White Sox scandal periodicals resurface

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At first, librarian Erik Kraft thought the bulky books on top of a University of Illinois study table were only out of place.

But after opening the dusty, bound volumes Tuesday night, he realized they were the missing editions of a rare sports newspaper credited with first reporting the 1919 White Sox gambling scandal.

With his find, Kraft became a library hero and the Case of the Missing Collyer's Eye was solved--sort of. It remains unclear how the large volumes returned to the library Tuesday night, the day the Tribune published a story about the missing books.

The volumes include newspapers from 1920 to 1922 and 1924 to 1926.

"I got the sense that someone heard the news stories and had an attack of conscience and decided to drop them off," said Kraft, 28, a visiting assistant librarian for digital resources, who said he saw the books while strolling through the reference room to straighten up and check if anyone needed help.

"It was a conspicuous location," he said. "It is in a very visible place, one of the first tables when you walk in the room, but it is semiprivate," with chest-high stacks of books surrounding the table.

Librarians at the Urbana-Champaign campus realized the 1920s volumes of Collyer's Eye, a weekly sports and gambling newspaper, were missing earlier this fall around the same time the White Sox were on their way to winning the team's first World Series in 88 years.

Kraft spotted the books at about 9 p.m. on the third table from the entrance of the 2nd-floor reference room. He said he did not see them during a walk through the room two hours earlier. Kraft called another librarian to share the good news and locked them in his office overnight.

University police said in a news release that they do not plan to fingerprint the fragile volumes because it could harm them.

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