Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Buck Weaver: Wronged Man Out. An Introduction.

"Don't bring up Buck Weaver

or how he looked the last time you saw him

begging a reporter six months out of high school

to clear his name so he could play again.

'I'll play for nothin, tell 'em! Just one season tell 'em!"

-Nelson Algren

George Daniel "Buck" Weaver is one of the most herald 3rd basemen of his time. Born in Pennsylvania to a poor family, he worked with the likes of "Kid" Gleason, Chicago White Sox manager, to become one of the best infielders of the early 1900's.

Buck Weaver has been called "the only 3rd basemen I refuse to bunt against" by Ty Cobb. Banned from baseball for life by Commissioner Kenesaw Landis, Buck was accused of having "guilty information" about the 1919 World Series fix by his teammates, the Chicago White Sox.

Despite being present at meetings in which 1st basemen, Chick Gandil, and other gamblers promised each player money to throw the 1919 World Series to the Reds, Buck Weaver refused to participate in it. He remained loyal to his love for the game. As Elliot Asinof states, Buck,"couldn't act accordingly when he put on the spikes."

He was acquitted of all legal wrong-doing during a trial in 1920, but was still banned from ball by the commissioner that following season. Of all the ballplayers who conspired to throw the series, only Buck Weaver maintained his innocence to the grave.

Even the likes of Shoeless Joe Jackson, who is often the "wrong man out" when portrayed by baseball fans, admitted to taking $5,000 and also purposely throwing the series.

Buck Weaver batted .324 during the 1919 World Series with 11 hits and never committed an error. As one Cinncinnati reporter, unaware of how Buck's teammates including starters Eddie Cicotte and "Lefty" Williams were purposely throwing the games wrote,

"Though they are hopeless and heartless, the White Sox have a hero. He is George Weaver, who plays and fights at third base. Day after day Weaver has done his work and smiled. In spite of the certain fate that closed about the hopes of the Sox, Weaver smiled and scrapped. One by one his mates gave up. Weaver continued to grin and fought harder….Weaver's smile never faded. His spirit never waned….The Reds have beaten the spirit out of the Sox all but Weaver. Buck's spirit is untouched. He was ready to die fighting. Buck is Chicago's one big hero; long may he fight and smile."-Ross Tenney, Cincinnati Post.

Buck Weaver has long embodied what it is to truly love the game of baseball. Growing up in the working class at the turn of the century, he was taught that snitching on your brothers and family was immoral and wrong. He refused to tell on his teammates- his brothers, but he also refused to turn his back on the one thing he truly loved. Weaver has been wrote about and praised from beginning to end of his career for his true love and passion for the sport. To deny him reinstatement to major league baseball is cruel.

In a day where steroids, selfishness, and large payrolls run baseball, we as fans miss out on watching men who got paid nothing play.They didn't play for a $26 million over 3 years with a one year extended option, but for the simple fact of putting on the spikes, picking up the glove, and playing for joy and love.

Despite the corruption in the game, and all the "sad" days in baseball, there are still glimpses of hope from these men who take the field every day. These boys grew up on stories of Babe Ruth, Christy Matthewson, Ty Cobb, Shoeless Joe Jackson, and sometimes, even Buck Weaver.

The previously mentioned list of men didn't play for much. There was no arbitration back then, no collective bargaining. If they wanted to play baseball they played where they were assigned. If they didn't want to play for that team they had no choice. It was the owner's way or the high way.

Buck Weaver spent the rest of his life petitioning to be reinstated into major league ball. Even in his old age he wanted nothing more than to put on a uniform and coach a semi-pro team. To no avail he was never reinstated, and passed away of a heart attack at the age of 65.

And this is where you, as fans come in. Most of you know me and my love for Weaver. I have hopes of working directly with the Chicago Baseball Museum and to help Buck Weaver become reinstated. I ask that you do something small by going to and signing the petition.

Though Buck Weaver may be dead, it is the dream of his family, and many fans that he will be reinstated into baseball one day. Unlike Pete Rose, his teammates on the 1919 team, and those who continued steroid use even after it became illegal in baseball, Buck did nothing illegal in the game. He didn't cheat himself, his team, his fans, or the game. He simply did not snitch. Turning the other way when you have information that there may be a fix in the World Series? That deserves punishment for sure. However Weaver has received his punishment. To take the words from his own mouth,"There are murderers who serve a sentence and then get out. I got life."

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