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Comiskey, who as a player had taken part in the Players' League labor rebellion in 1890, long had a reputation for underpaying his players, even though they were one of the top teams in the league and had already won the 1917 World Series.Because of baseball's reserve clause, any player who refused to accept a contract was prohibited from playing baseball on any other professional team under the auspices of "Organized Baseball." Players could not change teams without permission from their current team, and without a union the players had no bargaining power.Despite requests for reinstatement in the decades that followed (particularly in the case of Shoeless Joe Jackson), the ban remains in force.
The gamblers claimed that all the money was let out on bets, and was in the hands of the bookmakers.
After Game 5, angry at non-payment of promised money, the players involved in the fix attempted to doublecross the gamblers, and won Games 6 and 7 of the best-of-nine Series.
After throwing a strike with his first pitch of the Series, Cicotte's second pitch struck Cincinnati leadoff hitter Morrie Rath in the back, delivering a pre-arranged signal confirming the players' willingness to go through with the fix.
Lefty Williams, one of the "Eight Men Out", lost three games, a Series record.
Years later, Schalk said that if Faber had been available, the fix would have likely never happened, since Faber would have almost certainly started games that went instead to two of the alleged conspirators, Eddie Cicotte and Lefty Williams.
On October 1, the day of Game One, there were rumors amongst gamblers that the series was fixed, and a sudden influx of money being bet on Cincinnati caused the odds against them to fall rapidly.Despite the season being on the line, Comiskey suspended the seven White Sox still in the majors (Chick Gandil had not returned to the team in 1920 and was playing semi-pro ball).He said that he had no choice but to suspend them, even though this action likely cost the White Sox any chance of winning that year's American League pennant.In addition, the clubhouse was divided into two factions.One group resented the more straitlaced players (later called the "Clean Sox"), a group that included players like second baseman Eddie Collins, a graduate of Columbia College of Columbia University, catcher Ray Schalk, and pitchers Red Faber and Dickey Kerr.Rookie Dickie Kerr, who was not part of the fix, won both of his starts.But the gamblers were now reneging on their promised progress payments (to be paid after each game lost).Comiskey was probably no worse than most owners—in fact, Chicago had the largest team payroll in 1919.In the era of the reserve clause, gamblers could find players on many teams looking for extra cash—and they did.On the eve of their final season series, the White Sox were in a virtual tie for first place with the Indians.The Sox would need to win all three of their remaining games and then hope for Cleveland to stumble, as the Indians had more games left to play than the White Sox.