Cieradkowski: Jimmy O’Connell, the other side of a scandal

From SABR member Gary Cieradkowski at The Infinite Baseball Card Set on February 8, 2016:

Over the years I’ve been fortunate enough to hear from several of the players whose portraits and stories I’ve included on my website, and that continued after my book “The League of Outsider Baseball” came out in May. One of the most memorable letters I received from a relative of Jimmy O’Connell. He’s in the chapter entitled “The Bad Guys” due to his being thrown out of organized baseball for offering money to an opposing player to throw a game. Jimmy’s great-niece wrote to say how bittersweet it was to find her great-uncle Jim in a chapter with a title of “Bad Guys”. After telling me about how much she enjoyed the book she added this poignant passage: “So I’d like to put in a word for Jim O’Connell and let you know what a good guy he was. Devoted to his wife, my Aunt Esther, a loving uncle to my mom and her sister and madly in love with the game of baseball, long after it turned its back on him. “. 

Those words stuck with me ever since. These ballplayers I illustrate and write about had families who loved them. The letter made Jimmy O’Connell not just a name from old newspaper articles and box scores, but a very real person. I want to thank Jimmy’s relatives for taking the time to write this great piece. The story of Jimmy O’Connell and the 1924 pennant scandal is often told, but never to my knowledge has it been told from the family’s perspective. I’m both honored and humbled to be able to showcase this story here on my website. and without further delay, here the O’Connell family’s “guest author” post on the old ballplayer they called “Uncle Jim”…

Read the full article here:

Originally published: February 8, 2016. Last Updated: February 8, 2016.