The 1919 World Series was infamous because of the Black Sox scandal, where eight members of Chicago’s American League baseball team conspired to throw the postseason series.
It’s ingrained in pop culture. There’s the immortal quote — real or made up — by the boy pleading with “Shoeless” Joe Jackson at the courthouse steps, “Say it ain’t so, Joe,” which was later preserved on film in the movie Eight Men Out. In The Godfather Part II, mob character Hyman Roth tells Michael Corleone that “I loved baseball ever since Arnold Rothstein fixed the World Series in 1919.”
So there has always been some fascination with this tainted World Series. The 1919 season was trimmed to 140 games because owners believed attendance would be lower after World War I (they were wrong), but the World Series was expanded to a best-of-nine series; in 1918 it was a best-of-seven, a format that had been in place since 1905 (the first World Series, in 1903, also was a best-of-nine playoff).
Memorabilia from the 1919 World Series has always been coveted, so a press pin is one of those rare glimpses into baseball history. In its upcoming Spring Premier Auction that begins May 24, SCP Auctions will be offering a press pin that was distributed to sportswriters at Comiskey Park. This is the same pin that sold for $20,400 in the spring of 2016 by Robert Edward Auctions.
What is notable about this pin is that it includes a slightly torn white silk ribbon that reads “Press Worlds Series 1919.” The pin itself bears the likeness of Chicago White Sox owner Charles Comiskey. The back story behind these pins is that Comiskey, whose team won the 1917 World Series, used the same design during that postseason, when the White Sox defeated the New York Giants in six games. “The Old Roman,” known as a miser, kept costs down by keeping the same design. Of course, his cheapness was the biggest reason that eight of his players plotted to throw the World Series in the first place.
A pair of raised socks, a baseball and the capitalized letters spelling out “Comiskey Park” make up the front of the gold-colored pin. The ribbon measures 3¼ inches wide by three-quarters of an inch long and contains a pair of rips.
“This is an extremely rare press pin with some incredible history behind it,” SCP Auctions spokesman Terry Melia said. “We’ve only seen two of these ever go up for auction, and this is the only one that still includes its original silk white ribbon.
“We know it’s something special.”
Witness to Infamy
For the record, the Cincinnati Reds won the 1919 World Series, five games to three. When this pin was actually issued is unclear, but four games were played at Comiskey Park — Games 3, 4, and 5, and Game 8.
While SCP Auctions knows who the consignor is for the World Series pin, officials are not saying who the person is, or who the pin might have been issued to.
Still, it is fascinating to speculate who might have worn this particular pin — after all, more than 400 credentials were issued to sports reporters for the Series. For example, it could have belonged to Hugh Fullerton of the Chicago Herald and Examiner, who smelled a rat as the Series unfolded. Or the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Jim Nasium, the pen name of cartoonist/writer Edgar Forrest Wolfe. Sportswriting giants Grantland Rice, Ring Lardner and Damon Runyon covered the Series, too.
Regardless, the 1919 World Series is a famous — or infamous — event in baseball history. There is a good chance that this press pin could fetch even more than it did in 2016.