Authors: David Pietrusza
Tags: #Urban, #New York (State), #Sociology, #Social Science, #True Crime, #20th Century, #Criminology, #New York (N.Y.), #New York, #General, #Criminals & Outlaws, #Criminals, #baseball, #Sports & Recreation, #Nineteen twenties, #Biography & Autobiography, #Crime, #Biography, #History
Also by DAVID PIETRUSZA
Teddy Ballgame: My Life in Pictures (with Ted Williams)
Judge and jury: The Life and Times of Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis
The Roaring Twenties
Total Baseball: The Official Encyclopedia of Major League Baseball (co-editor)
Baseball: The Biographical Encyclopedia (co-editor)
Lights On! The Wild Century-Long Saga of Night Baseball
Baseball’s Canadian American League
Minor Miracles: The Legend and Lure of Minor League Baseball
To Cathy Karp Who I look up to.
The Players in Our Drama-ix
CHAPTER I • “I’ve Been Shot” • 1
CHAPTER 2 • “Nobody Loves Me” • 15
CHAPTER 3 • “Everyone Gambled” • 23
CHAPTER 4 • “Why Not Get Married?” • 41
CHAPTER 5 • “I’ve Got Plans” • 52
CHAPTER 6 • “He’ll Crucify the Big Feller” • 66
CHAPTER 7 • “Let’s Go Looking for Some Action” • 92
CHAPTER 8 . “Take Any Price” • 104
CHAPTER 9 • “Chicken Feed” • 123
CHAPTER I0 • “I Never Take My Troubles to the Cops” • 136
CHAPTER 111 • “AM WIRING YOU TWENTY GRAND” • 147
CHAPTER I2 • “I Wasn’t In On It” • 169
CHAPTER 13 • “The Chic Thing to Have Good Whiskey” • 193
CHAPTER 14 • “The Man to See Was Arnold Rothstein” • 209
CHAPTER 15 • “I Can’t Trust a Drunk” • 219
CHAPTER 16 • “I Don’t Bet On … Boxing” • 232
CHAPTER 17 • “I’m Not a Gambler” • 244
CHAPTER 18 • “I Will Be Alone” • 268
CHAPTER 19 • “Will I Pull Through?” • 284
CHAPTER 20 • Coverup: “A Decenter, Kinder Man
I Never Knew” • 294
CHAPTER 21 • “Tell Me Who is Using My Money for Dope” • 316
CHAPTER 22 • Aftermath: “A Wonderful Box” • 330
CHAPTER 23 • Case Closed: “I Did It, You Know”’ 343
CHAPTER 24 • Epilogue • 357
Notes • 388
Bibliography • 450
Acknowledgments • 465
Index • 467
Debonair international con man. Multimilliondollar bond thief. Wandering husband of Fanny Brice. Arnold Rothstein’s admirer, partner, and fall guy.
Featherweight champion of the world. A.R.‘s gambling buddy and bodyguard-as well as his indiscreet henchman in fixing the 1919 World Series.
Wastrel heir to the YD’S licorice fortune. A.R.‘s front man at the Partridge Club, Manhattan’s poshest floating card game.
Crooked and brutal police vice squad chief. His downfall paves the way for Rothstein to begin his career as the great middleman between the machine, the mob, and the cops.
HENRY “KID” BECKER
The Kid conjured up the idea of fixing a World Series. Too bad he didn’t live to enjoy it.
AUGUST BELMONT 11.
Millionaire high-society sportsman. Erstwhile racetrack partner of Rothstein, but he eventually demanded A.R.‘s expulsion from New York’s tracks.
Broadway’s “Funny Lady” found husband Nicky Arnstein’s illegal schemes with A.R. no laughing matter, nor the collateral he demanded to provide bail for her incarcerated spouse.
New York’s most vicious labor-union racketeer got his start with A.R. He got the chair from District Attorney Tom Dewey.
A.R. fixed it for Burns and his partner Billy Maharg to take the fall if anything went wrong in fixing the 1919 World Series. It did.
A.R.‘s last attorney and the thief at his deathbed.
GEORGE M. COHAN
Broadway’s “Yankee Doodle Dandy” knew when to bet and when not to bet on a World Series.
The bestselling author (The Red Badge of Courage) who risked his reputation, his physical safety, and his friendship with Theodore Roosevelt to expose police corruption in 1890s New York.
America’s most fabled gambler-and Rothstein’s favorite pigeon.
Model, Broadway sensation, film star, William Randolph Hearst’s longtime mistress, and the target of Bill Fallon’s greatest courtroom scam.
He drifted in from California, tried to rob A.R. at gunpoint, made A.R. a fortune in horseracing tips, and departed just as mysteriously as he arrived.
JACK “THE MANASSA MAULER” DEMPSEY
Heavyweight champion of the world in the Golden Age of Sports. Did A.R. plot to cheat him of his crown?
Being New York’s shadiest police commissioner, didn’t stop Big Bill from becoming the first owner of the New York Yankees.
Strong-arm artist. Thief. Labor goon. Bootlegger. Speakeasy operator. A.R’s merciless (and seemingly bulletproof) bodyguard.
The attorney general’s alcoholic son on the Big Bankroll’s payroll.
The original dim-witted but brutal East Side hoodlum. When A.R. wanted a loan repaid, he used the thuggish Eastman to collect.
A.R.‘s partner in Saratoga and Long Island gambling houses; his underling in fixing a World Series.
BILL “THE GREAT MOUTHPIECE” FALLON
The Roaring 20s most flamboyant and successful criminaldefense attorney. Rothstein and Fallon did a lot of business together, but that didn’t keep the duo from profoundly despising one another.
The hotel chambermaid who knew too much. A spell in jail eventually made her forget much.
Manhattan’s premier investigative journalist made life uncomfortable for A.R.‘s cronies.
Powerful downtown Tammany district leader and Governor Al Smith’s mentor. Protector of the city’s crooked Wall Street firms. A.R.‘s go-to guy at Tammany.
EDWARD M. FULLER
Mastermind of Wall Street’s biggest con operation. Even A.R.‘s connections and Bill Fallon’s skills couldn’t keep this miscreant out of Sing Sing.
New York’s irascible reform mayor. He battled Tammany, took a bullet in the head, and did his best to “preserve outward order and decency. “
He managed boxing champions Gene Tunney and Benny Leonard and made sure he remained on Arnold Rothstein’s good side.
A.R. bankrolled Gordon ‘s bootlegging operations, but only if Waxey did it Arnold’s much more profitable way.
The controversial press lord who tried to break Tammany. Instead, he found his own private life on the front page.
An honest cop. He dared question why A.R. got away with shooting three other cops.
Tammany’s powerful and wealthy boss of West Harlem. He netted a fortune from Prohibition and the numbers racket and spent a good part of it covering up the facts of A.R.‘s slaying.
MAXIE “Boo Boo” HOFF
Philadelphia’s gangland boss who helped A.R. win $500,000 on the first Dempsey-Tunney fight.
MAYOR JAMES J. “RED MIKE” HYLAN
Jimmy Walker’s obtuse and Hearst-controlled predecessor at City Hall. He battled Rothstein, but to no avail.
Baseball’s greatest natural hitter. Joe pocketed A.R.‘s ten grand to throw the 1919 Fall Classic, then complained he didn’t get more. Say it ain’t so, Joe.
ALBERT “KILLER” JOHNSON
He thought Arnold would never go to the cops after he robbed A.R.‘s highstakes poker game. He guessed wrong.
BYRON “BAN” JOHNSON
The most powerful man in baseball thought he had a deal with the man who fixed the World Series. You can’t cheat an honest man.
Actress. Showgirl. Gold digger. Joyce augmented her income by steering rich suckers to A.R.‘s Times Square gambling house.
The murdered Follies showgirl. She was A.R.‘s tenant. Was she one of his drug runners?
FIORELLO “THE LITTLE FLOWER” LA GUARDIA
East Harlem’s crusading congressman. He hoped to win the mayoralty by exposing Tammany’s Rothstein connections.
AARON J. LEVY
Majority leader of the New York State Assembly. Wily defense attorney and fixer in the Rosenthal murder case. He graduated to the bench and to protecting A.R.-connected gambling clubs.
Gangsters, entertainers, newspaper people all made his Times Square restaurant their unofficial headquarters. But no more than did Arnold Rothstein.
The “World’s Richest Man.” Was Loewenstein also A.R.‘s partner in the world’s biggest drug ring?
A.R. picked this cheap little hoodlum off the streets and turned him into an elegant, rich hoodlum.
Rothstein recognized “Little Man “‘s talents and helped make him into the next Rothstein.
JOHN J. “THE LITTLE NAPOLEON” MCGRAW.
Baseball’s greatest manager. A.R.‘s partner in his popular Herald Square pool hall.
GEORGE “HUMP” MCMANUS.
The Times Square gambler indicted for A.R’s November 1928 murder. Did the big Irishman actually pull the trigger?
Small-time professional gambler. His apartment witnessed Broadway’s biggest and deadliest poker game.
The Times Square wit (“Be nice to people on the way up … you’ll meet the same people on the way down. “) who tried and failed to trim A.R.‘s ego.
Tammany Hall’s savviest, most powerful, and resilient boss. He relied on Rothstein to deal with Gotham’s emerging mob.
A.R.‘s last mistress. She thought they’d live happily-and luxuriously-ever after.
COL. LEVI P. NUTT
The federal drug czar with a secret to hide.
The swarthy West Coast gambler who took A.R. for $300,000 in a single card game, but never collected.
Inventor of the racing tip sheet. Pioneer stock swindler. Even he could learn a lot from Arnold Rothstein.
Boxing’s greatest promoter and a man who sensed the great Rothstein ‘s demise was just around the corner.
The filthy street urchin whom A.R. tried to befriend, but failed.
FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT
His skillful handling of the scandals that followed A.R.‘s murder helped lead FDR from the governor’s mansion to the White House.
HERMAN “BEANSY” ROSENTHAL
A fatally indiscreet Times Square gambler. Being Rothstein’s friend couldn’t save him from being rubbed out.
The rags-to-riches construction magnate whom even A.R. feared at the gambling table.
Arnold Rothstein’s upright, intensely religious, and longsuffering father.
King of Manhattan gamblers. The Big Bankroll. Criminal genius. Mastermind of the 1919 World Series. Moneylender. Drug kingpin. Bootlegging pioneer. Gambling house and casino operator. Fencer of millions in stolen jewels and bonds. Labor-union racketeer. Broadway angel. The ultimate political gobetween. Mentor to a whole generation of New York thugs, hoodlums, and felons.
BERTRAM “HARRY” ROTHSTEIN.
Arnold’s jealousy of his older brother helped propel him into rebellion and a life in the underworld.
Arnold Rothstein’s former showgirl wife. She faced the agony of with highstakes anxiety, lonely nights, murder plots-and her husband’s string of younger showgirl mistresses.
Fabled chronicler of Arnold Rothstein’s Broadway, author of Guys and Dolls. He shared whispers with A.R. just before Rothstein walked up Broadway to his violent end.
Night cashier at Lindy’s. He took the call that summoned A.R. to his death.
The patrician politician who brought down Rothstein’s pals in Tammany Hall.
Greed and booze cost Shea his share of Rothstein’s lucrative 46th Street gambling house.
ALFRED E. SMITH
New York governor. The first Catholic presidential candidate. Protege of A.R.‘s pal, Big Tom Foley, and sworn enemy of William Randolph Hearst.
Drug addict. Petty criminal. And one of A.R.‘s closest friends.
Highstakes gambler. Owner of the New York Giants. He depended on A.R. to protect his crooked Wall Street operations from the law.
Legendary journalist. Adviser to presidents-and best man at A.R.‘s wedding.
JOSEPH J. “SPORT” SULLIVAN
The Boston bookmaker who helped A.R. pay off the 1919 Black Sox.
A.R.‘s earliest patron. State senator. Congressman. Tammany boss of the Lower East Side. Theater and amusement-park baron. Protector of vice. Father of gun control-and accessory to murder.
CIRO “THE ARTICHOKE KING” TERRANOVA