2006 High School Mock Trial Case: State of Illinois v. Joseph Jefferson Wofford Jackson
In 1919, the Chicago White Sox, owned by Charlie Comiskey and managed by Willie "Kid" Gleason, won the American League pennant and was headed toward the World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. Because of the quality of their players, the Chicago White Sox team was favored to win the Series.
One or more players on the Chicago White Sox determined to make a deal with a gambling syndicate to fix the World Series. Prior to the end of the regular baseball season, Joseph Jackson, who was one of the star players on the White Sox, was approached by teammate Chick Gandil about a plan to throw the Series. Jackson refused.
In the days that followed players and gamblers made arrangements and agreements which were on one day and off the next, concerning the players' share of the gambling proceeds. For the most part, the gamblers refused to or were unable to meet the players' demands for money in advance. Some payments were made in advance and some during the Series. Two different gambling syndicates were involved, in effect bidding against each other, with both seeking cash from Arnold Rothstein, a wealthy New York gambler. Even as the Series began, there were questions as to whether there was an agreement to throw the Series.
Rumors about a fix circulated before the Series began. Jackson, was sufficiently troubled by these rumors to seek to have himself benched for the first game, but Manager Gleason refused this request. After the first game, which the Sox lost, Gleason discussed the rumors with Comiskey but had no proof to offer. Comiskey took the reported rumors to officials of both leagues, but, in part because he had no direct proof, his concerns were dismissed as sour grapes because his team was losing.
The Reds won five of eight games to become the world champions of 1919. After the Series, Jackson was given $5000 by teammate Lefty Williams. Jackson became irate and claimed that he was not part of plan to throw the World Series. On the next morning, Jackson tried to see Comiskey to report on the money given to him, but his efforts were rebuffed.
Comiskey conducted a private investigation into the gambling rumors but learned nothing, except that Gandil's financial situation had improved. Soon the 1919 Series was forgotten and preparations for the 1920 season began. When Jackson returned, his 1920 contract unsigned, he was visited by Harry Grabiner, Comiskey's secretary, who urged Jackson to sign for the amount being offered and reminded Jackson that Comiskey knew all about Jackson receiving a payment to throw the Series.
When more rumors regarding fixing other baseball games erupted during the 1920 season, baseball's commissioner launched a full-scale investigation into a broad range of alleged misconduct throughout baseball, which included the 1919 Series. One of the gamblers talked, and that broke open the investigation, leading to Jackson and seven other players being charged. Pending the trial, Comiskey suspended Jackson and the other suspected teammates from playing for the White Sox.
Jackson was charged with six crimes: gambling; accepting a bribe; failure to report offer of a bribe; attempt to gamble; attempt to accept a bribe; and conspiracy to gamble.