Skip to content

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

Aug 2, 2013, 7:45 AM EST

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.

Latest Posts
  1. A.J. Pierzynski to earn a $2 million base salary with the Braves

    Dec 26, 2014, 10:25 PM EST

    A.J. Pierzynski A.J. Pierzynski

    The Braves’ one-year deal with catcher A.J. Pierzynski is for $2 million.

  2. Rafael Furcal suffers torn hamstring, will miss Dominican Winter League playoffs

    Dec 26, 2014, 9:20 PM EST

    Rafael Furcal Rafael Furcal

    Rafael Furcal has suffered another injury, this time a torn hamstring which will keep him out of the Dominican Winter League playoffs.

  3. Report: Phillies nearing a deal with Wandy Rodriguez

    Dec 26, 2014, 8:03 PM EST

    Wandy Rodriguez Wandy Rodriguez

    If Wandy Rodriguez passes his physical, the Phillies are expected to sign him to a minor league deal.

  4. Jeff Manship signed a minor league deal with the Indians

    Dec 26, 2014, 7:10 PM EST

    Carlos Ruiz, Jeff Manship Carlos Ruiz, Jeff Manship

    Jeff Manship will begin the spring with the Indians after signing a minor league deal.

  5. Giants may target Ben Zobrist

    Dec 26, 2014, 6:05 PM EST

    Ben Zobrist Ben Zobrist

    According to Peter Gammons, some GMs think the Giants will eventually trade for Ben Zobrist.

  6. Report: Hiroki Kuroda is going back to Japan

    Dec 26, 2014, 3:49 PM EST

    Hiroki Kuroda Getty Images

    After seven years in the United States, Hiroki Kuroda is heading home.

  7. Nationals sign Dan Uggla

    Dec 26, 2014, 11:32 AM EST

    dan uggla getty Getty Images

    Uggla hit .179 in 2013 and .149 this year.

  8. Baseball in Uganda? Yes, baseball in Uganda.

    Dec 26, 2014, 11:00 AM EST

    Uganda tourism destinations

    And it’s all thanks to a man named George Mukhobe.

  9. Giants re-sign J.C. Gutierrez

    Dec 26, 2014, 10:30 AM EST

    Juan Gutierrez Giants AP

    He threw 64 innings with a 3.96 ERA and 44/16 K/BB ratio for the Giants in 2014.

  10. Padres season ticket sales have spiked in the wake of their offseason spending spree

    Dec 26, 2014, 9:35 AM EST

    padres logo

    Remember, Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things.

  11. Chihiro Kaneko re-signs with Orix Buffaloes

    Dec 25, 2014, 3:05 PM EST

    kaneko getty Getty Images

    Japanese righty Chihiro Kaneko might have been one of the top starters on the open market this winter had he been posted by the Orix Buffaloes, his Nippon Professional Baseball team.

  12. 2015 Free Agent Tracker

    Dec 25, 2014, 1:23 PM EST

    Hanley Ramirez Hanley Ramirez

    Your one-stop shop for all of the offseason signings.

  13. Merry Christmas from HBT!

    Dec 25, 2014, 8:47 AM EST

    Screen Shot 2014-12-25 at 8.45.33 AM

    And a very special friend of HBT

  14. Tommy Lasorda reads “Twas the Night Before Christmas”

    Dec 24, 2014, 10:00 PM EST

    mlb video

    A good way to finish off our Christmas Eve coverage on HardballTalk …

  15. Kenta Maeda re-signs with the Hiroshima Carp

    Dec 24, 2014, 8:04 PM EST

    kenta maeda getty Getty Images

    The sought-after 26-year-old right-hander has now officially re-signed with the Hiroshima Carp for the 2015 season, according to the Japan Times.

  16. Rockies sign outfielder Roger Bernadina

    Dec 24, 2014, 6:17 PM EST

    roger bernadina getty Getty Images

    Ben Badler of Baseball America reports that the Rockies have agreed to terms on a minor league contract with outfielder Roger Bernadina.

  17. What baseball team did people from Bedford Falls root for?

    Dec 24, 2014, 4:21 PM EST

    IAWL

    A toast to my big brother George: The richest man in town. Well, except for Mr. Potter. That guy is LOADED.

  18. The Braves and A.J. Pierzynski reach a one-year deal; first reported in a ham store

    Dec 24, 2014, 2:00 PM EST

    Ham

    No, really. The news broke on line at a Honeybaked Ham store.

  19. THE YEAR IN REVIEW: HBT’s most commented-upon stories of the year

    Dec 24, 2014, 1:00 PM EST

    megaphone

    Based on these results, no, we will not stick to baseball. Because you clearly don’t want us to.

Featured video

Cubs shore up rotation with Jon Lester
Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. W. Myers (2140)
  2. J. Kang (2038)
  3. D. Ross (1948)
  4. M. Scutaro (1834)
  5. J. Shields (1829)
  1. C. Gonzalez (1820)
  2. D. Haren (1798)
  3. T. Tulowitzki (1718)
  4. J. Grilli (1717)
  5. S. Smith (1566)