Pat Anderson, niece who crusaded to lift ‘Black Sox’ ban on Buck Weaver, dies
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Pat Anderson, who crusaded unsuccessfully to get her “Uncle Buck” Weaver of the Chicago White Sox reinstated by Major League Baseball, has died almost a century after the “Black Sox” bribery scandal tarnished his legacy.
“She was the last person living who lived with him, knew him well,” said David J. Fletcher, who heads the petition drive www.clearbuck.com, which he launched with Mrs. Anderson and her cousin Marjorie Follett, who died in 2003.
“He was a surrogate father to her,” her daughter Debbie Ebert said of Weaver.
Mrs. Anderson, 92, died Sunday at Tablerock HealthCare Center in Kimberling City, Missouri, according to her family. She had renal failure, Fletcher said.
The 1988 John Sayles film “Eight Men Out” told the story of the Black Sox scandal, in which eight White Sox players, including George “Buck” Weaver, portrayed by John Cusack, were accused of taking bribes to throw the 1919 World Series and banned from baseball.
Mrs. Anderson pushed for years to clear her uncle’s name. She, Fletcher and baseball historians have argued his lifetime ban was too harsh.
“He didn’t take any money. He was not in on the fix. He played flawlessly through the series,” Ebert said. “But he went to the meeting and heard what the plan was and said he wanted no part of it, and he left.”
“He was very truthful,” Mrs. Anderson said in 2013 when she appeared on a Society for American Baseball Research panel in Philadelphia. “I know people say, ‘Oh, well, everybody lies sometimes.’ Baseball was Buck’s life. He could not lie about that.”
Many agreed with Mrs. Anderson’s crusade, which her daughter said the family will continue.
In 2005, then-U.S. Sen Barack Obama wrote to Bud Selig, then commissioner of baseball, asking for a new investigation. Obama pointed out that when the eight players, who also included Shoeless Joe Jackson and Eddie Cicotte, were prosecuted for conspiracy and found “not guilty” by a jury, “the trial judge, Hugo Friend, declared that he would not allow a conviction of one of the defendants, Mr. Weaver, even if the jury came back with that determination . . . . There has been no evidence that Buck Weaver participated in fixing the 1919 World Series.”
Even after the acquittal, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, baseball’s commissioner, banned the players for life.
“It’s just sad one of the baseball commissioners couldn’t give her half an hour to talk about it,” Fletcher said of Selig. “Unfortunately, she did not get what she worked for.”
Young Pat grew up in Chicago and went to Calumet High School. Her mother Marie had toured the country in a vaudeville act, the Cook Sisters, with her sister Helen, who married Weaver.
After Weaver’s ban, he went into business with Mrs. Anderson’s father William Scanlan, a pharmacist. They owned six drugstores and at one point rejected Charles Walgreen’s offer to be his partners, according to Ebert. Then, the Depression came, and Scanlan and Weaver lost their business.
In 1931, when she was about 4, Mrs. Anderson’s father died of a ruptured appendix. Her mother took her and her other daughter Bette and moved in with their Aunt Helen and Uncle Buck. They lived with the Weavers for years at 71st and Winchester, Fletcher said.
“During the Depression, he took them in,” Ebert said. “It was extra mouths to feed, and he did whatever was necessary.”
Weaver — whom Hall of Famer Ty Cobb once called “the greatest third baseman I ever saw” — worked at a flower shop and as a parimutuel clerk at Sportsman’s Park race track. He also managed a softball team.
Mrs. Anderson said he was kind and patient, according to her daughter Sandy Schley. “He always tried to teach them sports, played ball with them,” she said.
Bette Scanlan, who later was a Chicago Sun-Times clerk and business writer, also campaigned to clear Weaver. He was “a second father and a hero to us,” Scanlan, who died in 2002, once said. “He should have been in the Hall of Fame instead of having his career shattered.
“The only thing he was guilty of was not being a squealer.”
Mrs. Anderson met her future husband Gordon, a construction superintendent, in Chicago. Weaver “was at the wedding, all smiles,” in 1948, Ebert said.
Weaver died in 1956.
Mrs. Anderson and her husband lived at 79th and Kedzie before moving to Tigerton, Wisconsin. In 1987, they moved to the Ozarks. He died in 2009.
Mrs. Anderson is also survived by her daughter Sharon Anderson, son Bruce, six grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
A service will be held this week, with a larger celebration of her life planned this summer.
Mrs. Anderson loved the movie “Eight Men Out,” Ebert said, and thought “John Cusack is just the bomb.”