I have really enjoyed perusing SABR’s Eight Myths Out Series. Jacob Pomrenke and the rest of the many historians involved have done terrific work and it is a tribute to what a bright and meticulous team can accomplish.
The title of the project is a nod to the book and subsequent film “Eight Men Out”. As a promotion for the movie a trading card set was produced. It is a fun 110 card set that I enjoy because it falls at the intersection of two of my hobbies, baseball and film.
1988 Orion Pictures Eight Men Out #5 The Black Sox Scandal
Since the eight myths are responses to ideas introduced in “Eight Men Out” the book and further propagated by the film several of the cards are also connected to these myths.
Today we will look at some of the myth cards. I envision this as a three column series covering four myths in each of the first two postings followed by a non-myth set summary/highlights closer.
Myth #1 Comiskey as Scrooge
1988 Orion Pictures Eight Men Out #80 Charles A Comiskey
Myth #1 is covered on card #80 – if this was a Topps set it would be a Hero Number! OK, maybe a low-level star number. While this is a nice era appropriate profile picture of Comiskey when we flip the card over we start talking Scrooge…
1988 Orion Pictures Eight Men Out #80 Charles A Comiskey (back)
The text opens discussing Comiskey’s Hall of Fame credentials but things turn in paragraph 3. “Tightfisted” and “Dollar-Pinching” are the two adjectives used to describer Comiskey. The card also mentions Dickey Kerr who is discussed in one of the further reading bullets for Myth 8.
Myth #2 The Cicotte “Bonus”
1988 Orion Pictures Eight Men Out #6 Eddie Cicotte 29-7 in 1919
I love the statistical reference which is given as the sub-line on this card. The 29-7 record of Cicotte is a subtle / not-so-subtle nod to the 30 wins that the pitcher did not achieve in 1919. There are 110 cards in this set and this is the ONLY one that has stats on the front.
1988 Orion Pictures Eight Men Out #6 Eddie Cicotte 29-7 in 1919 (b-side)
The back of the card does not mention the benching of Cicotte at all.
Myth #3 Gamblers Initiated the Fix
1988 Orion Pictures Eight Men Out #19 The Key is Cicotte
Cicotte is mentioned by name on our myth #3 card as well, but it features gamblers “Sleepy” Bill Burns and Billy Maharg. Turns out the card (book and film) has the facts reversed. It was Eddie Cicotte along with Chick Gandil that approached the gamblers.
Myth #4 The Hitman: “Harry F.”
1988 Orion Pictures Eight Men Out #60 Lefty is Threatened
For legal reasons Eliot Asinof created a fictional character, Hitman “Harry F.”. According to “Eight Men Out” the hitman threatened Lefty Williams. The mythical threat is mentioned on card #60 above.
Once again I urge you to check out “Eight Myths Out” to further understand the facts/myths involved, I have only touched upon each bullet here as a connection with the related card.
This concludes part one of our series dedicated to Eight Men/Myths Out. Hopefully in the next week or so we will cover the bottom half of the myths.
Sources and Links
Eight Men Out set index (Phungo)
5 thoughts on “Of Myths and Men (pt 1)”
Picked this set up for $5 in Cooperstown. Any set with multiple Studs Terkel cards is a must have!
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There are two aspects to this post.
One is the fabulous work done by the ‘Eight Myths Out’ committee. I started reading some of the report and it is truly fascinating. Caps off to all involved.
The other aspect is the set of cards. I have a set. it looks like they came out in 1988 or 1989 following the release of the movie. I must admit that besides card # 54, which features the words to John Sayles’ immortal rendering of the song “I’m Forever Blowing Ballgames” , I never had much interest in the movie-related cards. What gripped me were the tinted black and whites of the actual players from both teams.
Although I know some of them to be Conlons, most of them are not otherwise in my collection, either as Conlons or anything else, and some are truly extraordinary.
From the Reds, Roush, Sallee, Fisher, Ruether, Daubert, Groh, and manager Moran are excellent. From the White Sox Jackson, Kerr, Schalk, Felsch, Gandil, Shano Collins , manager Gleason, the above pictured Comiskey, and Weaver are all outstanding. The Weaver card, in particular, qualifies as a candidate for All Time Ugly (with apologies to Buck and his successors).
I keep the player cards separate from the rest of the set, in my catalogue of World Series winners and losers. Such is their quality. The backs feature the player’s performance in the Series and some lifetime stats in addition to some commentary.
Kudos to Orion, for including the player cards as part of the set, to Charles Conlon, who was clearly responsible for most of the photos, and to whoever else may have bothered to snap them.
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What a great idea to do the Baseball Card companion to the rest of the SABR research! One link I might add of special interest to collectors is a five-part series Anson Whaley did for his Pre-War Cards website. It looks at the cardboard legacies of the key figures from the scandal: Black Sox, White Sox, Reds, and others. https://prewarcards.com/2019/01/07/1919-chicago-black-sox-100-years-anniversary-white-sox-joe-jackson-eddie-cicotte-buck-weaver-chick-gandil/