After the public had been up in arms over the compromise verdict resulting in a 25 year prison sentence for killing his wife, Carl Wanderer was again put on trial, this time for the murder of the Ragged Stranger. The lead attorneys in that first trial, prosecutor James 'Ropes' O'Brien and defense attorney Benedict Short, former adversaries in the case of Ruth Wanderer’s murder, were now working together in another trial in the same Criminal Courts building at 54 west Hubbard.
Short and O’Brien were leading the defense of eight Chicago White Sox players accused in what would later be known as the ‘black sox’ scandal. New York mobster and gambler Arnold Rothstein had supposedly fixed the 1919 World Series by bribing Shoeless Joe Jackson among others to lose to the Cincinnati Reds. Eight players and five mobsters were indicted for conspiracy to defraud.
During his questioning of potential jurors Short voiced a grave concern for the defense team as was reported in the Chicago Daily News:
“He will object to the selection of rabid Cub fans to the jury on the ground that they might be prejudiced against White Sox players.”
Like Carl Wanderer before them, several of the White Sox players, supposedly including Eddie Cicotte and Shoeless Joe, made full confessions to their roles in the matter though it is believed that they attempted to confess to knowing of the caper and only briefly participating in it before changing their minds and doing their best to win the championship. And again, like Carl Wanderer, the White Sox players would go on to repudiate their confessions in favor of going to trial. Unlike Carl though, they would not be faced with their confession in court as the signed confessions the players made disappeared from evidence before the trial started and would supposedly not reappear until decades later being found in the possession of Comiskey's personal attorney.
The jury, one would assume sans Cubs fans, quickly voted to acquit the eight ballplayers.
Despite their acquittal, the men were nonetheless banned for life from baseball. The scandal led to the creation of the office of Commissioner of baseball and that first Commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, left no chance that the acquittal might allow the men back to baseball. The day after being cleared of criminal charges, Landis released a statement that said,
"Regardless of the verdict of juries, no player that throws a ballgame; no player that undertakes or promises to throw a ballgame; no player that sits in a conference with a bunch of crooked players and gamblers where the ways and means of throwing games are planned and discussed and does not promptly tell his club about it, will ever play professional baseball."
Coming Wednesday, August 22- Lillian Gish Presents a Distraction at the Ragged Stranger Trial
Podcast Episode #5 coming Monday, August 20- Getting to Know More Strangers
This project aims to fill in the gaps where there is unknown, correct false narratives that have branched away from the truth, and most importantly, to entertain and enlighten. It has been sourced from research for my upcoming book Kisses for Julia, Bullets for Ruth: The Mystery of Carl Wanderer & the Ragged Stranger.
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