The story of Oscar “Happy” Felsch could have been a rags to riches tale. Armed with only a sixth grade education but the skills of an all-time great, the affable Milwaukee native was one of the greatest players in the American League not long after joining the Chicago White Sox in 1916.
He was a key player in the team’s 1917 World Series championship but like others in the Sox clubhouse had become disenchanted with the disparity in salary among his teammates. Gamblers were on the periphery and by the late summer of 1919, Felsch fell into a plan that would cost him his career.
The RMY Auctions Photo of the Day is an image from that historic season. The original 4 ¼” x 8” silver gelatin photo bears the result of a long ago photo editor’s work. It has been stored in a newspaper archive for decades and is among more than 300 images currently up for bid.
Felsch would be one of the “Eight Men Out”, banned for participating in the Black Sox betting scandal of 1919. He received $5,000, stashed in his locker, but the 1920 season would be his last in the majors.
Felsch continued to play for many years in local leagues and barnstorming trips but made his living in a variety of ways until his death in 1964.
Despite the early end to a promising career, Felsch remained honest about his involvement and was almost always upbeat but in interviews with writers later in life he spoke of his disdain for the penny-pinching Sox owner, Charlie Comiskey, which led to the players’ decision to throw the Series.
“I don’t know how it happened,” Felsch said. “But it did. It was a crazy time.”
There are other Black Sox-related photos in the auction, which concludes August 16 at RMYAuctions.com.