by Harold Friend
The Cardinals had staged one of the greatest miracles by overtaking the Giants to become 1934 National League champions, but National League president John Heydler addressed some dark thoughts. About one month after the regular season ended, Mr. Heydler disclosed how he kept all the games played by the contenders under close surveillance in order to avoid any scandal.
Suspicions About Observing the Reds
Nothing would have been publicized, but Mr. Heydler realized that there were suspicions that the Cincinnati Reds' performances had been under great scrutiny. The last place Reds dropped their last four games of the season to the Cardinals while the sixth place Brooklyn Dodgers took two vital games from the Giants, resulting in the Cards winning the flag by two games.
Mr. Heydler denied that the Reds had been checked more closely than any other team. "There is no basis for any suggestion that we had cast suspicious eyes at the performance of the Reds. I had reports immediately after every game participated in not only by New York and St. Louis, but by the contestants for fourth place. I had my confidential representatives watching not only what took place on the playing field but off the field."
Specifics Were Provided
1. What was the character of baseball played against New York and St. Louis by otherwise hopelessly beaten clubs?
2. Did they present their best lineups and a fair rotation of their pitchers?
3. Did they put forth their best efforts?
4. Were any decisions made that could possibly lead to a protested game or that could be construed as discriminating against either contesting club?
The National League Didn't Want a Repeat of the 1924 Scandal
It was explained that the league didn't want a repeat of the Dolan-O'Connell scandal of 1924. After the Giants won their fourth consecutive pennant, there were accusations that some Giants' players had offered Philadelphia Phillies' shortstop Henie Sand a bribe of $500 to "lay down" during the final games between the two teams.
The players involved were young outfielder Jimmy O'Connell, who claimed that he was put up to the dastardly deed by first base coach Cozy Dolan. O'Connell also claimed that Frankie Frisch, Ross Youngs, and George Kelly knew about the scheme.
Commissioner Landis Holds a Secret Meeting
Frisch, Youngs, and Kelly denied any involvement and insisted that it was only a joke, but Commissioner Landis was never in a humorous mood. He held secret meetings, after which it was announced that young Giants' outfielder Jimmy O'Connell and first base coach Cozy Dolan were banned from baseball for life. Frisch, Youngs, and Kelly, were exonerated of any wrong doing.
It is fascinating that players on a team clearly in command of the pennant race could be so insecure that they feel that need to bribe the opposition, but that merely once again confirms the similarities between life and baseball. There are no guarantees, and no lead is safe.
Mr. Heydler Had to Be Certain
Almost no one thought that the 1924 Giants would lose their final two games to the Phillies while second place Brooklyn would win two from Boston to tie for the pennant. but it was possible. It turned out that Boston beat Brooklyn, the Giants beat the Phillies without help from Henie Sand, and the Giants won the pennant, but Mr. Heydler, 10 years later, had to be certain that the Reds, Cardinals, Giants, and Dodgers played the game for all they were worth.
By The Associated Press.. (1934, November 1). HEYDLER UPHOLDS PLAYERS' INTEGRITY :Discloses Strict Surveillance of Critical Games in National League Pennant Race. ANSWER TO REDS' INQUIRY Circuit Head Denies Cincinnati Club Was Suspected While Losing Four to Cards.. New York Times (1857-Current file),27. Retrieved July 18, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 94577136).