Black Sox clubhouse is our RMY Auctions Photo of the Day. It’s one of the most intriguing items in their Premier Auction, currently underway.
Cicotte was the ace of the Sox staff and when some disgruntled players came to him about a plan to throw the World Series and earn a hefty payday to spite the owner they felt was a cheapskate, he thought long and hard about it.
Eventually, Cicotte agreed to ‘take a dive’ and was at the center of the scandal that blew up the pages of every newspaper sports section in the country. In Game One, Cicotte hit Reds leadoff man Morrie Rath in the back, a pitch that served as a signal to the gamblers who conspired with the dirty Sox players that the fix was in.
Of the eight Black Sox players called into suspicion, Cicotte was the first to come forward. He signed a letter of confession and though he was actually acquitted of conspiracy charges, he and the seven others including Joe Jackson, were still banned for life by commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis.
The photo measures 8x10 and is in outstanding condition with a small corner chip and a crease which has been lightly reinforced on the back. The back is date stamped and carries notations from its use in newspapers.
It’s one of hundreds of historic photos currently being offered at RMYAuctions.com.