Sean Deveney is one of the nation’s foremost sportswriters and holds a vote for the Baseball Hall of Fame each year.
Deveney, a graduate of Lynn English High School and prestigious Northwestern University, appeared as the guest speaker at the Lynn Museum on March 29, entertaining the audience with observations about the 1918 baseball season and the state of the country during that tumultuous period in history.
Deveney is regarded as an expert on that season, having done extensive research and authored, “The Original Curse: Did the Cubs Inspire the Black Sox by Throwing the 1918 World Series Against Babe Ruth’s Red Sox?”
Deveney clearly brought his ‘A’ game to the Lynn Museum, combining history with sports in his talk while eloquently painting a picture of what baseball was like at that time and the prevalence of gambling in the sport. Deveney said with the advent of World War I, all horse tracks in the country were shut down and gambling on baseball games exploded in popularity.
“You couldn’t go and gamble on racing,” said Deveney. They used a lot of those tracks to store weapons and munitions and stuff like that so that really did cause a spike in baseball gambling,” said Deveney.
One interesting item that Deveney revealed was that in Game 6 of the 1918 World Series, Chicago Cubs player Max Flack, one of the best defensive outfielders in the game, let in the winning run when the ball bounced off his glove.
“He’s [Flack] the only player, to this day, to be picked off twice in one World Series game,” said Deveney. “No other player in the history of the World Series has done that but old Max did it.”
It was during the question-and-answer period wth the audience that Deveney unleashed a fastball: he said that Pete Rose, who has been banned from baseball because of betting on the sport, should be admitted to the Hall of Fame.
“I didn’t think so before I started researching this, until I went back and saw how many that are in the Hall of Fame now who have ties to gambling,” said Deveney. “I think Shoeless Joe Jackson should be in there [the Hall of Fame] as well. There is sort of a double standard there in terms of guys who were involved in gambling but were great players and there’s a lot of them in the Hall of Fame.”
Addressing another question about Pete Rose from audience member Gerald Waldron, whose son, Jeff, played professional baseball, Deveney said, “I just think if the crime is gambling, if that’s the offense that gets you kept out, you have to go back and draw out a lot of other guys who are in the Hall of Fame. I know what you’re saying that the circumstances were different, but if you’re going to say that the crime is gambling, I think that if you reach a certain level of play and performance, and you’re guilty of gambling, like you’re going to still allow ‘X’ number of players in, then you’ve got to allow of them in. I would just be consistent with the crime.”
Following his talk, Deveney graciously signed autographs for audience members.