Year In Review : 1919 National League
Off the field...
A federal prohibition act known as the "Volstead Act" was passed over the veto of President Woodrow Wilson making provisions for the enforcement of the Eighteenth Amendment, which strictly forbid the manufacturing, sale, importing, or exporting of all intoxicating liquors. The act defined an intoxicating beverage as one containing more than .5% alcohol by volume and included all hard liquors and wines. It also gave federal agents the power to investigate and prosecute violations of the amendment at their own discretion.
On September 9th, three-quarters of the Boston police force voted to go on strike. Massachusetts Governor Calvin Coolidge quickly intervened to dismiss the strikers, stating that no labor dispute would be allowed to compromise public safety.
Race riots erupted in twenty-six U.S. cities during the summer including an extremely violent protest in Chicago that left thirty-eight dead, more than five-hundred injured, and many more homeless. The killing of a black teenager at the 26th Street beach sparked the conflict, but racial tension had been brewing in the "Windy City" for years.
In the American League...
In December, Colonel Jacob Ruppert purchased Babe Ruth from Boston Red Sox owner Harry Frazee. The New York Yankees owner paid a reported sum of $125,000 and guaranteed a $300,000 loan with Fenway Park as collateral for the promising pitcher/infielder who had completed the last season with fifty-four home runs and a .847 slugging percentage.
Chicago White Sox ace Eddie Cicotte (a member of the "Black Sox" scandal) beat the Philadelphia Athletics for the twelfth straight time on June 14th en route to a 29-7 season and an astounding 1.82 ERA.
On June 23rd, Boston Red Sox first baseman Stuffy McInnis made his first fielding error after successfully handling five-hundred twenty-six chances.
In the National League...
On June 8th, the Philadelphia Phillies outsmarted the New York Giants and broke the record for most stolen bases in an inning (set by Washington in 1915) after four runners made it to first base in the ninth and each stole both second and third.
Brooklyn Dodger Ed Konetchy went five-for-five on July 1st during a 9-4 win over the Philadelphia Phillies tallying his tenth straight hit and tying a record set by Washington's Jake Gettman in 1897.
The National League voted to ban the use of spitball's by all new pitchers. The ban was formally worked out by the Rules Committee the following February and was expanded to include the use of all foreign substances (saliva, resin, talcum powder, paraffin) as well as any other alterations (shine or emery) to balls by pitchers.
Around the league...
Anticipating a poor season at the gate, major league owners decided to open a reduced one-hundred forty game season. Despite the lack of close races, attendance remained high all year and every club managed to show a profit at the end of the year.
The 1919 World Series ignited the infamous "Black Sox" scandal after eight members of the participating White Sox including pitchers Eddie Cicotte and Claude (Lefty) Williams, outfielders Joe Jackson and Happy Felsch, first baseman Chick Gandil, shortstop Swede Risberg, third baseman Buck Weaver and reserve infielder Fred McMullin were all charged with conspiring to fix the outcome of the Fall Classic against the Cincinnati Reds. Cynics were tipped off before the Series even started when the pre-game betting odds swapped shortly before the first game. Despite the rumors, most fans and members of the press accepted the games to be true, but all that would change in 1920 as suspicions turned into confessions. To this day participants in the conspiracy have been denied entry into the Baseball Hall of Fame.