Alfred Austrian

To certain chroniclers of the Black Sox Scandal, the actor most deserving of censure is not 1919 World Series fix organizers Chick Gandil or Eddie Cicotte, gamblers Abe Attell or Bill Burns, or even New York City underworld kingpin Arnold Rothstein, the reputed fix financier. Villain-in-chief, rather, is Chicago White Sox owner Charles A. Comiskey. To novelist Eliot Asinof and filmmaker John Sayles, Comiskey is a skinflint boss whose miserly treatment of his players drove them to wrongdoing. Modern Black Sox scholar Gene Carney appreciates that tales of Comiskey’s cheapness are fictional — the White Sox actually had one of the highest player payrolls in baseball — but condemns Comiskey for failure to act upon evidence of player perfidy quietly collected by his private detectives, and for trying to keep a pennant-winning team intact, instead.

In these accounts of the Black Sox affair, Comiskey is aided and abetted by Alfred S. Austrian, legal counsel for the White Sox corporation. Via the powers of artistic invention which pervade his 1963 book Eight Men Out,1 Asinof presents vivid scenes of Austrian’s scheming. But his portrayal of the attorney tends toward the schizophrenic. First, Asinof depicts Austrian as a Black Sox nemesis, wheedling confessions of fix complicity out of cowed, uncounseled ballplayers, and then immediately handing these unfortunates over to the government for criminal prosecution. Pages later, however, Austrian is operating behind the scenes to thwart the prosecution that he has just set in motion, teaming with Arnold Rothstein to orchestrate the disappearance of crucial documentary evidence, and secretly arranging for the accused players to be represented by the cream of the Chicago criminal defense bar.

Not to be outdone in the fantasy department, Sayles embellishes his 1988 film version of Eight Men Out with make-believe of its own.2 Here, the erudite and patrician Austrian is presented as a glib shyster, smooth-talking innocent Buck Weaver out of retaining his own lawyer, and devising the remain-silent strategy that the Black Sox will deploy at trial. While Carney knows better than to accept the fabricated events of the Asinof book and Sayles movie at face value, his 2006 examination of then-available scandal evidence also places Austrian in the dock.3 But the judgment Carney strikes on Austrian is speculative, largely premised on guesswork about Comiskey-Austrian interaction,4 and likely colored by the peculiar Carney notion that the fix cover-up was an offense graver than the corruption of the Series itself (which is sort of like thinking concealment of a murder victim’s body is a crime worse than the killing).

This profile will attempt to extricate Alfred Austrian from the nonsense concocted by Eliot Asinof and John Sayles, and the postulates of Gene Carney, and to present a portrait of Austrian grounded in the historical record. It underscores that Austrian was one of Chicago’s most distinguished attorneys, with a roster of high-profile clients that kept his name in newsprint for almost 40 years. His services to Comiskey, moreover, far exceeded his role in the Black Sox affair. Austrian’s tenure as corporate counsel for the White Sox lasted more than three decades, and included a lengthy stint as a club vice president as well. He also served as counsel to the Chicago Cubs, and personal attorney for Cubs boss William Wrigley. In addition, Austrian was likely the draftsman of the Lasker Plan, the controversial initiative to restructure the governance of major-league baseball introduced during the waning years of the National Commission. The eruption of the Black Sox scandal shelved the Lasker Plan, with club owners opting instead for the appointment of an all-powerful baseball commissioner. Still, Alfred Austrian played a significant, mostly behind-the-scenes part in the baseball affairs of his time — even though he was not a baseball fan and had little nonclient interest in the game.

Alfred Solomon Austrian was born in Chicago on June 15, 1870, the second of five children born to Solomon Austrian (1836-1889), a recent Jewish immigrant from Bavaria, and his Mississippi-born wife, the former Julia Rebecca Mann (1848-1933).5 Shortly after Alfred’s birth, the Austrian family relocated to Cleveland, where Rebecca’s kin operated a large wool mill and ran a thriving clothing wholesale business. In short order, Solomon rose to name partner in Mann, Austrian & Company (a firm that manufactured textiles and clothing), allowing him to raise his children in comfort. While in Cleveland, Alfred attended local schools; upon high-school graduation, he matriculated to Harvard University. While there, according to Black Sox author Charles Fountain, Austrian played third base for his class team.6 If this is so, Austrian soon lost interest in the game — for during the many years that he served as legal counsel for the White Sox and the Cubs, Austrian rarely, if ever, attended a ballgame.7 Aside from family, Austrian’s interests were scholarly: savoring classical literary verse and collecting original book manuscripts and rare first editions.8

Shortly before his death in late 1889, Solomon Austrian returned the family to Chicago. That is where Alfred began his working life upon receiving his A.B. degree from Harvard in June 1891. Although a lifelong scholar, Alfred Austrian did not attend law school. Rather, he prepared for entry into the legal profession by clerking and reading law at the offices of the eminent Chicago law firm Kraus, Mayer, and Stein. Austrian was admitted to the Illinois bar in 1893, and quickly became a courthouse luminary. His gifts included formidable presence (a shade under 6 feet tall, lean, and impeccably tailored), a first-class intellect, and a quick, often acerbic, tongue. In time, Austrian also became a master of legal precedent and statutory construction, and a skillful out-of-court negotiator. All the while, Austrian benefited from the guidance and friendship of senior firm partner Levy Mayer, a powerhouse attorney with prominent clients and a close connection to Chicago’s Democratic Party.

In May 1895 young attorney Austrian was in the news as counsel for a consortium of whiskey distilleries, exchanging public insults with the ousted president of the concern.9 Less than two months later, he was identified as one of three incorporators of a reconstituted “Whisky Trust,” a venture designed to corner the country’s manufacture and distribution of bourbon and rye.10 Other Austrian clients included Chicago saloonkeepers, jewelers, theater owners, and politicians. Nor did he neglect social life. He was active in various civic and fraternal organizations, and in October 1901, Austrian took a bride, marrying 22-year-old Mamie Rothschild in a society wedding at Chicago’s Hotel Metropole. The birth of daughter Margaret in 1904 would complete Austrian’s small, exceptionally tight-knit family.

While Alfred Austrian was making a name for himself in Chicago legal circles, Charles Comiskey was scouting out a new home for his Western League baseball club, the St. Paul Saints. In 1900 Comiskey’s relocation of the club to Chicago spearheaded the efforts of league President Ban Johnson to upgrade the WL from a regional circuit to a national one, with its major-league aspirations reflected in Johnson’s renaming of the circuit the American League for the 1900 season. The circumstances that brought club owner Comiskey and attorney Austrian together have not been discovered, but politics may have figured in. Comiskey, while not politically active himself, was the son of a local Democratic politician, one-time city alderman Honest John Comiskey. Austrian, meanwhile, regularly represented Chicago Democrats. Whatever its origins, the Comiskey-Austrian relationship dates from the 1900 incorporation of the American League Base Ball Club of Chicago, or shortly thereafter.11 Austrian was inarguably White Sox corporation counsel by July 1903, appearing in court to obtain a court order restraining star shortstop George Davis from jumping the club to play for the New York Giants.12 Once the Davis kerfuffle was resolved, however, Austrian’s name disappeared from the sports pages for almost 15 years.

But that is not to say that Alfred Austrian became invisible. To the contrary, his fortunes continued to rise with well-paying clients and newsworthy cases burnishing a growing reputation as one of Chicago’s ablest lawyers. In fact, only months after Austrian got George Davis safely back inside the White Sox fold, he took up perhaps the highest-profile assignment of his long career: that of co-defense counsel in the Iroquois Theatre fire case.

On the afternoon of December 30, 1903, Chicago’s newly opened Iroquois Theatre was packed well beyond its 1,602 seating capacity for a matinee performance of the musical Mr. Bluebeard. During the second act, a spark from an arc light set a muslin curtain ablaze. Within minutes, the theatre became a raging inferno in which some 600 perished, many of them children.13 Public outrage led to charges of criminal neglect and involuntary manslaughter being leveled against theater manager Will Davis. Retained to defend Davis was Levy Mayer, assisted by firm associate Austrian. Whether a reflection of devotion to his mentor Mayer, professional ambition, or cold-bloodedness, Austrian was not deterred from defending Davis by the toll the tragedy had taken within his own clan. Among the fire’s victims was cousin Joseph Austrian, a 17-year-old Yale undergraduate home for the holidays. After legal maneuvers kept the proceedings at bay for three years, Mayer and Austrian persuaded the trial judge to dismiss the charges against Davis on highly technical grounds, an outcome deplored by the public but one that only increased Austrian’s professional stock.

While the proceedings in the Iroquois Theatre case plodded on, Austrian was elevated to full partnership in the firm, now called Mayer, Meyer, Austrian, and Platt. During the ensuing decade, the Austrian stable of prominent clients expanded to include the Chicago Tribune, chewing-gum magnate William Wrigley, the Chicago sanitary committee, a Kentucky racetrack, the Cook County Democratic Committee, and advertising pioneer Albert D. Lasker. And it was the connection to client Lasker that returned the Austrian name to newspaper sports pages.

In January 1917, cash-strapped Chicago Cubs owner Charles Weeghman offered the wealthy Lasker a significant stake in franchise stock. Among Lasker’s purchase conditions agreed to by Weeghman was the Cubs’ retaining of Lasker lawyer Alfred Austrian as franchise corporate counsel.14 Lasker also maneuvered William Wrigley onto the Cubs board of directors. The following year, the two bought Weeghman out and assumed joint stewardship of the club. Meanwhile, another Austrian client, Chicago White Sox owner Charles Comiskey, had grown estranged from one-time friend Ban Johnson, and joined the new owners of the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox in public remonstrance against Johnson’s leadership of the American League.

Tensions came to a boil in mid-September 1919 when an insurrection-minded AL board of directors authorized a probe of Johnson’s expenditures. The inquiry was to be conducted by White Sox counsel Alfred Austrian.15

While the board awaited Austrian’s report, the infamous 1919 World Series — which Austrian did not attend — was played by Comiskey’s White Sox and the Cincinnati Reds, and won in eight games by the National League champions. Report that members of his team had agreed to dump the Series in return for a gamblers’ payoff reached Comiskey by the end of Game One, if not before. Yet, he did nothing visible in the immediate aftermath of the White Sox defeat. Instead, Comiskey directed manager Kid Gleason and front-office functionary Norris O’Neill to make discreet inquiries into fix rumors emanating from St. Louis.16 Comiskey was disturbed by the scuttlebutt that Gleason and Norris brought back, but publicly dismissed insinuations about the integrity of White Sox play, offering a $10,000 reward for credible information about Series wrongdoing by his players.

Taking up the reward offer were East St. Louis theater owner-gambler Harry Redmon and St. Louis pool hall operator-bookmaker Joe Pesch, who journeyed together to Chicago in late December. During a face-to-face meeting with Comiskey conducted in the Austrian law office, the two men related what they knew about Series corruption, including a Sherman Hotel meeting in Chicago organized by St. Louis gamblers Carl Zork and Ben Franklin to revive the fix after the corrupted players went off-script and won Game Three. Word of the Austrian office parley promptly leaked to the press, but White Sox club secretary Harry Grabiner downplayed the encounter, declaring that Redmon and Pesch “could give no direct evidence or any new information concerning the alleged [Series] scandal.”17 Happily for White Sox brass, Grabiner’s statement was accepted at face value by the sports press and public, taking the pressure to act off — at least for the time being.

The extent to which Comiskey’s post-Series conduct was influenced by club counsel Austrian is unknowable, but Comiskey biographer Tim Hornbaker asserts that the Old Roman, ailing and distraught, left management of the simmering scandal mostly in the hands of Austrian and Grabiner.18 And increased Austrian involvement in club affairs is undeniable, embodied in his designation as a Chicago White Sox vice president (while retaining his position as corporation counsel) in club reports filed in early 1920. It was Austrian, for example, who quietly retained the J.R. Hunter Detective Agency to shadow suspected White Sox players and prowl around for evidence of fix payoff spoils. But the reports submitted to Austrian by detectives were pretty much a dud.19 Holding the view that unsubstantiated allegations of player corruption did not justify retributive action by the club — or so Comiskey testified during post-scandal civil litigation in 1924 — Austrian recommended the new contracts, with handsome salary increases, extended to suspected fix participants Joe Jackson, Lefty Williams, Happy Felsch, and Swede Risberg during the offseason. However self-serving and duplicitous the Comiskey/Austrian maneuvers appear today, as a strategy they worked, at least temporarily. Series corruption rumors died out, and the throngs attending Comiskey Park to watch the White Sox battle the Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees for the 1920 AL pennant shattered club attendance records.

The scandal dam cracked in September when a Cook County (Chicago) grand jury was empaneled to investigate allegations that a recent game between the Cubs and Phillies had been fixed by gamblers. Itching for revenge against insurrectionist Charles Comiskey, AL President Johnson then prevailed upon his longtime acquaintance Judge Charles McDonald, the jurist presiding over the grand jury, to widen the panel’s probe to include inquiry into the integrity of the 1919 World Series. Unseemly revelations about baseball corruption presented to the grand jury quickly found their way into newsprint, but concrete evidence of 1919 World Series corruption was sparse. That abruptly changed, however, when fix insider Billy Maharg went public with claims that grand-jury targets like Eddie Cicotte, Joe Jackson, and Lefty Williams had dumped Games One, Two, and Eight in return for a gamblers payoff.20

Austrian immediately realized that club boss Comiskey had to be placed on the right side of now-cascading allegations of Series corruption and acted with dispatch. Summoned to the Austrian office on the morning of September 28, a stressed-out and seemingly remorseful Cicotte quickly broke down under questioning by Austrian, admitting his complicity in the Series fix and naming seven teammates as co-conspirators. Austrian thereupon marched Cicotte over to the Cook County Courthouse and delivered him to lead grand-jury prosecutor Hartley Replogle. Decades later, Eight Men Out author Eliot Asinof would maintain that Austrian was the one who induced Cicotte to sign a pre-testimony waiver of immunity from prosecution, but this claim is belied by the record. The waiver was presented to Cicotte within the grand-jury room by Replogle and signed by Cicotte before the grand jurors.21 Not as easily refuted is Asinof’s charge that Austrian’s conduct toward the White Sox players was adversarial and betrayed a conflict of interest. Strictly speaking, the conflict charge is unfounded, as nothing in the canons of professional ethics conferred upon Austrian any duty to individual White Sox players. His professional obligation was to safeguard the best interests of his client: Charles Comiskey and his corporate alter ego, the White Sox corporation.22 That said, some modern Black Sox commentators (but not the writer) deem Austrian’s procurement of the player confessions to be morally indefensible, if not ethically so.

As scandal events rapidly unfolded in late September 1920, nothing suggests that Austrian devoted attention to parsing modern-day ethical questions about conflicts of interest. Rather, he continued to focus on protecting Comiskey and the ballclub. To that end, Joe Jackson (and thereafter Lefty Williams) was summoned to Austrian’s office, admitted Series fix complicity under questioning by Austrian,23 and then was delivered to prosecutors to repeat admissions of fix guilt to the grand jurors. On September 29 the eight White Sox players reportedly indicted by the grand jury were immediately placed on suspension by Comiskey pending the disposition of any charges officially preferred against them. A day later, Austrian rescued those charges from being undone by lame-duck Cook County State’s Attorney Maclay Hoyne, who publicly questioned the validity of grand-jury investigation of what he deemed to be non-indictable offenses.24 A widely published Austrian tutorial on the applicability of conspiracy law and other Illinois felony statutes embarrassed Hoyne,25 and he quickly backed off. There would be no further interference by Hoyne with the grand jury’s work.

In the short term, Austrian’s strategy of preemptive action served Comiskey well, with press commentary portraying the club boss as selflessly sacrificing his own interests in the effort to purge the game of corruption. And while his press notices were still good, Comiskey struck back at Ban Johnson. He threw his support behind Albert Lasker’s plan to reconstitute the National Commission, the three-member governing body of Organized Baseball largely perceived as under Johnson’s thumb, filling its posts with new members unconnected to the game’s establishment.26 Although he had no great personal interest in baseball, business formation and corporate restructuring were right in Alfred Austrian’s professional wheelhouse, and he was widely reputed to be the draftsman of the Lasker Plan. Comiskey and his allies then doubled down, threatening to transfer the White Sox, Yankees, and Red Sox to the National League if the Lasker Plan was not adopted, their secession warning buttressed by an Austrian legal opinion that player contracts were the exclusive property of the players’ respective clubs, not the American League. The teams, not the AL, controlled where the players played.27 For the time being, however, further hostilities were deferred pending the outcome of the criminal trial of the Black Sox.

Despite his pivotal role in procuring the confession evidence, Austrian was only a minor witness at the July 1921 Black Sox proceedings. He did not testify about the out-of-court admissions of fix complicity made in his office by Eddie Cicotte, Joe Jackson, and Lefty Williams. Nor was he called as a witness during the midtrial hearing on the admissibility of the Cicotte, Jackson, and Williams grand-jury testimony. Austrian only appeared in court briefly as a prosecution rebuttal witness, denying that he had ever called gambler-informant Harry Redmon a blackmailer or otherwise denigrated Redmon.28 But Austrian was hardly idle. At the time the Black Sox were being tried and ultimately acquitted, Austrian was in court battling attorneys for Peggy Hopkins Joyce, a photogenic gold-digger and actress wannabe whose serial acquisition and discard of millionaire husbands had made her a tabloid sensation. In the end, Austrian was able to procure the divorce decree sought by lumber baron W. Stanley Joyce, while Peggy obtained an alimony settlement sufficient to tide her over until another wealthy husband could be snared.29

In the aftermath of the Black Sox criminal trial, Austrian coordinated the White Sox defense against the civil suits instituted by Joe Jackson and several other banished White Sox players. Of critical importance in the Jackson case, the only one of these suits that ever went to trial, Austrian obtained the grand-jury transcript of Jackson’s testimony from disappointed Cook County prosecutors only too happy to oblige. Devastating use of that transcript on cross-examination of Jackson led to vacation of the monetary judgment awarded him by a Milwaukee jury, and a perjury citation being slapped on Jackson by the trial judge.30 Called as a defense witness late in the trial, Austrian recounted the events that attended the statements given in his office by Cicotte, Jackson, and Williams; outlined his dealing with Arnold Rothstein and Rothstein attorney Hyman Turchin prior to Rothstein’s grand-jury appearance; and explained the basis for the salary increases given players suspected of fix participation. According to Austrian, he and club owner Comiskey lacked the concrete proof of fix complicity that would only emerge later and declined to punish the players based solely on suspicion and then-unsubstantiated allegations.31

Although White Sox vice president Austrian and/or club secretary Harry Grabiner sometimes attended club owners’ meetings in place of an ailing Comiskey,32 the Black Sox-connected litigation concluded Austrian’s baseball-related court appearances. But he did institute a $50,000 libel suit on behalf of client William Wrigley after a weekly magazine called Tolerance accused the Cubs boss of being a member of the Ku Klux Klan.33 Austrian also represented meat-packing giant Armour & Company in high-stakes proceedings conducted before the US Department of Agriculture. And there were the constant legal difficulties of Chicago politicians to keep Austrian busy. In his precious spare time, Austrian puttered around posh Lake Shore Country Club. In 1929, a nationally published AP wire story regaled readers with the improbable tale that Austrian, for years a high-handicap hacker who rarely broke 100, had whittled his score down into the 70s by taking a year’s worth of expensive lessons from the Lake Shore golf pro. The objective of the reported $10,000 that Austrian paid for his lessons was “to win a $5 bet” with cronies.34

Sadly, Austrian would have little time to enjoy his new-found golfing prowess. In September 1930 he underwent surgery of an undisclosed nature, and was thereafter prescribed extended rest as post-operative treatment.35 He never fully recovered and spent most of his final months confined to bed. Alfred Solomon Austrian died in his Chicago home from a gastrointestinal malady (probably stomach cancer) on January 26, 1932. He was 61. During funeral services at Rosehill Cemetery attended by Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak and a host of other dignitaries, Rabbi Solomon Freehof eulogized Austrian as “a joyous warrior, a leader in civic affairs, and an intellectual force in the community.”36

Postscript: Although hardly beyond criticism, Alfred Austrian led a life of distinction. But with those having living memory of Austrian’s accomplishments now long gone, what lingers in today’s consciousness are the unflattering decades-after-the-fact Austrian portrayals of Eight Men Out novelist Eliot Asinof and filmmaker John Sayles. To this, add The Fix, a recently debuted Black Sox-themed opera that casts Shoeless Joe Jackson as tragic hero and White Sox counsel Austrian (not club owner Comiskey) as the villainous heavy of the piece.37 Cruel, indeed, is the fate that supplants an estimable true life story with the caricatures of modern pop culture.



This biography is adapted from an article published in the June 2019 issue of the SABR Black Sox Scandal Research Committee newsletter. It was reviewed by Rory Costello and Len Levin and examined for accuracy by SABR’s fact-checking team.



The sources of information for this bio are set forth in the Notes.



1 The work’s full title is Eight Men Out: The Black Sox and the 1919 World Series. The book was published in New York by Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, and originally released in hardcover in 1963.

2 The movie version Eight Men Out was released by Orion Pictures in 1988.

3 See Gene Carney, Burying the Black Sox: How Baseball’s Coverup of the Fix of the 1919 World Series Almost Succeeded (Dulles, Virginia: Potomac Books, 2006).

4 Much of the Comiskey-Austrian relationship was shrouded by the attorney-client privilege.

5 Alfred’s siblings were Bertha (born 1868), twins Delia and Celia (1874), and Harvey (1879).

6 According to Charles Fountain in The Betrayal: The 1919 World Series and the Birth of Modern Baseball (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016), 124.

7 According to author Harvey Frommer, “Alfred Austrian never read the sports pages, cared very little for baseball, and looked at the [White Sox and Cubs] teams he represented merely as corporate clients.” Frommer, Shoeless Joe Jackson and Ragtime Baseball (Dallas: Taylor Publishing Co., 1992), 137. As of 1924, it was reported that Austrian had attended exactly one major-league baseball game in his entire life. See the Milwaukee Sentinel, February 8, 1924.

8 As noted in the Austrian obituaries published in the Chicago Tribune and New York Times, January 27, 1932. His library of several thousand volumes included first editions of Milton, Yeats, and Conrad. See “Library of Rare Volumes Left by A.S. Austrian,” Chicago Tribune, September 2, 1932.

9 See “Greenhut Squelched Again,” Chicago Inter-Ocean; “Some Hot Word,” Cleveland Plain Dealer; and “Filed a New Suit,” Omaha World Herald, all published May 9, 1895.

10 See “Whisky Trust Takes New Name,” Chicago Inter-Ocean, and “Rectified Budge: The Old Whisky Trust Is Re-Incorporated, “Grand Forks (North Dakota) Herald, both published July 2, 1895.  

11 The club was incorporated under the laws of the State of Wisconsin on March 5, 1900, per Tim Hornbaker, Turning the Black Sox White: The Misunderstood Legacy of Charles A. Comiskey (New York: Sports Publishing, 2014), 132, n8.  

12 As reported in “Davis Is Enjoined; Is He in Hiding?” Chicago Tribune, July 4, 1903.

13 To this day, the Iroquois Theatre tragedy remains the deadliest single fire in American history.

14 Per Jeffrey Cruickshank and Arthur W. Schultz, The Man Who Sold America: The Amazing (but True!) Story of Albert D. Lasker and the Creation of the Advertising Century (Boston: Harvard Business Review Press, 2010), 159.

15 See “Directors to Probe Rule of Ban Johnson,” Bridgeport (Connecticut) Evening Farmer, and “Will Investigate Ban’s Activities,” Washington Times, both published September 17, 1919.

16 At his own expense, Chicago filmmaker and ardent White Sox fan Clyde Elliott accompanied Gleason and O’Neill on the St. Louis trip.

17 As per “Gamblers Unable to Prove Charges Made After Games for World Title,” Salt Lake City Telegram, December 30, 1919. See also, “Comiskey Calls Bribery Bluff,” Chattanooga News, and “$10,000 Bribe Offer of Comiskey Stands,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, also December 30, 1919.

18 Hornbaker, 288-289.

19 For more detail, see Gene Carney, “Comiskey’s Detectives,” SABR Baseball Research Journal, Vol. 38, No. 2, Fall 2009.

20 The Maharg revelations were published in the Philadelphia North American on September 27, 1920, and republished in newspapers nationwide the following day.

21 The transcript of Eddie Cicotte’s grand-jury testimony has not survived intact, but parts of it were embedded in a deposition subsequently given by Cicotte in connection with a civil suit against the White Sox instituted by Joe Jackson. The record, furthermore, inarguably documents that Replogle (not Austrian) elicited the waivers of Jackson and Williams. See transcript of Jackson grand-jury testimony at JGJ1-5 to 22. For Williams, see WGJ23-10 to WGJ24-8.

22 By 1903 Comiskey had bought out the minority shareholders in the White Sox corporation. From then on, Comiskey would exercise complete and unilateral control of the franchise until his death in October 1931.

23 The extent to which Jackson revealed his fix complicity in Austrian’s office is unclear. The record establishes only that the telephone calls Jackson made to Judge McDonald to arrange his appearance before the grand jury were placed from the office. Once in chambers, Jackson admitted his involvement in the fix to Judge McDonald. He thereafter repeated those admissions under oath before the grand jury.

24 Hoyne had lost his bid for renomination to the State’s Attorney’s post in the October 1920 Democratic Party primary, and left the office in a huff to vacation out the remainder of his term in New York City.

25 See e.g., “Baseball Probe Goes to Grand Jury,” Kansas City Star, and “No Loophole for Indicted,” Seattle Star, September 30, 1920, and “Baseball Inquiry Will Go Through to End, Says Judge,” New York Tribune, October 1, 1920. Judge McDonald and grand-jury foreman Henry Brigham also publicly rebuffed Hoyne, and resolved to continue the proceedings.

26 As reported in “League Magnates Favor Lasker Tribunal Plan,” Omaha World Herald; “Baseball Magnates Talk Over Reorganization Plan,” Philadelphia Inquirer, October 6, 1920, and elsewhere.

27 See “Owners Prepare for Bitter Legal Battle,” Evansville (Indiana) Courier, and “AL Hold on Men Denied,” The Oregonian (Portland), November 10, 1920.

28 See “Confessions of Ball Players Go to Jury,” The Sporting News, July 28, 1921.

29 See “Joyce Wins; To Pay Peggy,” Los Angeles Times, November 21, 1921.

30 For more detail on the Jackson perjury citation and the civil proceedings from which it emanated, see William F. Lamb, Black Sox in the Courtroom: The Grand Jury, Criminal Trial, and Civil Litigation (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 2013), 149-198. The scene in Eight Men Out where the Jackson grand-jury transcript mysteriously emerges from the briefcase of White Sox defense attorney George Hudnall is just one of the many Asinof fabrications that hamper enjoyment of his book.

31 See generally, Transcript of Jackson civil trial, 889-958; 1028-1035. See also, “Lawyer Says Jackson Admitted Part in Plot,” Milwaukee Journal, February 6, 1924.

32 See e.g., “American and National League Club Owners Assembled in New York,” The Sporting News, December 19, 1929. Published with the article is a photograph showing Austrian and Grabiner among AL magnates.

33 See “Chewing Gum Man Files Suit Against Anti-Klan Weekly,” Baton Rouge State-Times, February 3, 1923, and “Wrigley Sues Anti-Klan,” Rockford (Illinois) Republic, February 6, 1923. The accusation was untrue, and the institution of the Wrigley lawsuit led to the publication’s closing shortly thereafter.

34 See e.g., “It Costs $10,000 to Win $5 Bet,” Benton Harbor (Michigan) News-Palladium, June 22, 1929, and “Lawyer Pays $10,000 to Pro Who Helps Him Break 80,” Danville (West Virginia) Bee, July 21, 1929.

35 “A.S. Austrian in Hospital; Recovering after Surgery,” Chicago Tribune, September 27, 1930.

36 “Leaders of Bar and Business Honor Austrian,” Chicago Tribune, January 28, 1932.

37 A plot summary of the historically maladroit opera is provided in Dan Levitt’s review published in the SABR Deadball Era Committee newsletter, The Inside Game, Vol. XIX, No. 3, June 2019.

Full Name

Alfred Solomon Austrian


June 15, 1870 at Chicago, IL (US)


January 26, 1932 at Chicago, IL (US)

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