Last Thursday while driving home I thought I heard John Thorn while on “Sports Byline USA” radio, which was doing a 20th Century Sprots Retrospective show, casually assert that not only was the 1919 World Series fixed, but that the 1914 Series was fixed too. Anybody know anything about this particular fix?
The Philadelphia Athletics, who had won 3 of the past 4 World Series, were heavy favorites over the Boston Braves, who had made an inspiring run from the cellar to win the pennant.
However, the new Federal League was starting up and some players were getting tempted away from Mack’s Athletics by large salaries. (Mack was not known for his largesse).
The Braves ended up sweeping the heavily favored Athletics. In the offseason, many Athletics players left for the Federal League, the ones who stayed were shipped off to other teams. The 1915 A’s were horrible.
Some have conjectured that the A’s weren’t giving their best effort and Mack realized it and that’s why he got rid of them. However, I don’t believe there’s been any evidence of any planned fix as there was in 1919.
Connie Mack didn’t like having consistent champions anyway. He felt you would make more money if the team was always consistently in a pennant race. That way you would get bigger gates at the end of the year. If you won the World Series every year, you would get fans with high expectations (see today’s Atlanta Braves) and players demanding higher salaries.
I might point out too that the 1914 A’s, although they won the pennant, were in serious financial trouble that season–before the Series started. How much of this one can ascribe to the emergence of the Federal League is open to conjecture.
There is, however, no evidence of any kind that the 1914 Series was fixed and a great deal of evidence that the 1914 Boston Braves was a much better team than given credit for. Check out Bill James on this one.
I agree, Lawrence. If one assumes that the 1914 Series was fixed, why not assume it about the entire NL season? After all, the Braves were in last place as late as July 19! Why not assume that the other contenders–the Giants, the Dodgers, and the Phillies–were on the take, to have the season’s second half go the way it went? And the Braves won the pennant over the Giants by 10 1/2 games–aw, you get the idea.
I prefer to follow a principle of logic known as “Occam’s Razor” or the “principle of parsimony,” i.e., The simplest explanation that covers all the facts is most likely to be the correct one. The idea that Stallings’ Braves beat Connie Mack’s A’s because of a fix is just plain far-fetched.
As the original poster I am glad to know that the Miracle Braves win was in fact a miracle and not a fix. Thanks!
The “traditional” explanation for the Braves’ upset win in the Series (the first-ever sweep, IIRC), was that the Athletics got cocky. Refered to the Braves as “bush leaguers.” Didn’t bother scouting them. Pride going before the fall, and all that.
And IIRC #2 – they were always the “Athletics” when in Philly; didn’t become the “A’s” (at least not officially) until Charlie O. moved them to KC. But I digress…
They’re still officially the Athletics, I think. I mean, their jerseys say “Athletics” on them. It’s just the caps that say “A’s,” which doesn’t mean much, really.
“You couldn’t fool your mother on the foolingest day of your life if you had an electrified fooling machine.”
Actually Finley did formally dispense with “Athletics” during the A’s glory years of 1972-1974. He actually preferred the “Swinging A’s”.
When the Haas family assumed control of the team in the 1980s, “Athletics” was restored and became the preferred usage. Coincidentally, once they became the Athletics again and restored the white elephant logo, they started winning again.
Connie Mack was still manager of the A’s (he was manager 1901-1950!) in the late 1940s, long after the team’s glory days; they spent most of the time in the last 15 years of his time as manager, in or near the second division and finished dead last several times.
One day a shoeshine boy asked Connie for a tip after shining his shoes.
The manager snapped, “Don’t bet on the A’s!”