The 1919 Chicago White Sox were a talented team that was the odds-on favorite to win the World Series. But the odds didn't take into account what was going on behind the scenes. Many of the players were grossly underpaid and didn't trust owner Charles Comiskey, who repeatedly failed to deliver on bonuses and promises of increased compensation [source: Chicago Historical Society].
When a gambler agreed to pay a total of $100,000 to Sox players willing to hand the series to the rival Cincinnati Reds, the deal -- some players felt -- was too good to turn down. In a back-and-forth series that tested the mixed feelings of Sox players, the Reds ultimately won the championship. Eight members of the Sox were eventually acquitted by a grand jury of throwing the series when vital pieces of evidence disappeared.
In 1920, in an effort to save baseball from the public relations nightmare, a federal judge was named the sport's first commissioner. Kenesaw Mountain Landis didn't care about the grand jury's verdict. He banned the eight accused "Black Sox" from Major League Baseball for life [source: Chicago Historical Society].