WHY IS THERE SO MUCH CHEATING IN BASEBALL?
You have probably heard the saying “If you’re not cheating, you’re not trying”. Well it appears Major League Baseball has hit another all-time low. This time it involves the Houston Astros and the Boston Red Sox. Both are guilty, or will be, of using video cameras to steal signs. Houston fired their GM and manager and the Red Sox followed suit by firing Alex Cora, who was with Houston when they were found guilty of cheating.
So why is there so much “cheating” going on in Major League Baseball? I am not sure I have a real good answer, but cheating is nothing new.
We decided to find the “BIGGEST” cheaters/scandals over the years. It will include gambling, steroids, pinetar, spitballs, scuffing, corking, thumbtacks and even moving outfield fences. Take a look from Bleacher Report:
Rocker is likely remembered for some of the many off-color comments that he made about New York and Mets fans. He admitted to taking steroids in 2000. Clearly, these comments may have been a result of his roid rage.
As if this wasn’t enough, Rocker admitted to taking HGH during his playing career as well.
Sheffield admitted to his own personal steroid usage in front of the BALCO grand jury. He said that he took The Cream and The Clear. This confidential testimony was eventually leaked to the public.
In addition to his own steroid use, Sheffield said that he got the drugs from Barry Bonds. It will be interesting to see how all of these claims impact Sheffield’s Hall of Fame chances.
Although it has never been proven that Glaus has taken steroids, there is some strong evidence pointing to it.
In 2003 and 2004, shipments of anabolic steroids were sent to Glaus’ home. It has been reported that Glaus got a prescription for the drugs from controversial doctor Roman Scruggs.
Jeremy Giambi was never able to perform at the same level that his brother did. However, that did not stop him from doing some of the same things that Jason did.
Giambi admitted to using The Clear, The Cream and Deca-Durabolin.
1877 LOUISVILLE GRAYS
There have been multiple gambling scandals in baseball’s history, and the first occurred in 1877. Four Grays players (pitcher Jim Devlin, outfielder George Hall, utility player Al Nichols and shortstop Bill Craver) were accused of throwing games after the first place Grays went on a 1-10 skid.
The players had admitted to getting paid to throw a few exhibition games during the season. The four players were banned from baseball. The team went out of business the following season as a result of the scandal.
During the 1988 NL Championship Series between the Mets and Dodgers, umpires noticed a foreign substance on relief pitcher Jay Howell’s glove. Upon further investigation, they concluded it was pine tar.
Howell was ejected and given a three-game suspension.
It has been alleged that Burdette threw a spitball during his years in the majors. This has never been confirmed and there is no video evidence.
Burdette is known for helping lead the Braves to their 1957 World Series victory over the Yankees by throwing three complete games.
Jason is the more famous of the two Giambi brothers. Like his brother, he also admitted to the BALCO grand jury that he took steroids and HGH. Giambi took the drugs between 2001 and 2003.
Giambi also stated that he got the steroids from trainer Greg Anderson. He was drawn to Anderson by all of the success that Barry Bonds had.
While Bagwell has never been conclusively connected to steroid use, it is clear that the link hurt his Hall of Fame candidacy. Bagwell received just 41.7 percent of the vote this year.
It is believed that the baseball writers have taken their own stance on steroid users. At the current moment, Bagwell is deserving of his place in the Hall of Fame and an unproven claim should not keep him out.
Volquez was suspended after he tested positive for Clomiphene. It is a fertility drug that is used by athletes between steroid cycles. It was banned by the MLB in 2008.
Volquez claims that he was prescribed the drug by a doctor because he was trying to start a family with his wife.
The New York Times published an article which stated that Ortiz had tested positive during the MLB’s survey testing in 2003.
It has never been proven that Ortiz took steroids, but Manny Ramirez was on the same list and was eventually found to have taken steroids. It is entirely possible that these two started taking steroids at the same time as members of the Red Sox.
As mentioned in the previous slide, Ramirez was named as having tested positive in 2003 in an article published in the New York Times.
Ramirez actually did test positive in 2009 for Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG). This is a fertility drug that is commonly used by athletes in between steroid cycles. Ramirez claims that he was given a prescription drug by his doctor and he did not know that its use was against league rules.
In 2009, Romero failed two drug tests. He tested positive for Androstenedione. This is a drug that is known to increase testosterone levels.
Romero had blamed the positive tests on an over-the-counter supplement, 6-OXO Extreme, that he had been using.
It is still unknown what substance Mota tested positive for in 2006. Mota immediately took full responsibility for his actions and blamed no one but himself.
While it is commendable that Mota actually apologized for his mistake instead of hiding behind excuses, as many other players have, he is still considered to be a cheater.
Lawton was suspended as the result of a positive drug test. He tested positive for Boldenone Undecylenate, which is an anabolic steroid.
Lawton also apologized for his mistake instead of making excuses.
Back in 2005, when he was a member of the Seattle Mariners, Franklin had a steroid test come back positive. It is unknown what drug Franklin tested positive for.
Franklin was given a 10-game suspension as a result.
Caminiti was one of the first players to admit to using steroids. He said that he used them during his MVP season in 1996 and for several years after that.
He also said that he believed that 50 percent of baseball players were using some type of performance enhancing drug.
It was first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle that Williams had purchased over $10,000 worth of steroids and HGH between 2002 and 2005. Williams’ name popped up once again when the Mitchell Report was released.
Cobb was one of the greatest baseball players ever. He was known for his fiery attitude and outstanding skills. However, Cobb didn’t exactly follow all of the rules.
It was known that Cobb would sharpen the spikes on his cleats to scare opposing fielders from tagging him out.
In 1999, Moehler was pitching against the Devil Rays early in the season. After struggling to start the game, Moehler suddenly became unhittable. Rays manager Larry Rothschild complained to the umpires.
Upon further investigation, it was determined that Moehler had sandpaper on his thumb, which allowed him to doctor the ball. He was suspended for 10 games.
In 1944, Potter became the first pitcher ever suspended by Major League Baseball for throwing a spitball.
He had been warned by the umpire about wetting his fingers before grabbing the rosin bag, and he then ignored the umpire’s warning. He was ejected and suspended for 10 games.
Pettitte was originally connected to HGH use in the Mitchell Report. Disgraced trainer Brian McNamee also admitted to injecting Pettitte with HGH on multiple occasions.
Pettitte eventually came clean and said that he used the drug in 2002 and 2004 when he was trying to recover from injuries.
Grimsley admitted to using steroids through his career, but said that he only began taking HGH once the MLB implemented its steroid testing policy in 2004.
Grimsley named other players such as Lenny Dykstra and David Segui in his affidavit.
Information about Dykstra’s alleged steroid use came out in a lawsuit his business partner filed against him. There was a statement from convicted steroid dealer Jeff Scott, who stated that he injected Dykstra “more times than he could remember.”
In addition, it was also alleged in the suit that Dykstra gambled on MLB games.
Tejada has maintained for years that he never used performance enhancing drugs. However, Tejada has been linked to these drugs on three separate occasions.
He was implicated in Jose Canseco’s book, Juiced. Canseco claims that he taught Tejada all about steroids. Rafael Palmeiro blamed his positive drug test on a tainted B12 shot he got from Tejada. In the Mitchell Report, Adam Piatt claimed that he bought HGH and testosterone for Tejada in 2003.
As noted in the previous slide, Palmeiro failed a drug test. He tested positive for Stanozolol, which is an anabolic steroid. This occurred a few months after Palmeiro testified in front of Congress that he had never used steroids.
Despite having over 3,000 hits and 500 home runs, the positive steroid test clearly harmed Palmeiro in this year’s Hall of Fame voting. Palmeiro received just 11 percent of the writers’ votes.
In a game versus the Chicago Cubs in 1987, Hatcher’s bat broke during one of his plate appearances. Cubs third baseman Keith Moreland saw that there had been cork in the bat. Hatcher was suspended for 10 games after the incident.
He attempted to shift blame for the incident to pitcher Dave Smith. Hatcher claimed that he ran out of bats and was using one of Smith’s bats.
The Cubs had a tendency of running into players who cheated in 1987. A few weeks before the Hatcher incident, pitcher Kevin Gross was caught with sandpaper in his glove while pitching against the Cubs. Gross received a 10-game suspension.
The MLB confiscated the glove from Gross. Three years later, Gross called the MLB to try and get the glove back.
Towards the latter part of Sutton’s career, he was accused of scuffing the ball. In 1978 Sutton was finally ejected and suspended for 10 games for scuffing the ball.
However, the suspension was dropped when Sutton threatened to sue the National League.
McGraw played from 1891 until 1906. It was noted in Geoffry C. Ward and Ken Burns’ book, Baseball: An Illustrated History that McGraw used to grab the belt loops of players rounding third base or of players who tried to tag up at third.
He was also notorious for tripping players and impeding their way around the base paths in anyway possible.
McGraw was able to get away will all of this because there was only one umpire on the field in baseball’s early days.
In 1980, Royals shortstop Willie Wilson was on second base after he had hit a double. He noticed that there was a thumbtack on pitcher Rick Honeycutt’s finger. The umpires came to investigate and found the the tack. Additionally, they found a gash on Honeycutt’s head. He had mistakenly poked himself in the head with the tack.
Honeycutt was ejected, suspended for 10 games and fined $250. He later admitted that he did not feel that the tack gave him any advantage.
THE BOSSARD FAMILY
Apparently cheating runs in the Bossard family. Members of this family have been groundskeepers for the White Sox and Indians since 1920. There were many occurrences of cheating over the past 90 years that have been perpetrated by this family.
In the 1920s and ’30s, Emil Bossard, the Indians groundskeeper, would move the Indians’ portable fences back between 12 and 15 feet when the team played the Yankees. This took away some of the Yankees’ power advantage.
Gene Bossard began to freeze baseballs in 1967 because the White Sox were a pitching-first team that season. The Comiskey Park infield was also watered down to help out sinkerball pitchers such as Tommy John.
After his playing days were done, Otis admitted that he had used illegal bats for most of his career. This was a shocking revelation for a five-time All-Star to make.
Otis said that he had a friend drill a hole in his bats and stuffed them with superballs and cork. The hole was then filled back up. No one ever noticed that Otis had done this.
Although it has never been proven that Clemens used steroids, his name has been one of the bigger ones to consistently pop up in the discussion.
Jose Canseco noted that he believed Clemens had taken steroids, but he had no proof. Clemens was also named in the Mitchell Report. In addition, former Yankees trainer Brian McNamee said that he first started injecting Clemens with steroids in 1998.
Clemens testified in front of Congress that he never used steroids or HGH. He now faces perjury charges as a result of his claims.
It was eventually discovered that Scott’s outstanding splitter came as a result of his doctoring the baseball.
During a game in 1986, an umpire went out to the mound to check if Scott was doctoring the ball. Scott stuck his hand in his back pocket to remove the emery board that was there and stuck his hands up in the air. The umpire did not see the emery board fall to the ground.
However, second baseman Billy Doran did see the emery board and made his best scoop of the game.
Norm Cash had by far his best season in the majors in 1961. He batted .361 with 41 home runs and 132 RBI. After he retired, Cash admitted that he had been aided in putting up his great numbers.
Cash said that he used a corked bat during that season and even showed a Sports Illustrated writer how he corked a bat during an interview.
In a game against the Tigers in 1974, Nettles hit one of the 22 home runs he smashed that season. In his next at-bat, he hit a broken-bat single. While there is nothing extraordinary about a broken-bat single, there certainly is something extraordinary about seeing six superballs come out of a bat.
Tigers catcher Bill Freehan quickly collected all of the superballs and showed them to the umpire. Nettles was subsequently called out on the play.
After the game Nettles said that the bat was given to him by a Yankees fan in Chicago.
Jose Canseco was right yet again. This time it was about Alex Rodriguez. In his second book, Vindicated, Canseco claimed that he introduced Rodriguez to a trainer that was a steroid supplier.
In 2009, two Sports Illustrated reporters stated that Rodriguez tested positive for Primobolan, an anabolic steroid, and testosterone in MLB’s 2003 anonymous testing. Rodriguez admitted during an interview with Peter Gammons that he had taken a banned substance.
At a press conference during spring training, Rodriguez admitted that he used “boli” from 2001 to 2003.
One of the most famous moments in Brett’s career is the “Pine Tar Incident.” Brett hit a go-ahead home run in the top of the ninth against the Yankees in 1983. Yankees manager Billy Martin asked home plate umpire Tim McClelland to examine the bat, and it was determined that it had more pine tar than what was legally allowed.
The Yankees had noticed this earlier in the season but waited to make their claim until Brett did something. Brett famously exploded when he was called out. The Royals appealed and won. The game was resumed from right after the home run, but Brett was still ejected from the game.
Billy Martin protested this by putting Ron Guidry in center field and Don Mattingly at second base.
Canseco has been one of the biggest sources of knowledge when it has come to steroid users in baseball. He has personally pointed the finger at many players for their steroid use in his books Juiced and Vindicated.
Canseco used numerous performance enhancers during his playing career. He used Deca-Durabolin, Winstrol, Equipose, Anavar, all steroids and HGH.
Whitey Ford cheated in numerous ways during his career. He would cut the ball with his wedding ring or have his catcher cut the ball on the buckles of his shin guards.
In addition Ford would load the ball with mud. He admitted to doing this during the 1963 World Series.
Ford also threw what was known as a “gunk ball.” He put a mixture of baby oil, turpentine and rosin on the ball. There is a story that Ford kept this mixture in a roll-on dispenser and manager Yogi Berra once mistook it for deodorant. As the story goes, Berra ended up using it and glued his arms to his sides.
Chase played during the early 1900s and was a very good player. However, he was accused of throwing numerous games. The first allegation against him came in 1910.
He was suspended for part of the 1917 season after manager Christy Mathewson accused him of throwing games. In 1918, teammate Lee Magee accused Chase of trying to bribe him to throw games. Chase was suspended once again during the 1919 season when it was thought that he was throwing games yet again.
In 1920, Chase was suspended from Pacific Coast League ballparks for attempting to bribe an umpire.
Sosa makes this list for two different reasons.
The first reason that Sosa is on this list is that he was caught using a corked bat during a game against the Devil Rays in 2003.
Sosa has also been linked to steroids. It was reported by Michael Schmidt of The New York Times that Sosa was one of the players who tested positive during MLB’s survey testing in 2003. It is not known what Sosa allegedly tested positive for.
It was a shock when Androstenedione was found in Mark McGwire’s locker. However, he should not be condemned for it because it was legal in the US and not banned by baseball while he was using it.
McGwire was however conclusively linked to steroids and eventually admitted to using them during his playing career. As part of “Operation Equine” in 1992, the FBI found steroid dealer Curtis Wenslaff.
Wenslaff had notes that stated he put McGwire on a cocktail of Winstrol V, testosterone and Equipoise.
In 1994, slugger Albert Belle had his bat confiscated by umpire Dave Phillips before a game against the White Sox. During the game, Indians pitcher Jason Grimsley attempted to retrieve the bat. He went into the crawl space above the umpire’s room and replaced the corked bat.
Unfortunately for Belle, Grimsley replaced the bat with one that had Paul Sorrento’s name on it. The reason that this was done was because all of Belle’s bats were corked. As a result of this, Belle was suspended for seven games.
In a game in 1987 against the Angels, Twins knuckleballer Joe Niekro’s slider was unhittable. Umpire Tim Tschida came out to the mound to see if there was anything fishy going on. As this happened, an emery board flew out of Niekro’s pocket. In addition, he was found to have sandpaper on his finger.
Niekro was ejected and suspended for 10 games. He denied any wrongdoing and said that he needed the emery board to file his nails. When asked about the sandpaper, he said that he needed it because there were occasions where he would sweat a lot and the emery board would get wet.
Perry was known throughout his career for doctoring baseballs, but almost no one could prove that he was doing it. He was also a big proponent of the spitball, but he said that he didn’t use it often.
Perry also used Vaseline on baseballs. Perry also threw a “puff ball.” This was a pitch that had so much rosin on the ball that there were puffs of smoke as it headed towards home plate. Even Perry’s catcher with the Padres, Gene Tenace, noted that there were times where he struggled throwing the ball back to Perry because it was so loaded.
1951 SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
The San Francisco Giants admitted that they used a sign stealing system during the 1951 season. The Giants had coach Herman Franks sit in the clubhouse, which was in center field, and used a telescope to see the signs that the catcher was giving to the pitcher. A bell or buzzer signalled the pitcher to someone in the Giants bullpen, and then it was eventually relayed to the hitter.
If should be noted that the Giants erased a 13.5-game lead that the Dodgers held over them in late August. There have also been questions if Bobby Thompson hit the “Shot Heard Round the World” because he knew what pitch was coming.
Barry Bonds has been connected to steroid use for years now. In front of the BALCO grand jury, Bonds said that he believed that The Clear was flaxseed oil and that The Cream was arthritis balm. Bonds was eventually charged with perjury as a result of his testimony. Most of the steroids that Bonds used were given to him by his trainer Greg Anderson.
In Book of Shadows, authors Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams alleged that Bonds used insulin, human growth hormone, testosterone decanoate (a fast-acting steroid known as Mexican beans) and trenbolone, a bovine steroid, in addition to The Cream and The Clear during the 2001 season when he hit 73 home runs.
It is also believed that Bonds’ steroid regimen grew more and more complicated as the years went on.
1919 CHICAGO WHITE SOX
The Black Sox Scandal is the biggest scandal in baseball’s history. Eight members of the White Sox threw at least one game of the 1919 World Series. As a result of the scandal, Eddie Chicotte, Oscar Flesch, Arnold “Chick” Gandil, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, Frank McMullin, Charles “Swede” Risberg, George “Buck” Weaver and Claude “Lefty” Williams were banned from baseball.
To this day, Jackson’s participation in the fix is debated. There has been doubt cast on Jackson’s participation in the scandal by some of the other players involved. In addition, Jackson had the World Series’ leading .375 batting average. Jackson also did not make any errors in the Series.
It has been confirmed by multiple players that Jackson never even met with any of the gamblers. It has also been alleged that Jackson was illiterate and did not understand the significance of the plot. It has been suggested that he only participated when “Swede” Risberg threatened Jackson and his family.
As big of a shame as it is that players felt compelled to throw the World Series, it should also be considered a shame that one of the best players of his generation, if he truly was not a part of the scheme, had his career cut short early for something that he did not participate in.
Other instances we have found:
1908 bribery attempt
On the eve of the “playoff” or “makeup” game between the Chicago Cubs and the New York Giants that would decide the National League championship, an umpire refused an attempted bribe intended to help the Giants win. The Giants lost to the Cubs, and the matter was kept fairly quiet. It came out the following spring, but the results of the official inquiry were kept secret. However, the Giants’ team physician for 1908 was reportedly the culprit and was banned for life.
Recent research has suggested that the team physician was allowed to be the “scapegoat”; some baseball historians now suspect that the Giants’ manager, John McGraw, was behind the physician’s bribe attempt, or that it may in fact have been McGraw himself who approached the umpire. If true, and had it become known, it could have been disastrous, as McGraw was such a prominent figure in the game.
1914 World Series upset
The four-game sweep of the Philadelphia Athletics by the Boston Braves in the 1914 World Series was stunning. Students of that Series suspect that the Athletics were angry at their notoriously miserly owner, Connie Mack, and that the A’s players did not give the Series their best effort. Although such an allegation was never proven, Mack apparently thought that it was at least a strong possibility, and he soon traded or sold all of the stars away from that 1914 team. The A’s team was decimated, and within two years they limped to the worst season win-lost percentage in modern baseball history (36-117, .235); it would be over a decade before they recovered.
The manner in which the New York Giants lost to the Chicago White Sox in the 1917 World Series raised some suspicions. A key play in the final game involved Heinie Zimmerman chasing Eddie Collins across an unguarded home plate. Immediately afterward, Zimmerman (who had also hit only .120 during the Series) denied throwing the game or the Series. Within two years, Zimmerman and his corrupt teammate Hal Chase would be suspended for life, not so much due to any one incident but to a series of questionable actions and associations. The fact that the question of throwing the Series was even raised suggests the level of public consciousness of gamblers’ potential influence on the game.
Then, just a year ahead of the infamous Black Sox scandal, there were rumors of World Series fixing by members of the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs lost the 1918 Series in a sparsely-attended affair that also nearly resulted in a players’ strike demanding more than the normal gate receipts. With World War I dominating the news (as well as having shortened the regular baseball season and having caused attendance to shrink) the unsubstantiated rumors were allowed to dissipate.
1980s Pete Rose betting scandal
In March 1989, Pete Rose, baseball’s all-time hits leader and manager of the Cincinnati Reds since 1984, was reported by Sports Illustrated as betting on Major League games, including Reds games, while he was the manager.
Rose had been questioned about his gambling activities in February 1989 by outgoing commissioner Peter Ueberroth and his successor, National League president A. Bartlett Giamatti. Three days later, lawyer John M. Dowd was retained to investigate the charges against Rose. During the investigation, Giamatti took office as the commissioner of baseball.
The Dowd Report asserted that Pete Rose bet on 52 Reds games in 1987, at a minimum of $10,000 a day.
Rose, facing a very harsh punishment, along with his attorney and agent, Reuven Katz, decided to seek a compromise with Major League Baseball. On August 24, 1989, Rose agreed to a voluntary lifetime ban from baseball. The agreement had three key provisions:
Major League Baseball would make no finding of fact regarding gambling allegations and cease their investigation;
Rose was neither admitting or denying the charges; and Rose could apply for reinstatement after one year.
Despite the “no finding of fact” provision, Giamatti immediately stated publicly that he felt that Rose bet on baseball games. Eight days later, September 1, Giamatti suffered a fatal heart attack. The consensus among baseball experts is that Giamatti’s post-agreement statement, his sudden and untimely death, and appointment of new commissioner, Fay Vincent, a close friend and great admirer of Giamatti, doomed Pete Rose’s hopes of reinstatement.
Bud Selig, the former owner of the Milwaukee Brewers, succeeded Vincent in 1992. Rose has applied for reinstatement twice: in September 1997 and March 2003. In both instances, commissioner Selig chose not to act, thereby keeping the ban intact. Upon Selig’s retirement from the Commissioner’s Office, Rose applied for reinstatement in March 2015, but Selig’s successor Rob Manfred denied the request in December of that year.
On February 4, 1991, Rose’s ban from baseball was extended to the Baseball Hall of Fame, when the twelve members of the board of directors of the Hall voted unanimously to bar Rose from the ballot. However, Major League Baseball allowed Rose to be a part of the All-Century Team celebration in 1999 since he was named one of the team’s outfielders.
In 2004, after years of speculation and denial, Rose admitted in his book My Prison Without Bars that the accusations that he had bet on Reds games were true and that he had admitted it to Selig personally some time before. He stated that he always bet on the Reds, never against them.
1985 cocaine scandal
Pittsburgh Pirates players Dave Parker, Dale Berra, Rod Scurry, Lee Mazzilli, Lee Lacy, and John Milner, as well as non-Pirates Willie Mays Aikens, Vida Blue, Enos Cabell, Keith Hernandez, Jeffrey Leonard, Tim Raines, and Lonnie Smith, were summoned to appear before a Pittsburgh grand jury. Their testimony led to the Pittsburgh Drug Trials, which made national headlines in September 1985.
The spotlight on the “Pittsburgh problem” by the national media led to the more widespread awareness of use of other drugs such as amphetamines (“greenies” in baseball vernacular) and marijuana in the game. Both have a long history in baseball; Milner (who had retired two years earlier due to recurring hamstring injuries), in fact, spoke of Willie Mays and Willie Stargell, both iconic figures and Baseball Hall of Famers, giving him “greenies”.
Testimony revealed that drug dealers frequented the Pirates’ clubhouse. Stories such as Rod Scurry leaving a game in the late innings to look for cocaine and John Milner buying two grams of cocaine for $200 in the bathroom stalls at Three Rivers Stadium during a 1980 game against the Houston Astros shocked the grand jurors. Even Kevin Koch, who played the Pirates’ mascot, was implicated for buying cocaine and introducing players to a drug dealer. Ultimately, seven drug dealers pleaded guilty on various charges.
On February 28, 1986, Baseball Commissioner Peter Ueberroth suspended a number of players for varying lengths of time. A primary condition of reinstatement was public service. It would have also included urine tests, but the players union was able to successfully halt its implementation. To this day, drug testing, particularly of this sort, is a polarizing issue.
Rod Scurry died at age 36 on November 5, 1992 in a Reno, Nevada intensive care unit of a heart attack after a cocaine-fueled incident with police officers led to his hospitalization.