-->

Scroll To Top

If Illegal Sign-Stealing Doesn’t Get Someone Banned from Baseball, What Does?

If Illegal Sign-Stealing Doesn’t Get Someone Banned from Baseball, What Does?

Here’s a look at some of those who have been banned from baseball…and why.

How times have changed. Let’s compare a World Series scandal of 100 years ago to a shiny modern one of today.

Accusations, and evidence of sophisticated sign-stealing (advanced cheating) in the 2017 World Series by the Houston Astros (they won) and in the 2018 World Series by the Red Sox (they won, too) have rattled the entire sports world, from sports show hosts to fans everywhere..

What’s happened so far regarding punishment? A few managers and a GM have been suspended by MLB, then fired by their teams.

No bans, though. The suspended GM and managers could get hired again soon.

And not one player has been suspended, or even reprimanded, by MLB. In fact, before the investigation took place, the Commissioner supposedly agreed to give ALL players who might have been involved a pass—he granted them immunity—to get the facts, which are still unclear.

It’s very likely that no one on the cheating teams (either from the front office, or on the bench near the trash cans) will likely ever get banned from baseball—even though this is one of the worst scandals ever in baseball and professional sports.

Looking back.

In 1919, eight players on the Chicago White Sox conspired to throw games and lose the World Series to the Cincinnati Reds. Money from big-name gamblers was behind it all.

In 1920 (exactly 100 years ago), the eight players were banned from baseball (permanently, as it turns out) by the very first MLB Commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis. “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, one of the greatest hitters of all time, was one of the eight players on that team. He never played again.

The eight Chicago “Black Sox” conspired to lose to get money from gamblers. They were banned.

The Astros conspired to cheat and win…for the WS title, and the money that comes with it. They don’t even seem to feel bad about it.

Unpunished, all the Astros players will be on the field on Opening Day 2020.

So, what does it take to get banned from baseball, and who has this happened to?

According to Wikipedia: banning a player, manager or coach, or an executive from Major League Baseball is a punishment set forth by the Office of the Commissionerof Major League Baseball, for an action that violated set rules or that tarnished the integrity of the game. Most persons who have been banned (including many who have been reinstated) were banned due to association with gambling or otherwise conspiring to fix the outcomes of games; others have been banned for illegal activities off the field (drugs, for example), violating the terms of their playing contract, and so on.

Once you’ve been banned, you cannot associate with Major or Minor League Baseball in any way, not directly or indirectly. Not until that ban is lifted…and that happens quite a bit, actually.

There is no such thing as a “permanent” ban.

A player can be reinstated after he has been banned, even if he has supposedly been banned “for life.” That decision to keep the ban or reinstate the player will be made later. Many well-known players have been banned by the commissioner, for good cause, then reinstated by the same or the next commissioner.

Yankees owner George Steinbrenner was banned in 1990 for hiring a private investigator to dig up dirt on former player Dave Winfield. Three years later the ban was overturned and Steinbrenner was back in his former role.

Joe Harris of the Cleveland Indians was “banned for life” in 1920 for abandoning the team to play for an independent team—he was reinstated two years later by the same commissioner who banned him.

Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott was banned once in 1993 and again in 1996 for public slurs against a long list of races and lifestyles she didn’t like. She is, by the way, the only woman to be banned. She was reinstated in 1998.

Gambling has always been a no-no. Usually.

If a player or MLB coach or executive gambles on baseball games or is employed by gambling establishments, there’s a very good chance they might get banned.

The rules are spelled out by very clearly by MLB and the teams and players know them—or at least the players should know them.

Pete Rose knew the risks he took by placing bets, even though he claimed for a long time he didn’t bet on baseball. The “no gambling” rule is posted in every clubhouse in baseball, and as a manager of the Reds, he should have been leading by example.

Rose, who denied he gambled on games, was exiled from MLB for gambling in 1989...after reaching an agreement with Commissioner Bart Giamatti. The agreement said, “Peter Edward Rose is hereby declared permanently ineligible in accordance with Major League Rule 21 and placed on the ineligible list.”

Rose eventually fessed up and admitted that he bet on baseball as a player and as a manager too; and he admitted to betting on the Reds when he was their manager, but only to win. After he was banned, the Hall of Fame made a rule that no banned player would be admitted to the Hall. Rose has been quoted as saying “I made a big mistake. It's my fault. It's nobody's else's fault." But he also says that because he is “the best ambassador baseball has," he should be reinstated.

Detroit pitcher Denny McLain, another player from the 1960s, was not banned by then Commissioner Bowie Kuhn for his bad behavior and known gambling connections. He was suspended twice, while a player, but never banned. He is also not in the Hall of Fame.

Amazingly, the last batter McLain faced in the Big Leagues was Pete Rose.

Say it ain’t so!” Mays and Mantle banned from baseball?!

Hard to believe, but it’s true. Willie Mays was banned from baseball in 1980 and Mickey Mantle in 1983 by Commissioner Bowie Kuhn for being paid by Atlantic City casinos to greet customers and sign autographs. The two Hall of Famers were both retired and not working in baseball at the time.

Thankfully, the next Commissioner, Peter Ueberroth, reinstated them in 1983.

Their plaques are still hanging up at Cooperstown.


Wikipedia. Banned baseball players; New York Times; espn; baseball-almanac.com; baseballreference.com