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If A-Rod gets banned he’ll be in good company, historically speaking

Aug 2, 2013, 7:45 AM EDT

Mays Mantle

As we wait for Bud Selig to do whatever he plans to do to Alex Rodriguez, let us remind ourselves that he will not be the first person to be (possibly) banned from baseball for life. He’s not even part of a small group of people which, as most people recite it, includes only Shoeless Joe Jackson, Pete Rose and him.  There have been lots of baseball bans over the years. Thirty-eight have been banned, actually.

We know Rose. We know Jackson. If we think for a minute we also probably realize that Seven of Shoeless Joe’s teammates joined him as a result of the Black Sox scandal. But do you remember any of the others? Probably not most of them as the vast majority of bannings took place in the years before and just after Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis came into office, tasked with cleaning up the game following the infamous 1919 World Series.

There are some interesting cases among those early bannings. Nearly a dozen players and managers were banned from baseball for either gambling, associating with gamblers or conspiring to fix games prior to the Black Sox scandal. But it wasn’t just players and managers. There was one umpire — Dick Higam — who was banned in 1882 for conspiring to help throw Detroit Wolverines games. There was even a team physician, Joseph Creamer, who worked for the New York Giants, who was kicked out of the game in 1908.

After Landis took office he famously swept out the Black Sox, but that wasn’t the end of his ban hammer. He kicked out three or four other players for gambling in the next several years. He banned a couple for refusing to honor their contracts with their current teams (once upon a time wanting to actually control the circumstances of one’s employment was considered just as bad as gambling or steroids). Landis banned a guy for playing exhibition games which included the banned Black Sox. He even banned an owner — William B. Cox of the Philadelphia Phillies — for betting on his team’s games.

After Landis died in 1944, no one was banned for over 30 years. Then Bowie Kuhn decided to ban Fergie Jenkins after he was busted for cocaine and marijuana possession in 1980.  That ban was overturned two weeks later by an independent arbitrator. In 1983 came perhaps baseball’s dumbest ban ever: Kuhn banned Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays because they took jobs as casino greeters in Atlantic City. This despite the fact that their employers prohibited them from gambling in Atlantic City and despite the fact that there were no sports books in Atlantic City at the time. Some of us may take issue with some of the specifics of baseball’s war on PEDs, but it’s a divine crusade compared to what Bowie Kuhn was up to in the early 80s.

You’re probably more likely to remember the rest of the bans: Rose for gambling in 1989. George Steinbrenner in 1990 for  paying a private investigator $40,000 to “dig up dirt” on  Dave Winfield. Marge Schott in 1996 for making slurs against African-Americans, Jews, Asians and homosexuals, and for making sympathetic comments about Hitler and the Nazis. There are people who will claim that A-Rod is the worst person in baseball history, but jeez, at least he’s not a Nazi sympathizer. We hope.

Anyway, whatever happens today — at least most likely today — will be huge news.  But it won’t be the first time a big name is drummed out of the sport. And, thanks to Bowie Kuhn’s silly ban of Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays, if Rodriguez is banned for life, he won’t even be the biggest name banned in the past 30 years.

  1. frankgarrett - Aug 2, 2013 at 7:50 AM

    “Anyway, whatever happens today — at least most likely today — will be huge news. ”

    Boy. you baseball writers sure have a hard on ready to explode…

    • pjmarn6 - Aug 2, 2013 at 2:53 PM

      Craig Calcaterra has as much right to be a sports writer as Alex Rodriguez has to be president of Iran.
      Mantle and Aaron were SUSPENDED! The black sox players were BANNED!
      Suspension: The temporary prevention of something from continuing or being in force or effect. The players who are forbidden to play for 50 games are suspended.
      Players such as the black sox were banned. They forfeited the right to ever play baseball again in the major leagues, in major league parks or to play against major league players in exhibition games, etc.
      Pete Rose is banned from baseball.
      Braun is suspended from baseball.
      Anyone can complain and ask for a repeal of a suspension or ban. However while a suspension or ban is in place the terms of the suspension or ban are in effect until reversed or upheld.
      In the case of Braun as he knew the results of the urine sample that was misplaced or delayed would be positive, his suspension should be far longer than 65 days. Baseball should go back and accept that the results from the first test were indeed positive and he should first serve the 50 day suspension. Then the second suspension for his role in biogensis should be considered as a positive test result and he should have another 100 suspension tacked on to the 50 first suspension. After all that, for his deliberately lying, baseball should add a much lengthier suspension for his lying and deliberate misrepresentation of the facts. Say another 100 days. Therefore, his total suspension should be in the magnitude of 250 days. THERE IS WHERE AN EXAMPLE SHOULD BE MADE!

      • moogro - Aug 2, 2013 at 5:20 PM

        You write like Hawk Harrelson talks. If there were animated multi-font cartoon voice-bubble options on blogs would you use them to try to get your point across? Sheesh.

  2. blacksables - Aug 2, 2013 at 7:51 AM

    So if you put together a team of all the players banned, could they win the pennant? Aren’t these the important questions?

    • cohnjusack - Aug 2, 2013 at 8:25 AM

      Well…since 8 of the Black Sox were banned for what they did after winning the pennant…

      • unclemosesgreen - Aug 2, 2013 at 8:33 AM

        Buck Weaver apologist.

      • blacksables - Aug 2, 2013 at 8:36 AM

        It helps that Bill Craver was a catcher, otherwise, lots of passed balls.

      • pjmarn6 - Aug 3, 2013 at 2:20 PM

        cohnjusack… the black sox were banned AFTER throwing the world series. Not because they won the American League pennant.

    • pjmarn6 - Aug 3, 2013 at 12:39 PM

      moogro when you can come up with an intelligent response then you will have some credibility. But then you and Calcaterra want to protect and allow steroids and PED’s so you have to attack people who demand that the game be cleaned up and men with little boys’ attitudes still be allowed to lie steal and cheat.

  3. tbutler704 - Aug 2, 2013 at 7:56 AM

    That’s a nice picture of Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle.

    • greymares - Aug 2, 2013 at 8:14 AM

      I recognize it as the greatest ballplayer of all time and a drunk.

      • ditto65 - Aug 2, 2013 at 8:36 AM

        I didn’t know Willie drank.

      • whatthehellisansky - Aug 2, 2013 at 9:26 AM


      • anxovies - Aug 2, 2013 at 11:24 AM

        Babe Ruth was the greatest ballplayer of all time. And he was a drunk.

      • trollingforjustice - Aug 2, 2013 at 4:30 PM

        greymares is actually riley cooper

    • chrldr12 - Aug 2, 2013 at 3:18 PM

      A lot of home runs represented in that picture.

  4. natslady - Aug 2, 2013 at 8:00 AM

    Joseph Creamer–now there’s a name for a creepy doctor. Wonder what he was prescribing.

    • heyblueyoustink - Aug 2, 2013 at 8:14 AM

      I hear he moonlighted as Dr. Satan.

    • dondada10 - Aug 2, 2013 at 8:46 AM

      “There was even a team physician, Joseph Creamer, who worked for the New York Giants, who was kicked out of the game in 1908.”

      Wonder why he was banned. In a weird way I hope it was roids.

      • historiophiliac - Aug 2, 2013 at 9:40 AM

        Payoff to an ump, apparently.

      • asimonetti88 - Aug 2, 2013 at 10:28 AM

        Joseph Creamer, New York Giants team physician, was banned in 1908 for bribing umpire Bill Klem $2,500 (equal to $63,880 today) to conspire against the Chicago Cubs during a playoff game against the Giants.

      • tigersfandan - Aug 2, 2013 at 11:26 AM

        Bribing an ump, eh? Of course. How else could a team trainer get banned?

      • anxovies - Aug 2, 2013 at 11:31 AM

        Actually, it was an an attempted bribe, Klem turned him in. Bill Klem was the first umpire inducted into the Hall of Fame.

  5. paperlions - Aug 2, 2013 at 8:06 AM

    To show how screwed up the HOF is. Bowie Kuhn is in the HOF, and he was a horrible commissioner who was horrible for baseball. Far far far FAR too many freaking owners and commssioners in the HOF that didn’t do anything particularly outstanding or positive for baseball except be around a long time (those are actually the same standards the BBWAA use to dole out awards for writers and announcers, you don’t have to be good, just do it a long time). By those standards, Jamie Moyer should be HOFer, he contributed far more to baseball than the vast majority of off-the-field HOF inductees/awardees.

    • 18thstreet - Aug 2, 2013 at 11:40 AM

      Tom Yawkey is in the Hall of Fame, and some people are worried that Mike Piazza would sully it.

      • turdfurgerson68 - Aug 2, 2013 at 2:09 PM

        That racist SOB is in the Hall?

        How is possible to get elected to the HoF when you have first crack at signing Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays, and Harmon Kilebrew and PASS ON ALL THREE because you are a racist and/or a cheapskate???


      • 18thstreet - Aug 2, 2013 at 3:03 PM

        Plus this:

        Even as Fitzpatrick grew older and his tendencies to gravitate toward young boys became apparent, Yawkey protected him, according to two sources with knowledge of their relationship.

        But don’t worry: he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame because, as his Cooperstown plaque so clearly states, he was the first own whose team flew in a plane. And in an eight-team league, he team went to the World Series roughly once every eight years during his ownership. A true giant of the sport.

  6. natslady - Aug 2, 2013 at 8:12 AM

    I hope they put out the suspensions today (other than Rodriguez) and don’t wait until Sunday night. Let’s find out what we are dealing with.

    In the next CBA I hope they deal with the salary/contract issue to lessen the incentives for teams to employ these guys. I know sports will never be totally clean–especially with the $$ involved–but when you talk about weighing the pros-and-cons of cheating–! Teams hire these guys. Why? Because the $$ keeps rolling in with the wins.

    Also, you can write a hundred articles, New York Times, but I will NEVER feel sorry for Alex Rodriguez. He is NOT the underdog in this matter. He is the accused. He is a multi-multi million dollar accused who can hire the best lawyers and PR types to make his case (apparently he has suckered the NYT). He is like the corporations with oil-spills and their smarmy advertisements.

    Somewhere along the line, Rodriguez was willing to take a salary hit to play for the Red Sox, and that was nixed by the union, if I recall. Because heaven forbid a guy just wants to play for a contending team. Personally, I think that was the turning point in this morality play. Instead of a player he became a for-profit corporation. Part of me doesn’t blame him, but I don’t pity him either. He made his choice.

  7. scotttheskeptic - Aug 2, 2013 at 8:12 AM

    Bowie Kuhn may make Bud Selig look competent.

  8. hitdog042 - Aug 2, 2013 at 8:20 AM

    Mantle and Mays were reinstated. Steinbrenner was only banned from day to day ops. As usual this is more like Star magazine than a real news source.

    • paperlions - Aug 2, 2013 at 8:27 AM

      He was banned from having anything to do with the team besides being the nominal owner….that is pretty much being banned.

    • heyblueyoustink - Aug 2, 2013 at 8:45 AM

      Hey, have you ever read the personal ads in the Star magazine? Entertaining as all hell.

    • historiophiliac - Aug 2, 2013 at 9:42 AM

      Yeah, I wish Craig had clarified how many were later reinstated and how many are still banned. It’s still a larger list than many think but this kinda gives the impression that Marge and others are still out.

      • paperlions - Aug 2, 2013 at 9:54 AM

        Almost everyone banned has been re-instated (excepting Rose and the Black Sox). I don’t think there is actually anything called a “lifetime ban”. Anyone that is banned is banned indefinitely, and can apply for reinstatement, which the commissioner can review, grant, or ignore. The ban also does not end when the person dies (e.g. Jackson and other BS). Most guys (and Marge Schott) that have been banned were reinstated after the commissioner thought they had been “punished” long enough to learn their lesson (if any).

      • historiophiliac - Aug 2, 2013 at 9:57 AM

        I didn’t think that many were reinstated b/c the Commissioner changed his mind. I might have to check that.

      • historiophiliac - Aug 2, 2013 at 10:53 AM

        It looks like for the bans post WWII, except for Schott (whose bans were for specific periods), everyone was reinstated by an arbitrator/3rd person or succeeding Commissioner — not b/c the Commissioner who banned them relented. BTW, I wish they would call them “suspensions” rather than bans if they have a term date like Schott’s. It would be less confusing. I kinda don’t think we should call them bans if they were reinstated. Hrmmm.

      • historiophiliac - Aug 2, 2013 at 11:38 AM

        And, btw, it’s Fiesta Tigres weekend. Celebrating our Hispanic goodness! Interestingly, at any given time, we normally have just 1 or 2 white non-Hispanic dudes on the field.

  9. dlf9 - Aug 2, 2013 at 8:32 AM

    Wasn’t Steinbrenner banned twice? If I recall my early 70s history, after he was convicted of making illegal campaign contributions to Tricky Dick Nixon – not to be confused with Tricky Trot Nixon – he was suspended for a year. Then ~15 years later, he was again suspended for his involvement with Howie Spira in the Dave Winfield fiasco.

  10. tominma - Aug 2, 2013 at 8:44 AM

    If the reports about ARod are true, that he used PEDs and recruited others to do the same, then he should be banned for life. NO NEGOTIATIONS! It’s one thing to use, it’s quite another to recruit others to do so! That shows he has no respect for the games and deserves to be banned.

    BTW, it’s good to see the photos of 2 of the greatest players in baseball history. Willie Mays is perhaps the greatest 5 tool player ever to play. Then we have Mantle, whose legs possibly robbed him of even further greatness! Why cant we get players like that anymore???

    • antaresrex - Aug 2, 2013 at 12:47 PM

      Two of the ten greatest MLB players ever, including one of the three greatest, and you’re asking why we don’t see players like them anymore?

    • hockeyflow33 - Aug 2, 2013 at 5:01 PM

      So you aren’t made about the players taking the drugs just the people who suggested they should?

  11. historiophiliac - Aug 2, 2013 at 9:47 AM

    “Honey, is that black one they’re banning mine? I’m not paying him, right? Hey, somebody walk Schottzie. Where’s Rose?” — deadmargeschott

  12. cubanxsenators - Aug 2, 2013 at 9:52 AM

    “After Landis died in 1944, no one was banned for over 30 years.”

    Nobody got a lifetime ban (maybe), but less than 18 months after Landis’ death, Happy Chandler handed out dozens of 5-year bans (which may have been tantamount to playing-career bans for many) for the Mexican League “jumpers”, including Sal Maglie, Mickey Owen, (the first) Bobby Estalella and, of course, Danny Gardella – each important in baseball history for their own reasons

  13. shipdog7 - Aug 2, 2013 at 10:46 AM

    “at least he’s not a Nazi sympathizer”?
    No…he is a Madonna sympathizer….which is worse.

    • historiophiliac - Aug 2, 2013 at 11:06 AM

      Don’t be a jackass. That’s not even funny.

  14. kyzslew77 - Aug 2, 2013 at 10:51 AM

    “There were no sports books in Atlantic City at the time”

    Still aren’t! They were going to put some in this year and challenge the law that prevents it, but Chris Christie’s sudden White House ambitions made him very reluctant to ruffle feathers and go up against the DOJ. For those of us in the Northeast who like to put a few bucks down on a game now and then, it’s a disappointing development. This is not a political point, I’m not saying whether I like Christie’s politics or not, I just wish he hadn’t suddenly gotten very popular within his party in the last 12 months.

    • tigersfandan - Aug 2, 2013 at 11:28 AM

      Why is it so important for people to be able to be irresponsible with their money?

      • historiophiliac - Aug 2, 2013 at 11:45 AM


      • jimeejohnson - Aug 2, 2013 at 12:21 PM

        Are you a commie?

      • kyzslew77 - Aug 2, 2013 at 2:06 PM

        Keep clutching those pearls, Helen Lovejoy.

      • tigersfandan - Aug 2, 2013 at 2:26 PM


        Would you mind answering my question instead of resorting to name-calling?

  15. turdfurgerson68 - Aug 2, 2013 at 10:57 AM

    Go ahead and ban a-roid, but his salary should still count for luxury tax purposes.

    Which should the Yankees benefit from all this? They employed more juciers than any other team, yet have no negative ramifcations.

    MLB is going to give the incompet Cashman a free ‘get out of luxury tax jail’ pass.


    • 18thstreet - Aug 2, 2013 at 11:45 AM

      They’re still screwed. Their closer is retiring. Their best hitter is a free agent. Their best pitcher is a free agent. Their team leader is aging. Their most expensive starting pitcher is average and signed through 2016 (or maybe 17). Their second-most expensive player (after A-Rod) is average and signed through 2016. Vernon Wells and Alfonzo Soriano are signed for 2014. And they have no farm system.

      Yes, they’re getting a get out of jail card. And they’ll still lose. There’s no way to fix the mess they’re in.

      • 18thstreet - Aug 2, 2013 at 11:52 AM

        Opening Day 2014
        C: ?
        1B: Mark Teixeira, coming off the DL
        2B: Probably Robinson Cano, though there’s no guarantee
        3B: ?
        SS: Derek Jeter, coming off an injury-filled year
        LF: Alfonzo Soriano or Vernon Wells
        CF: Brett Gardner
        RF: Ichiro Suziki

        Are you really jealous of that?

        Among their starters, Sabathia, Pineda and Nova are the only ones under team control for next year. Kuroda, Pettitte and Hughes are free agents.

        So let’s be clear about this: going into the offseason, the Yankees have no second baseman, no third baseman, a bunch of lousy options at catcher. Aging talent at first base and shortstop and right field and left field. And three starting pitchers.

        Go ahead. Give them $30 million to spend. Some of it goes to Cano. Maybe some goes to Kuroda. And that’s the best case scenario.

        It’s over. The Yankees are dead.

      • 18thstreet - Aug 2, 2013 at 11:55 AM

        Yankee fans can bash Phil Hughes all they want, but the Yankees were unable to upgrade from him at the trading deadline, and they don’t have a better option than him. So he keeps trotting out there ever five days. They’re going to miss him next year. Really.

  16. hitdog042 - Aug 2, 2013 at 12:16 PM

    Eh. They Yankees would go go a 300mm payroll before they are “dead”. This is the steinbrenners.

    • 18thstreet - Aug 2, 2013 at 12:56 PM

      Who are they going to sign? The free agent pool is not what it used to be.

      Does extending a zillion dollars to any of these players sound like something that will turn the team around? Let’s say they sign McCain (4 years, $60 million), Cano (8 years, $200 million), Ellsbury (6 years, $150 million), Kuroda (2 years, $35 million) and Matt Garza (4 years, $60 million).

      Ellsbury-Jeter-Cano, Teixeira-McCann-Soriano, Ichiro-[3b?]-[DH?]. That’s still a lineup with four holes in it. And there’s no guarantee that anyone but Cano and Ichiro gives you 150 games.

      (On the other hand, it would be a good rotation).

      They can’t throw money at their problems any more. There’s nothing to buy.

      • 18thstreet - Aug 2, 2013 at 12:57 PM

        Brian McCann, not Senator McCain. Damn you, edit function!

        Here’s a list I meant to link to:

  17. ntvermo - Aug 2, 2013 at 12:26 PM

    These IDIOTS are stupid never learned to use their brains if they even have one….No common sense no abilitity to be able to write a interesting common sense story…It seems that A ROD will fight this til the death..hopefully it will be the death of his playing days and the loss of all that money also…The Yankees should get hit with the Luxury Tax also….Cashman has gotten what he wanted when he signed A ROD years ago..AROD has continued to lie to everyone…Maybe he should go talk to Roger Clemons and ask him for advise seeing he has gotten away with it so far…Red Sox are completely nuts for having anything to do with do they dare have him there? Why weren’t the media asking him a lot of tough questions about PEDs? I have no respect for him at all, i sure hope that there aren’t any littl leaguers still looking up at him as a good role model…How can he sleep at night, it maybe all that money he has under his pillow….

  18. pipkin42 - Aug 2, 2013 at 1:44 PM

    “once upon a time wanting to actually control the circumstances of one’s employment was considered just as bad as gambling or steroids”

    For a good number of fans, it still is. Witness the way that A-Rod (or any number of less-overall-douchey) players is excoriated for daring to leave a team in free agency.

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