Baseball

Area baseball beat: Sacramento High alumnus Gedeon gambled and lost

Yuba City High School head coach Jim Stassi, center, walks off the field with his two sons Brock, left, and Max, right.
Yuba City High School head coach Jim Stassi, center, walks off the field with his two sons Brock, left, and Max, right. Sacramento Bee Staff Photo

Joe Gedeon’s knowledge of the Black Sox scandal cost him his major-league career.

The Sacramento High School product was a close friend of Chicago White Sox infielder Swede Risberg, one of the ringleaders who conspired to fix the 1919 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds that led to eight players being banned from baseball.

When Gedeon, a second baseman for the St. Louis Browns at the time, heard the World Series was fixed, he reportedly wanted in, according to a report by the Society for American Baseball Research.

During the series, according to SABR, Gedeon traveled back and forth between Chicago and Cincinnati, associated with gamblers and White Sox players and placed a few bets.

Shortly after Chicago lost the series, White Sox owner Charles Comiskey offered a $10,000 reward for information about the scandal. According to SABR, Gedeon met with Comiskey, confirming games had been fixed and implicating several prominent St. Louis gamblers. But Comiskey dismissed the information and refused to pay.

Late in the 1920 season, Chicago’s Cook County grand jury began investigating the rumored fix. After Eddie Cicotte and Shoeless Joe Jackson confessed, Comiskey suspended the seven White Sox players still in the majors.

After the season, Gedeon voluntarily appeared before the grand jury. While Risberg is believed to have pocketed $15,000, Gedeon netted around $600. When asked by the grand jury to explain his paltry winnings, Gedeon said he felt so guilty about what he knew that he didn’t bet on all the games.

The grand jury indicted eight players on charges including conspiracy to defraud, and the trial began on June 27, 1921, in Chicago. Cicotte and Jackson recanted their confessions, and the jury found all of the players not guilty. But one day later, on Aug. 3, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, baseball’s first commissioner, banned all eight players.

Three months later, according to SABR, Landis also banned Gedeon for knowing about the conspiracy.

Gedeon, who was entering his prime at 26 when he was banned, later ran into legal trouble. In October 1924, he was arrested in Sacramento for violating the 18th Amendment (prohibition). In 1933, he was caught in Seattle with $400 in counterfeit $10 bills.

Despite his banishment and brushes with the law, Gedeon became the baseball coach at Christian Brothers High School in 1934.

Gedeon died on May 19, 1941. He was 47.

Catching Up

▪ Reading (Pa.) Fightin Phils first baseman Brock Stassi (Yuba City High) was named the Eastern League MVP. He had a .300 average, 15 homers and league-leading 90 RBIs.

▪ The six-team, two-division Arizona Fall League that began Tuesday features Reading catcher Andrew Knapp (Granite Bay) and Lancaster JetHawks third baseman J.D. Davis (Elk Grove) with the Glendale Desert Dogs, and Dunedin (Fla.) Blue Jays right-hander Brady Dragmire (Bradshaw Christian) and first baseman Rowdy Tellez (Elk Grove) with the Salt River Rafters.

Mark McDermott is a freelance writer specializing in Sacramento-area baseball. Next week, he will rank the top 10 performances of the 2015 minor-league season. Contact him at egmacker@yahoo.com.

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