The Black Sox Trial: Trial Summations (Excerpts)

Summation for the prosecution by Assistant State's Attorney, Edward Prindeville (July 29, 1921):

What more convincing proof do you want than the statement by the ballplayers?  Joe Jackson, Eddie Cicotte, and Williams sold out the American public for a paltry $20,000.  They collected the money, but they could not keep quiet.  Their consciences would not let them rest.  When the scandal broke, they sought out the State's Attorney's office and made their confessions voluntarily.  Cicotte told his story to Chief Justice MacDonald.  Then he told it to the Grand Jury.  He was followed to the Grand Jury room by Jackson and Williams.  On evidence which they gave the jurors, Bill Burns, the State's star witness, was indicted.  They have called Bums a squealer, but I tell you that he owes his connection in the case to what these defendant ballplayers have confessed....

This is an unusual case as it deals with a class of men who are involved in the great national game which all red-blooded men follow.  This game, gentlemen, has been the subject of a crime.  The public, the club owners, even the small boys on the sandlots have been swindled.  That is why these defendants are charged with conspiracy.

This conspiracy started when Eddie Cicotte told Burns in New York that if the White Sox won the pennant there was something on and he would let him in on it.  All the way through you will find that Cicotte's statements are corroborated by Burns and vice versa.

Cicotte was advised of his rights, yet he told his story.  He told of the ten thousand dollars he got under his pillow.  He told of meeting his pals and talking over the conspiracy details.  He told of watching while his companions filed one by one from the meeting place so as not to raise suspicions of the honest players.  Then what did this idol of the diamond do?  He went home and took the ten thousand dollars from under his pillow.  Of course he was uneasy!

Then, the gamblers met again on the morning before the World Series began.  The gamblers accepted the players' terms.  It was agreed that Cicotte should lose the first game.  Of course he lost.  With ten thousand dollars in his pocket, how could you expect him to keep his balance and win.  The weight would bear him down!

Gentlemen, you will find that Burns was also corroborated in his testimony by Joe Jackson and Williams.  Jackson tells you he got the five thousand dollars after the fourth game-

[O'Brien, interrupting: "I suppose that sharpened his batting average!"]

He certainly was batting 1000% when he got the $5,000! Swede Pisberg then tells you he had a cold.  The only trouble with him was that he had an overdose of conspiracy in his hide.  You recall the defendants said they could not win for Kerr because he was a busher.  Abe Attell told them to win and they won!  There is no pitcher on God's green earth who could have won that ball game if the defendants had not backed him up!

I say, gentlemen, that the evidence shows that a swindle and a con game has been worked on the American people.  The crime in this case warrants the most severe punishment of the law.  This country is for sending criminals to the penitentiary whether they are idols of the baseball diamond or gangsters guilty of robbery with a gun.  Unless the jury, by convicting the ballplayers in this trial, does its part to stamp out gambling that is corrupting baseball, I predict restrictive legislation for baseball such as has been enacted for boxing and horseracing.

The State is asking in this case for a verdict of guilty with five years in the penitentiary and a fine of $2,000 for each defendant!

Summation for the prosecution by Assistant State's Attorney George Gorman:

The attorneys for the defense will ask for mercy.  They point out that Lefty Williams got only five hundred dollars a month for his services.  They charge that Charles Comiskey, the grand old man of baseball, is persecuting the players because he has tried to clean out rottenness in the national game.  Gentlemen, Charles Comiskey wants to keep the game clean for the American public and I will tell you now that if the owners don't get busy when rottenness crops up, baseball won't last long.

Comiskey gave these men a job.  And here we find the defendants deliberately conspiring to injure and destroy his business.  They have hit at Billy Maharg, the man who corroborated him.  They tell you, at least three of their clients, Eddie Cicotte, Lefty Williams, and Joe Jackson have condemned themselves so badly that I donít see how you can acquit them.  In his confession, Eddie Cicotte tells how the games were fixed.  Then we have the spectacle of the public going to the game believing it was on the square.  Thousands of men throughout the chilly hours of the night, crouched in line waiting for the opening for the first World Series game.  All morning they waited, eating a sandwich, perhaps never daring to leave their places for a moment.  There they waited to see the great Cicotte pitch a ballgame.  Gentlemen, they went to see a ballgame.  But all they saw was a con game!
 


August 1, 1921: Summation for the Defense by Attorney Ben Short (for the players):

The State failed to establish criminal conspiracy.  There may have been an agreement entered by the defendants to take the gambler's money, but it has not been shown the players had any intention of defrauding the public or of bringing the game into ill repute.  They believed any arrangement they may have made was a secret one and would, therefore, reflect no discredit on the national pastime or injure the business of their employer as it would never be detected!....

Summation for the Defense by A. Morgan Frumberg (for the gamblers):

Arnold Rothstein came here to Chicago during the Grand Jury investigation and immediately went to Alfred Austrian, the White Sox attorney.  What bowing and scraping must have taken place when 'Arnold the Just,' the millionaire gambler, entered the sanctum of "Alfred the Great." By his own testimony, Mr. Austrian admits conducting the financier to the Grand Jury and bringing him back unindicted!....
Why was [Rothstein] not indicted?  Why were Brown, Sullivan, Attell, and Chase allowed to escape?  Why were these underpaid ballplayers, these penny-ante gamblers from Des Moines and St. Louis, who may have bet a few nickels on the World Series, brought here to be the goats in this case?  Ask the powers in baseball.  Ask Ban Johnson who pulled the strings in this case.  Ask him who saved Arnold Rothstein!

Summation for the Defense by Michael Ahearn:

Ban Johnson was the directing genius of the prosecution.  His hand runs like a scarlet thread through the whole prosecution.  Johnson is boss.  The czar of Russia never had more power over his subjects than Johnson has over the American League.  He controlled the case.  His money hired Burns and Maharg to dig up evidence.  He sent Maharg on a wild-goose chase to Mexico to find Bums.  The State's attorneys have no more control over the prosecution than a bat boy has over the direction of play in a World Series game.
Maharg came to court as an auto worker, but he flashed enough diamonds on his fingers to buy a flock of autos.  And Burns has been proved a liar in a score of instances.  He said he talked to Gandil in Chicago after the second game.  He lied.  He said he talked to the ballplayers on the morning before the opening game.  He lied.  He makes me think of a drink of moonshine:  It looks good, but when you drink it gives you a stomachache!

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