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Rothstein

One thing that I learned from David Pietrusza's biography of Arnold Rothstein (Carroll & Graf) is that Abe Attell, the former boxing champion who was, by all accounts, up to his cauliflower ears in the fix Rothstein bankrolled, was elected to the Boxing Hall of Fame in 1955, the Jewish Hall of Fame in 1982, the San Francisco Boxing Hall of Fame in 1985, and the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990. This suggests that Pete Rose would have been voted into Cooperstown a while back if he'd limited his gambling activities to boxing...or if he'd been a boxer.

Anybody who's read anything about the Black Sox affair knows that it was characterized by back-stabbing and broken promises on the part of all concerned...both those with the dough and those only hoping to encounter some. According to David Pietruasza, Arnold Rothstein's triumph was that he had so much money he could insulate himself from the greedy, fumbling idiots with whom he consorted in this misadventure. I'm not sure that distinction qualifies Rothstein as a genius, and he was, after all, shot to death by a drunk to whom he owed money following a poker game that Rothstein loudly maintained was crooked, which strikes me as at best about half-bright.

But maybe that's just me. Dick Thornburgh, the former United States Attorney General and Governor of Pennsylvania, praises Mr. Pietrusza's account as "a fascinating, engrossing portrait of a modern-day Professor Moriarity."

"You pays your money," as Mr. Rothstein, who ran a small casino out of his home in New York City and built a very large on in Saratoga, might have said, "and you takes your choice."

This program aired on October 10, 2003. The audio for this program is not available.

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