Gamblers & Miscreants

The list at the bottom of this page is the rogue’s gallery of baseball — those players who have been banned. Some have been reinstated, but all were initially banned not just for the rest of their lives, but forever.

Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle and Ferguson Jenkins have all been on the Major League Baseball Ineligible List. All three are now in the Hall of Fame, having been reinstated.

But should any scofflaws be punished forever? Shoeless Joe Jackson, a truly great player who was banned in 1920 for a major gambling and game-fixing offense committed in 1919, died in 1951. Yet more than half a century later, his induction into the Hall of Fame cannot even be considered, because he remains banned for his involvement in the Black Sox scandal.

One argument for reinstatement of all players is that our national standards have changed, and that gambling in some form is now legal in most states. Habitual gambling and drug addiction is now seen as an illness, worthy of treatment and rehabilitation.

Another argument is that the Society for American Baseball Research and other scholars continually unearth new evidence regarding past scandals; for example, Charles Comiskey, owner of the Chicago White Sox and now a member of the Hall of Fame, incited the Black Sox scandal by grossly underpaying his players to the point of poverty, ignored warnings that the 1919 World Series was fixed, and almost certainly protected several key players or associates who also knew of the fix. Hardly Hall of Fame behavior.

(The term Black Sox predated the 1919 World Series and originally referred to the notoriously low pay of Comiskey’s team. It was said that they couldn’t even afford to wash their socks.)

In 1926 even the immortals Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker were accused of fixing a 1919 game in collusion with Smoky Joe Wood. The public was outraged over the accusation and quickly backed Cobb and Speaker; the law-and-order baseball commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, caved in to popular opinion and covered up the persuasive evidence. The damning investigation by the president of the American League, Ban Johnson, was overruled and the three were exonerated. The accuser, Emil “Dutch” Leonard, was discredited and Wood quietly retreated back to his coaching job at Yale University.

Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker and Kenesaw Mountain Landis are in the Hall of Fame.

So what to do with Pete Rose? He owns one of baseball’s most hallowed records, most career hits. In 2004 he admitted to betting on the Reds, but he denied betting against them. Interestingly, until Pete Rose, banishment was not a bar to election to the Hall of Fame; although no banned player has ever been elected, before Rose there was no rule addressing the issue.

Pete Rose’s case dragged Shoeless Joe Jackson and the ineligible others into purgatory. Had the Pete Rose rule been in place earlier, would Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle have been ejected from the Hall of Fame? And what of the players in the Negro Leagues, where mere gambling was not a cause for banishment?

We suggest that for the sake of the independence of the Hall of Fame Museum and its voters, players who are banned from baseball should still be eligible for Hall of Fame nomination. As a practical matter, the only banned players who could benefit are Pete Rose, and possibly Shoeless Joe Jackson and — far less likely — Hal Chase and Eddie Cicotte.

The “ineligible list” isn’t actually a physical list, but rather a series of decisions made by commissioners and league presidents since 1865. It was more formalized following the 1919 Black Sox scandal, but this all-time compilation is unofficial. It makes interesting reading, for it is gambling and game fixing — not steroids nor drunkenness nor wife-beating nor even murder — that dominates the causes:

Banned from Baseball
Name Team Banishment
Term
Commissioner Offense
Devyr, ThomasNew York Mutuals1865–1865No Commissioner Associating with gamblers.
Duffy, EdNew York Mutuals1865–1870No Commissioner Associating with gamblers.
Wansley, WilliamNew York Mutuals1865–1870No Commissioner Associating with gamblers.
Bechtel, GeorgeLouisville Grays1876–LifeNo Commissioner Conspiring with his teammates to throw a game for $500.
Devlin, JimLouisville Grays1877–LifeNo Commissioner Conspiring with teammates to throw two games.
Hall, GeorgeLouisville Grays1877–LifeNo Commissioner Conspiring with teammates to throw two games.
Nichols, AlLouisville Grays1877–LifeNo Commissioner Conspiring with teammates to throw two games.
Craver, BillLouisville Grays1877–LifeNo Commissioner Refusing to cooperate with investigators.
Walker, Oscar1877–LifeNo Commissioner Contract jumping.
Higham, RichardUmpire1882–LifeNo Commissioner Conspiring to throw a game.
Creamer, JosephNew York Giants1908–LifeNo Commissioner Bribing an umpire.
O’Connor, JackSt. Louis Browns1910–LifeNo Commissioner Attempting to fix the outcome of the 1910 American League batting title.
Howell, HarrySt. Louis Browns1910–LifeNo Commissioner Attempting to fix the outcome of the 1910 American League batting title.
Fogel, HoracePhiladelphia Phillies1912–LifeNo Commissioner Team owner. Publicly claimed that the umpires favored the New York Giants.
Jackson, JoeChicago White Sox1920–LifeKenesaw Mountain Landis Throwing the 1919 World Series. Acquitted in court, but the ban remained.
Cicotte, EddieChicago White Sox1920–LifeKenesaw Mountain Landis Throwing the 1919 World Series. Acquitted in court, but the ban remained.
Williams, LeftyChicago White Sox1920–LifeKenesaw Mountain Landis Throwing the 1919 World Series. Acquitted in court, but the ban remained.
Gandil, ChickChicago White Sox1920–LifeKenesaw Mountain Landis Throwing the 1919 World Series. Acquitted in court, but the ban remained.
McMullen, FredChicago White Sox1920–LifeKenesaw Mountain Landis Throwing the 1919 World Series. Acquitted in court, but the ban remained.
Risberg, SwedeChicago White Sox1920–LifeKenesaw Mountain Landis Throwing the 1919 World Series. Acquitted in court, but the ban remained.
Felsch, HappyChicago White Sox1920–LifeKenesaw Mountain Landis Throwing the 1919 World Series. Acquitted in court, but the ban remained.
Weaver, BuckChicago White Sox1920–LifeKenesaw Mountain Landis Knew of attempt to throw the 1919 World Series, but failed to warn management.
Gadeon, JoeSt. Louis Browns1920–LifeKenesaw Mountain Landis Gambling on the 1919 World Series, and knowing that it was fixed. Friend of Swede Risberg.
Kauff, BennyNew York Giants1920–LifeKenesaw Mountain Landis Selling stolen cars. Acquitted in court, but the ban remained.
Magee, LeeChicago Cubs1920–LifeKenesaw Mountain Landis Throwing games and collecting bets.
Paulette, EugenePhiladelphia Phillies1921–LifeKenesaw Mountain Landis Associating with gamblers.
Chase, HalNew York Giants1921–LifeKenesaw Mountain Landis Associating with gamblers, betting on his own teams and other corrupt practices.
Zimmerman, HeinieNew York Giants1921–LifeKenesaw Mountain Landis Encouraging teammates to fix games. Involved with Hal Chase.
Groh, HeinieCincinnati Reds1921–1921Kenesaw Mountain Landis Banned for two days while demanding a higher salary. Landis gave Groh the choice of playing for the Reds in 1921 or facing lifetime banishment; Groh chose to play.
Fisher, RayCincinnati Reds1921–1980Kenesaw Mountain Landis Refused to play because of a salary dispute. Commissioner Bowie Kuhn reinstated him in 1980.
Kerr, DickieChicago White Sox1921–1925Kenesaw Mountain Landis Salary dispute. Had been a member of the 1919 Black Sox, but won both of his starts in the 1919 World Series and was acquitted of involvement in the conspiracy.
Burns, Bill 1921–LifeKenesaw Mountain Landis Professional gambler and former major leaguer. Involved in fixing the 1919 World Series.
Dubuc, JeanNew York Giants1922–LifeKenesaw Mountain Landis Involved with Hal Chase in game fixing; peripherally involved with the 1919 World Series scandal. Not known whether Dubuc was actually officially banned.
Douglas, PhilNew York Giants1922–LifeKenesaw Mountain Landis Attempted to allow the St. Louis Cardinals to beat the Giants for the pennant.
O’Connell, JimmyNew York Giants1924–LifeKenesaw Mountain Landis Offered Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Heinie Sand $500 to throw a game.
Dolan, AlbertNew York Giants1924–LifeKenesaw Mountain Landis Coach. Accused by Jimmy O’Connell to have been behind attempt to fix a game in 1924.
Cox, WilliamPhiladelphia Phillies1943–LifeKenesaw Mountain Landis Team Owner. Betting on his team’s games.
Jenkins, FergusonTexas Rangers1980–1981Bowie Kuhn Marijuana and cocaine possession. First player to be banned for a drug offense. An independent arbiter reinstated him.
Mantle, MickeyNew York Yankees1983–1985Bowie Kuhn Retired since 1968 and a Hall of Fame member. Hired by a casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, as a greeter and autograph signer. Reinstated by Peter Ueberroth.
Mays, WillieSan Francisco Giants1983–1985Bowie Kuhn Retired since 1973 and a Hall of Fame member. Hired by a casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, as a greeter and autograph signer. Reinstated by Peter Ueberroth.
Rose, PeteCincinnati Reds1989–—A. Bartlett Giamatti Ties to gamblers. Giamatti died of a heart attack eight days after banning Rose. Rose can apply for reinstatement once a year for as long as he lives.
Steinbrenner, GeorgeNew York Yankees1990–1993Fay Vincent Team owner. Paid a private investigator $40,000 to “dig up dirt” and discredit Yankees player Dave Winfield. Reinstated by Bud Selig.
Howe, SteveNew York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers1992–1993Fay Vincent Large number of suspensions related to cocaine and alcohol. Shortly after banishment, an independent arbiter reinstated him.

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