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Best of Howard Schwartz

Gaming Guru

 

Black Sox Scandal, Roman's Dosage Work, Renzey's BJ "Bluebook" Update Arrival

14 May 2003

No one in baseball -- player, owner or fan -- will ever be allowed to forget the 1919 Black Sox Scandal, where games were fixed, bookmakers benefited from inside information and the National Pastime suffered its greatest defeat. Much is still missing from the great trial -- evidence and transcripts disappeared, whether by accident or design is unclear but they disappeared nonetheless. The subject of the scandal remains a fascinating study even today, partially because of fears it will happen again (an ulikely scenario knowing today's inflated salaries, video replays and knowledge of big line moves by wise guys difficult to hide) and partially because of the audacity of the entire event.

Eliot Asinof's classic 1963 work, "Eight Men Out" -- later the movie by the same title -- covered much of the territory, but questions remain. Three books, "Shoeless: The Life and Times of Joe Jackson" by David Fleitz (314 pages, paperbound, $29.95); "Hal Chase: The Defiant Life and Turbulent Times of Baseball's Biggest Crook" by Martin Kohout (339 pages, paperbound,$29.95) and "Saying It's So: A Cultural History of the Black Sox Scandal" by Daniel Nathan (285 pages, hardbound, $39.95) cover the subject from three different perspectives -- two from a player's standpoint, the third addressing the subject from a cultural history and social reality (including how the print and electronic media have perceived the event for the past 80 years).

For those researching the subject anew, the three works contain a treasure trove of material, back notes and bibliographical references so they become a tremendous time-saver.

Questions arose and still exist about Jackson's involvement in the scandal. Did he participate willingly or was his lack of education a detriment? Was his confession coerced? Should he be allowed into the Baseball Hall of Fame? (He was considered one of the game's greatest natural hitters.) Could a good detective help absolve him of all blame? The "Shoeless" book may help provide some answers.

Hal Chase, one of the best first basemen ever to play the game, bribed players, bet against his own team and somehow escaped punishment. His career ended in 1919. Even those associated with him saw their careers shortened.

What was it like playing in the first two decades of the 20th Century, with, by today's standards, low-paid players, non-manicured fields, miserable equipment and tough traveling? How did Chase figure in the Black Sox Scandal? Was it all about money or getting back at tight-fisted owners? When Ty Cobb's salary went from $12,000 a year to $20,000, what was the impact?

The book is a fascinating study of what it was like in baseball's infancy, as it struggled to attract fans and during the earliest days of great like Babe Ruth and the last years of Cobb.

"Saying It's So" looks at movies about the game, especially those involving the fix scandal, such as "Eight Men Out," "The Natural" and "Field of Dreams," and the novels that preceded the film versions. What do historians say about the scandal, how did it affect America's psyche and how did the nation changed in its values? The hints that Pete Rose not only bet on baseball, but against his own team, is referenced, and how it again brought back memories of a bad time in the Great Game.

Nathan presents a super book for anyone matching the changing America and its parallel with how the game of baseball has evolved over the generations.

Steven Roman's research on "Dosage: Pedigree & Performance" is now in a wonderful hardbound (203 pages, $40). "Dosage" is explained as a "Thoroughbred pedigree classification systems for owners, breeders and handicappers that expresses the elements of speed and stamina a horse may inherit from several key sires (or chefs-de-race, in its pedigree). These sires are classified in five aptitudinal groups: Brilliant, Intermediate, Classic, Solid and Professional..." They reflect the qualities the sires pass along to their offspring, including brilliant speed or plodding stamina, which may help predict which will be a sprinter or stayer, late developer or grass specialist.

Roman's book is one of the greatest studies ever on how to create a Dosage Profile for any horse -- a listing of Dosage figures for hundreds of top class runners and comprehensive Dosage data based on almost 20,000 races.

Author James Quinn ("Handicapper's Condition Book"; "Figure Handicapping") has written the foreword to this landmark work. It should be in every serious handicapper's library.

Fred Renzey's "Blackjack Bluebook II" (217 pages, paperbound, $16) has 40 percent more material than his first edition. A dozen major chapters includes more than 100 pages for the beginner, including proper basic strategy, the rules, house edge and blackjack myths. His "Ace/10 Front Count," "KISS Card Counts" and the "Art and Science of Skillful Play" along with his "Mentor Count" make this one of the more fascinating new books worth having if you're serious about the game.

His "Comparative Performances of Blackjack Count Systems" -- which includes an examination of the Red 7, KO Count, Hi/Lo Count, Silver Fox System, High Opt II, Omega II, Zen Count, Revere Point Count, Unbalanced Zen, Wong Halves and Uston SS Count and an explanation of the True Count -- makes this book well worth having. Packed with charts, tables and analysis, it's a fresh, helpful book for beginner or advanced player.

Howard Schwartz
Howard Schwartz, the "librarian for gamblers," was the marketing director for Gambler's Book Club in Las Vegas, a position he held from 1979 to 2010, when he retired. Author of hundreds of articles on gambling, his weekly book reviews appear in numerous publications throughout the gaming industry.

Howard Schwartz Websites:

www.gamblersbook.com
Howard Schwartz
Howard Schwartz, the "librarian for gamblers," was the marketing director for Gambler's Book Club in Las Vegas, a position he held from 1979 to 2010, when he retired. Author of hundreds of articles on gambling, his weekly book reviews appear in numerous publications throughout the gaming industry.

Howard Schwartz Websites:

www.gamblersbook.com