In the third episode of season six, Drunk History gets drunk and talks about sports . . . which actually sounds a lot like every sporting event I’ve ever been to. Derek Waters shares duties this week with Katie Nolan, Carl Tart and Jon Gabrus, and Anais Fairweather in order to help us better know the history of America’s favorite (drunken) pastime.
First up is the Black Sox scandal, as told by Katie Nolan and Derek, who begins the episode with a soft but meaningful “god bless Josh Hartnett” after a drunken aside about the film Blackhawk Down. Members of the 1919 White Sox throw the World Series after offers of big money, a series of second thoughts, and a lethal threat against a player’s wife. After the loss, rumors spread and there is even a grand jury investigation. The 1919 White Sox were dubbed the “Black Sox” to shame them for cheating and the first Commisioner of Baseball, Kenisaw Mountain Landis, banned all players associated with the scandal.
In the second segment Carl Tart and Jon Gabrus discuss the first black player in Major League Baseball — aka NOT Jackie Robinson! We learn that Moses Fleetwood Walker was a player for a team in the AA league when that team was moved into the major league division in 1884 (BTW – Jackie Robinson wasn’t even born until 1919). Walker experiences extreme racism but does his best to endure, playing games against both coaches and players who felt he shouldn’t be allowed. Eventually Walker is banned and for sixty-three years, until Jackie Robinson moves to major league ball, African Americans are banned from the game. The moral of the story here is to research your heroes so that you know who came before them . . .and don’t be a shitty racist.
In the final segment, Anais Fairweather tells the REAL story of A League of Their Own. While the draft leaves fewer men to play America’s pastime, women are ready to step up to bat. Our old friend Kenisaw Mountain Landis returns to join forces with Philip K. Wrigley who pitches the idea of recently popular women’s softball. Scouts are sent around the country and sporty women are collected to play a rigorous schedule while looking like beauty queens in tiny dresses. Despite their obvious ball player status, the league is disbanded when men begin to return from war. Years go by and that’s pretty much the end of the story until one of the player’s sons tells the story in a documentary and hero Penny Marshall brings her directorial magic and the story to a modern audience.