He was always smiling but if the Chicago White Sox third baseman knew the fate that awaited him during the prime of his career, George “Buck” Weaver might not have been so cheery.
A rare 8×10 news photo of the affable White Sox third baseman, taken during the 1919 Chicago White Sox season, is our Photo of the Day. It’s among more than 350 photos up for auction through Sunday at RMY Auctions.com
Weaver, one of the ‘Eight Men Out’, was banned from baseball not for playing to lose, but for knowing his teammates were planning to do so and not telling owner Charles Comiskey. Some of his teammates, fed up with Comiskey, hatched the plan with gamblers. Weaver listened, but his .324 Series average and perfect fielding were evidence he chose not to go in on it.
“Though they are hopeless and heartless, the White Sox have a hero,” typed one writer for the Cincinnati Post after the 1919 Series. “He is George Weaver, who plays and fights at third base. Day after day Weaver has done his work and smiled. In spite of the certain fate that closed about the hopes of the Sox, Weaver smiled and scrapped. One by one his mates gave up. Weaver continued to grin and fight harder.”
Despite the growing storm as the 1920 season played out, Weaver was brilliant. He had signed a three-year, $7,250 contract with Comiskey and proved worthy by having his best season, with a .331 average and 208 hits, leading the Sox to a second straight pennant.
Weaver had widespread support for his notion that he hadn’t participated in the fix but by banning him at age 31, Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis had made a statement: stay silent about gambling influences and pay the ultimate price.