Edward Victor Cicotte (June 19 1884 - May 5 1969) (pronounced Cy-cottie) was an American right-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball best known for his time with the Chicago White Sox. He was one of eight players expelled for life from professional baseball for his alleged participation in the Black Sox scandal in the 1919 World Series, in which the favored White Sox lost to the Cincinnati Reds in eight games.
Cicotte was a starting pitcher and a knuckleball specialist who won 208 games and lost 149 over the course of a 14-year career pitching for the Detroit Tigers, Boston Red Sox, and White Sox. At the time of his lifetime ban, he was considered one of the premier pitchers in the American League.
A Detroit native, Cicotte played baseball in Georgia in 1905, where he was a teammate of Ty Cobb. Both players were purchased by the Tigers, and Cicotte made his big-league debut on September 3, 1905. Pitching in three games for Detroit, Cicotte compiled a 1-1 record with a 3.50 ERA.
Cicotte didn't return to the major leagues again until 1908, when he resurfaced with the Red Sox. After he compiled a 41-48 record in a Boston uniform, the Red Sox sold him to the White Sox on July 22, 1912.
Cicotte celebrated a breakout year in 1913, going 18-12 on the season with an ERA of 1.58. He went on to lead the league in winning percentage in 1916. But his best year was 1917, when he won 28 games and led the league in wins, ERA (1.53), and innings pitched. On April 13 he threw a no hitter against the St. Louis Browns. That year, the White Sox went to the World Series, defeating the New York Giants 4 games to 2. Cicotte won Game 1, lost Game 3, and pitched six innings of relief in Game 5 for a no-decision.
Injuries reduced Cicotte to a 12-19 record in 1918, but in 1919, he rebounded to win 29 games and once again lead the league in wins, winning percentage, and innings pitched, as well as in complete games. His 1919 salary was $6,000, but he had a provision for a $10,000 bonus if he won 30 games. As the season drew to a close, owner Charles Comiskey ordered manager Kid Gleason to bench Cicotte, denying him a chance at a 30-win season and the bonus money. Some have speculated this was his motivation for participating in the fix.
In the 1919 World Series against the Reds, Cicotte pitched in three games, winning one but pitching ineffectively and losing the other two.
Cicotte was the first of the eight players to come forward, signing a confession and a waiver of immunity. Cicotte admitted to the grand jury in September, 1920 that he took a $10,000 bribe to "throw" the 1919 World Series. He later recanted this confession and was acquitted of all charges at trial by jury. Despite this, Cicotte and his alleged co-conspirators were subsequently banned for life from baseball by Kenesaw Mountain Landis, Major League Baseball's new commissioner, recently hired to restore the integrity of the game in the wake of the 1919 scandal.
His baseball career over, Cicotte returned to Detroit, where he worked for the Ford Motor Company and other miscellaneous jobs until his death in Detroit at age 84. Cicotte (Cy-Cottie) is generally rated as one of baseball's 500 greatest players.
In the 1988 film Eight Men Out, about the Black Sox scandal, Cicotte is portrayed by actor David Strathairn. In that film, the name is incorrectly pronounced as "See-cott" probably stemming from the pronunciation used by Cicotte's (Cy-cottie)'s pitching grand-nephew. The Society for American Baseball Research has confirmed the "Cy-cottie" pronunciation aliong with all other knowledgeable baseball researchers. Cicotte had a grand-nephew who later pitched briefly in the majors (including 1957 with the Yankees), who pronounced his name (See-cott) to distance himself from the Black Sox scandal.