Buchanan: A cold case, not a closed case: the baseball obsessives correcting the record about the 1919 Black Sox Scandal

From Zach Buchanan at The Athletic on October 4, 2019, with mention of SABR members Jacob Pomrenke, Bill Lamb, Rick Huhn, Bruce Allardice, and others:

In a house in Scottsdale, Ariz., folded and sitting atop a mass of other papers inside a storage bin, is an obscure slice of baseball’s most infamous scandal.

Calling it a slice actually is generous. It is smaller than that – a sliver, as itsy-bitsy a crumb of a baseball artifact as could be imagined to exist. It is the death certificate of a long-dead baseball player’s long-dead wife, and there’s no reason for it to be sitting in storage in anyone’s home office. Yet there it is in Jacob Pomrenke’s.

The 37-year-old Arizona transplant is not related to Lyria Williams, but he knows just about everything there is to know about her. He knows the day she was born in 1889 and the day she died of heart failure in 1975. He knows she was the daughter of Mormon pioneers and that she spent the last few years of her life in a retirement community called Leisure World Seal Beach. He knows her remains rest in a separate location from her husband’s, a tidbit he finds intriguing. He has written about her on his blog in a post that is more than 4,000 words long.

None of that may be interesting to you, but it’s endlessly fascinating to Pomrenke. That’s because Lyria Williams was the wife of Claude “Lefty” Williams, one of the Chicago White Sox players who conspired to fix the 1919 World Series, and Pomrenke wants to know everything there is to know about that dark chapter in baseball history. The Black Sox Scandal is his obsession, and obsessions lead you down odd roads. Sometimes you wind up with a certified copy of a total stranger’s death certificate.

Read the full article here (subscription required): https://theathletic.com/1260436/2019/10/04/a-cold-case-not-a-closed-case-the-baseball-obsessives-correcting-the-record-about-the-1919-black-sox-scandal/

Originally published: October 4, 2019. Last Updated: October 4, 2019.