Cicotte was a pitcher, specializing in the knuckleball, who won 208 games and lost 149 over the course of a 14-year-career pitching for the Detroit Tigers, Boston Red Sox, and Chicago White Sox. At the time of his lifetime ban, he was considered one of the premiere 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 Sept. 3, 1905. Pitching in three games for Detroit, Cicotte compiled a record of 1-1 with an ERA of 3.50.
Cicotte didn't return to the major leagues again until 1908, when he resurfaced with the Boston Red Sox. Compiling a 41-48 record in a Boston uniform, the Red Sox sold him to the Chicago 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, and innings pitched. 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 throwing the Series.
In the 1919 World Series, 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. He later recanted the confession and demanded a trial. He was found innocent by a Grand Jury but banned from baseball for life.
His baseball career over, Cicotte returned to Detroit, where he worked for the Ford Motor Company and other miscellaneous jobs until his death on May 5, 1969 in Detroit at age 84.