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Top 5 Major League Baseball Scandals All-Time

Feb. 23, 2020 - Michael Stewart

Top 5 Major League Baseball Scandals All-Time

Introduction: The Houston Astros scandal is a black eye to Major League Baseball and it will not going away anytime soon. It made me think about the history of baseball and other scandals that occurred throughout the years and where does the Astros rank among the others. So I put together my list of scandals throughout baseball history and ranked them accordingly.  Here are my top 5 biggest baseball scandals of all-time.

  1. Houston Astros Sign Stealing: The Astros sign stealing ranks #1 in my book simply because the repercussion has affected a broad base of players and awards were obtained (World Series trophy and MVP). Although the Astros were caught with their hand in the cookie jar; I suspect that many more teams were involved in some sort of various ways and in time all this will be revealed. Commissioner Rob Manfred did not do enough as he should have held the players involved and team more accountable by stripping them of the world series trophy and also taking away the MVP from Jose Altuve as well.
  2. The Mitchell Report (Steroid Era): The 407 page report named 89 players who allegedly used performance-enhancing drugs to their advantage. The Mitchell report was released in 2007 and it defined player’s involvement dating back to the mid 1990’s. The sad note to this is that baseball knew about this and turned a blind eye; especially when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa put on a show to remember during their chase at Roger Maris 61 homers in a season. Ratings were up, revenue was up, so instead of putting a stop to it, then Commissioner Bud Selig simply ignored it.
  3. Black Sox Scandal: Books were written and movies were made about this iconic scandal that involved 8 players (most notably Shoeless Joe Jackson) on the 1919 Chicago White Sox that collectively collaborated with known gamblers and mobsters to throw the World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. The White Sox owned the best record in the American league with a 88-52 mark, as the Reds had the best record in all of baseball with a 96-44 record. The Reds finished off the White Sox winning 5 out of 8 games and claiming the World Series title. The aftermath involved MLB creating a position that would monitor all the teams; which was called the commissioner. Judge Kenesaw Landis was appointed and although the players were cleared of all charges, Landis issued his first suspension by banning all 8 players from baseball for life.
  4. Pittsburgh Drug Trial: Back in 1985 the popular drug among society and baseball was cocaine. It became so rampant throughout the Major Leagues (very similar to the steroid use) that it caught the attention of the federal government who with the assistance from several baseball players such as: Dale Berra, lee Lacy, Lee Mazzilli, John Milner, Keith Hernandez and Tim Raines and others were called before the grand jury . A total of eleven players were suspended; which was exchanged for fines, drug testing and community service. It was reported that nearly 40% of the players in the early 1980’s used cocaine.
  5. Pete Rose Banned (Gambling): Pete Rose has all the stats to be a 1st ballot Hall of Famer, all-time leader in games (3562) Plate Appearances (15,890)  At Bats (14,053) and Hits (4,256). Unfortunately; Pete Rose had an addiction to gambling and more specifically gambling on his own games while being the manager of the Cincinnati Reds. In 1989 , the rumor mill was claiming that Rose was betting on baseball and then Commissioner Bart Giamatti hired lawyer John Dowd to investigate. The Dowd report once completed detailed the rumors of Rose gambling to be true and as a result, Pete Rose was given a lifetime ban from baseball and exempt from Hall of Fame considerations.

Final Thoughts: These top 5 scandals have left and will continue to leave a mark on baseball in a bad way.  More than likely could affect baseball revenue wise; especially in 2020 and possibly in the years to come. Notable scandals left off this list left an impact on Major League Baseball such as:

  • 1980’s owners Collusion
  • Mays and Mantle Banned
  • Cap Anson/Moses Fleetword Walker
  • Marge Schott
  • 1994 MLB Strike
  • Steinbrenner/Winfield Feud
  • Umpire Dick Higham
  • 1957 All-Star Game Balloting