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Hollywood Theatre

Hollywood Theatre

Eight Men Out

Hollywood Theatre "Eight Men Out"
Airs Saturday, March 30 at 9:00 PM

The 1919 Chicago White Sox are considered the greatest team in baseball and, in fact, one of the greatest ever assembled to that point. However, the team's owner, Charles Comiskey, is a skinflint with little inclination to reward his players for a spectacular season.

When a gamblers gets wind of the players' discontent, it offers a select group of Sox -- including star pitcher Eddie Cicotte -- more money to play badly than they would have earned by winning the World Series against the Cincinnati Reds.
A number of players, including Chick Gandil, Swede Risberg, and Lefty Williams, go along with the scheme. The team's greatest star, Shoeless Joe Jackson, is depicted as being not very bright and not entirely sure what is going on. Buck Weaver, meanwhile, is included with the seven others but insists that he wants nothing to do with the fix.

When the best-of-nine series begins, Cicotte deliberately pitches poorly to lose the first game. Williams does likewise in Game 2, while Gandil and Hap Felsch make glaring mistakes on the field. Several of the players become upset, however, when the various gamblers involved fail to pay their promised money up front.
 


Chicago journalists Ring Lardner and Hugh Fullerton grow increasingly suspicious. Meanwhile, the team's manager, Kid Gleason, continues to hear rumors of a fix, but he remains confident that his boys will come through in the end.

A third pitcher not in on the scam, Dickey Kerr, wins Game 3 for the Sox, making both gamblers and teammates uncomfortable. Other teammates such as Ray Schalk continue to play hard, while Weaver and Jackson show no visible signs of taking a dive. Cicotte, who won 29 games during the season, loses again in Game 4. With the championship now in jeopardy, Gleason intends to bench him from his next start, but Cicotte begs for another chance. The manager reluctantly agrees and is rewarded with a victory in Game 7. Unpaid by the gamblers, Williams also intends to do his best, but when his wife's life is threatened, he purposely pitches badly to lose the final game.

Cincinnati wins the World Series (5 games to 3) to the shock of Sox fans. Even worse, sportswriter Fullerton exposes the strong possibility that this series was not on the level. His findings cause Comiskey and the other owners to appoint a new commissioner of baseball, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, and give him complete authority over the sport.

Eight players are indicted and brought to trial. Cicotte, Williams, and Jackson even sign confessions. But in court, while Weaver maintains his innocence, the confessions are mysteriously found to be stolen, and the popular Chicago players are found not guilty. While they celebrate, however, Judge Landis bans all eight from professional baseball for life, citing their failure to reveal being approached by gambling interests in the first place.

Weaver is among those exiled from the game. The final scene shows him in the bleachers of a New Jersey minor league ballpark, watching Jackson play under an assumed name.

Visit the local Hollywood Theatre website for more information on this and other related programs.