The true story of the 1919 Chicago White Sox
who were bribed into throwing the World Series.
Eight Men Out (1988)
Written and Directed by John Sayles
Starring John Cusack, David Strathairn, John Mahoney,
Michael Rooker, Charlie Sheen, Christopher Lloyd, Clifton James, Michael Lerner, Bill Irwin, Kevin Tighe, D.B. Sweeney,
James Read, Michael Mantell, Don Harvey, Gordon Clapp
Based on the book by Eliot Asinof
After I watched Field of Dreams and learned about the 1919 World Series and the scandal behind it, I made sure I watched Eight Men Out. This film dramatizes that insane story and details the many bribes, threats, and bad decisions that went into fixing the Series. The 1919 Chicago White Sox became known in the press as the Black Sox, and even though they were found innocent in a court of law, they were still banned from playing major league baseball forever. The worst part is that it wasn't the entire team. It was only a handful of players who were in on the fix, but they all suffered for it. This tarnished the legacy of innocent players like Buck Weaver (Cusack) and Shoeless Joe Jackson (Sweeney) forever.
When some two-bit gangsters get the bright idea to put a fix on the World Series, they talk to the White Sox because they're going broke. Their manager, Charles Comiskey (James), is a cheap son of a bitch who won't pay them their bonuses. Seeing this as a quick payday, some of the players, led primarily by Chick Gandil (Rooker) decide to accept the bribe to throw the games. When powerful crime boss Arnold Rothstein (Lerner) joins the action, things become a lot more serious and it becomes impossible to back out. The other players become aware of the fix, but they don't rat out their friends. Once the press gets wind of the possibility of a scandal, the Sox become the face of baseball corruption. It's an engaging look at one of baseball's darkest hours.
John Sayles does a great job telling this story, and he does so in such a way that the guilty are demonized and the innocent are pitied. This scandal happened right after the end of World War I, when America was fairly prosperous and extremely patriotic. The idea that something as American as the World Series could be corrupted was horrifying. Unfortunately, the White Sox will never break free of this stigma, and it makes for a damn good story.