Scandals in Baseball and Its Effect on America Baseball has always been considered as American as apple pie. If that is true than cheating should be just as American. Ever since the creation of America’s favorite pastime, baseball, cheating has been a major part of the game. Each era of baseball has showed more complex ways of cheating the game. Although, cheating in baseball has been around since the introduction of the game, only few scandals have really made history. Some of the most famous scandals include the Black Sox Scandal, the gambling of Pete Rose, and the use of steroids by players to enhance their performance.
Despite these corruptions the game has still managed to stay America’s most loved sport. Although cheating in baseball was around since the beginning one of the most remembered scandals in baseball history was the World Series of 1919. This scandal is most famously known as the Black Sox Scandal. The Black Sox Scandal is probably one of the biggest examples that baseball is corrupt. This scandal is an example of baseball players who broke the law and felt that what they did was perfectly justified. The Chicago White Sox was one of the most dominant teams of 1919.
People have often wondered why these players would participate in such a scandal. One would think that these players were rich. However, this is not the case of this winning team. Their owner, Charles Comiskey, paid his players far less than any other winning team. It is said that “Comiskey was very selfish when it came to salaries and he was said to rule his team with an iron fist” (chicagohs. org. ). He only paid his two best players $ 6,000 when other winning teams were paying their best players $10,000 or more. Because of the reserve clause Comiskey was able to lock these players into this salary cap.
In 1918, with the country disrupted by World War I, interest in baseball dropped to an all-time low. The 1919 World Series was the first national championship after the war, baseball and the nation were eager to get back to a normal life. Postwar enthusiasm for baseball soared. National interest in the Series was so high that baseball officials decided to make it a best of nine series, instead of the traditional best of seven. Although gambling was present in baseball long before the eight White Sox were accused of fixing the Series, the number of gamblers at ballparks had dramatically increased by 1919.
Ironically, Comiskey posted signs throughout the park declaring, “No Betting Allowed In This Park” (1919blacksox). Unfortunately for Comiskey, the signs were not enough. Player resentment was high and gamblers’ offers, which were sometimes several times a ballplayer’s salary, were too tempting to refuse. The financial problems and general unhappiness of the White Sox players was enough to convince eight members of the team to enter into a conspiracy that would change the game of baseball forever and be remembered as the greatest scandal in the history of professional sports.
They would agree to throw the World Series. It is said that white sox player Chick Gandil contacted a professional gambler named “ Sport” Sullivan and told him that he would throw the series if he was willing to pay $80,000 in cash to him and whoever else he could convince to throw the games. Gandil knew that he could get pitcher, Ed Cicotte, to go along with this plan. Cicotte was promised an “incentive payment” (baseball-almanac. com) of 10,000 by Comiskey if he won 30 games. When Cicotte won 29 games Comiskey benched him stating that he should rest to get ready for the pennant games (chicagohs. org. ).
Because of Comiskey doing this to him, Cicotte was angry with him and had money problems so he quickly joined in on the “fix”. Gandil soon got six other players to throw the series. These men included Joe Jackson, Lefty Williams, Oscar” Happy” Felsch, Fred McMullin, Charles “Swede” Risberg, George ”Buck” Weaver. The players were all lined up now it was up to Sullivan to come up with the money. Sullivan knew that getting that much money would be hard to do but he agreed to meet with Gandil again before the end of the season. Soon word got out to another gambler, Bill Burns. He approached Cicotte and offered him $100,000.
Gandil and Cicotte met with Burns and agreed that they would do the fix as long as they got paid before the series began. Burns took off for New York with his boxer friend Billy Maharg to meet with Arnold Rothstein, a big time gambler, to come up with the money for the fix. At first, Rothstein did not go for it but then Sullivan went to Rothstein with his plans for the fix totally laid out. Rothstein decided to get in on the fix. He sent one of his men to Chicago with $ 40,000 to give to Sullivan to give to the players and the rest would be distributed if the series went as planned.
However, when Sullivan got the money he quickly gambled $30,000 and then gave $10,000 to Gandil. The players not happy with the amount that they got they decided that they would throw the first two games and then ask for more money. Gandil told Sullivan he needed more money before the fourth game or the fix was off, Sullivan complied and after the game Gandil gave $5,000 to each of the players except Weaver who apparently was not participating in the plan. “The series continued as planned and the White Sox lost the series to the Cincinnati Reds, ”five games to three” (findingdulcinea. com).
Although, rumors about a possible fix had already been made before the 1919 World Series only one person paid attention to them, this man was sports writer Hugh Fullerton. Fullerton focused on certain plays that may have proved that the series was fixed. With his close observation he warned owners that they should do something to decrease gamblers involvement of the game. The World Series of 1919 probably would have been overlooked if the problem of gambling did not become so wide spread. In 1920, hearings took place in Illinois about the Chicago Cubs throwing games for money against the Phillies.
Soon the grand jury began to question players, owners, and gamblers about the events that occurred during the previous year. Two of the eight men that were involved in the scandal were the first to admit of the throwing of the games. These men were Joe Jackson and Eddie Cicotte. When these hearings were over indictments were issued to the eight players and the others involved in the scandal. The players were suspended for the rest of the 1920 season. The news devastated Americans and there were thoughts of cancelling the 1920 World Series.
In response to this crisis the first commissioner of baseball was appointed to clean up baseball. This man was Kenesaw Mountain Landis. The first thing he did was ban these eight men from ever playing baseball again. Landis quoted “regardless of the verdict of the juries, no player who throws a ball game, no player who undertakes or promises to throw a ball game, no player who sits in confidence with a bunch of crooked players and does not promptly tell his club about it, will ever play professional baseball” (chicagohs. org. ).
Landis would suspend 19 people total during his career as commissioner the last one being suspended in 1943. There have only been four men banned from baseball since 1943. These men included: Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Pete Rose and George Steinbrenner. All of them were reinstated except for Pete Rose. Pete Rose was a baseball player and manager, who set the major league record for career hits. In 1963, he signed with the Cincinnati Reds and remained with them until 1978. Then in 1979 he signed with the Philadelphia Phillies at the end of the 1983 season.
The following year he started with the Expo’s only to go back to the Reds late in the season. Rose ended his baseball career in 1986 but remained with the Reds as their manager until 1989 when he was banned from baseball. Pete Rose was placed on Baseball’s ineligible Hall of Fame list in 1989 and was banned completely from baseball. Bart Giamatti, the commissioner of baseball, concluded that Rose had bet on baseball games, including games involving his own team, the Cincinnati Reds, during the 1985,’86, and 87’ seasons (findingdulcinea. om). In an agreement was made with the Baseball Association and Rose accepted his banishment from the sport. He denied betting on the game for many years and has tried numerous times to be reinstated in baseball and inducted into the Hall of Fame. It wasn’t until 2004 that he confessed to the gambling charges and in 2009 he admitted to wagering bets on every game. Pete Rose has apologized to baseball fans and has admitted that he has a gambling problem. Rose still says that he never bet against the Reds’.
Many baseball fans feel that the punishment of Pete Rose was harsh, which makes his story a very controversial topic in the world of sports. Arguments have been made in his favor, that he was one of the greatest baseball players and managers that ever was involved in the game and should be inducted into the Hall of Fame (Pete Rose had a record career of 4,256 hits)(baseball-almanac. com). However, many fans feel that the rules are “no betting allowed” and since he broke these rules than he should never be reinstated.
According to Sports-law blog ,“Reports are coming out that MLB Commissioner Bud Selig is considering reinstating Pete Rose to baseball” (sports-law. blogspot. com). This news has fans stirring up the Rose controversy once again. Although many argue that Pete Roses’ actions blackened the integrity of baseball it could never compare to the cheating that’s taking over baseball today. Steroid use in Major League Baseball is a topic of growing concern. Players have started “cheating” by using these drugs to help them play stronger and better. Many players have turned to these drugs to enhance their performance.
Baseball today is slowly turning from a team sport to an individual sport. Players have begun to focus more on money and themselves than on the true meaning of the game. Such players as Mark McGuire and Barry Bonds have been associated with these drugs to help enhance their hitting. Although, McGuire has never admitted to or been convicted of using these drugs former team member Jose Canseco has said that he used to inject him with these drugs. McGuire retired from baseball two years before The Mitchell Reports were released. These reports were started by baseball Commissioner Bud Selig.
He hired a man named George Mitchell to do random drug tests for steroid use in baseball. The year that this report came out 89 players in MLB tested positive to steroid use (Wikipedia. com). When the results from this report were made public Selig stated that disciplinary action will be taken. Barry Bonds was also accused of taking steroids to enhance his game. He was indicted in a case against a leading drug company (Balco). Barry Bonds allegedly lied on the stand and was brought up with charges of perjury and obstruction of justice for lying about his involvement with steroids.
He was scheduled to go to trial in March, 2009 but the trial has been postponed indefinitely. In conclusion, baseball has had its share of scandals but the game will still remain America’s most favorite pastime. From the Black Sox Scandal to its’ current battle of steroid use the games will go on. American’s will always look to baseball as a form of “normal” life. Whatever tragedies that may occur in our world we will always turn to baseball for comfort. Baseball may have some flaws but it will remain as American as apple pie forever.