List of people banned from Major League Baseball

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A ban from Major League Baseball is a form of punishment levied by the Office of the Commissioner of Major League Baseball (MLB) against a player, manager, executive, or other person connected with the league as a denunciation of some action that person committed that violated or tarnished the integrity of the game. A banned person is forbidden from employment with MLB or its affiliated minor leagues, and is forbidden from other professional involvement with MLB such as acting as a sports agent for an MLB player. Since 1991, all banned people – whether living or deceased – have been barred from induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Major League Baseball has maintained a list of "permanently ineligible" people since Kenesaw Mountain Landis was installed as the first Commissioner of Baseball in 1920. Although the majority of banned persons were banned after the establishment of the Commissioner's office, a few were banned prior to that time. 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 a multitude of reasons including illegal activities off the field, violating some term of their playing contract, or making disparaging remarks that cast the game in a bad light.

History[edit]

Before 1920, players were banned by the decision of a committee. There were 14 banned from 1865–1920; of those, 12 were banned for association with gambling or attempting to fix games, one was banned for violating the reserve clause, and one was banned for making disparaging remarks.

In 1920, team owners established the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball, ostensibly to keep the players in line and out of corruption's way. Kenesaw Mountain Landis, a federal judge, was the owners' ideal candidate for the job and was given unlimited power over the game, including the authority to ban people from the game. He banned many players and various others, often for very small offenses, and at times almost indiscriminately. In his 24 years as commissioner, Landis banned more people than all of his successors combined.

Since Landis' death in 1944, only one person who was banned by one of his successors has not been reinstated: Pete Rose. In 1991, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum voted to bar banned players from induction. In 2005, as a result of the findings of the Mitchell Report, the Major League Baseball Players Association stipulated that multiple violations of the new Major League Baseball drug policy would result in a lifetime ban.[1]

Punishment[edit]

A person who has been banned from Major League Baseball is barred from:

  • employment with MLB or one of its franchises or affiliated minor leagues as a player, coach, or manager, or in the front office
  • acting as a sports agent for an MLB player, coach, or manager
  • maintaining business ties with MLB or one of its franchises, e.g., a banned person must purchase a ticket in order to attend a game
    • The exception to this is if MLB or one of its teams invites the banned person to participate in an event such as a public recognition ceremony.
  • induction to the Hall of Fame, whether the person is living or deceased

Terms such as "lifetime ban" and "permanent ban" are misnomers, as a banned person may be reinstated (i.e., have the ban removed) on the decision of the Commissioner of Major League Baseball, and in the case of Hall of Fame induction the ban can extend beyond a person's lifetime. Additionally, a ban does not forbid a person from participating in baseball leagues that are not affiliated with MLB.

List of banned people[edit]

People banned before Kenesaw Mountain Landis took office in 1920[edit]

  • Thomas Devyr, Ed Duffy and William Wansley of the New York Mutuals were banned in 1865 for associating with known gamblers. (Devyr was reinstated later that year, and Duffy and Wansley were reinstated in 1870.)[2]
  • George Bechtel of the Louisville Grays was banned in 1876 for conspiring with his teammates to intentionally lose a game for $500, equal to $11,100 today.
  • Jim Devlin, George Hall, Al Nichols and Bill Craver of the Louisville Grays were banned in 1877 for conspiring to throw two games. (No evidence was ever found to suggest that Craver actually had anything to do with the conspiracy, but he refused to cooperate with the investigators.)
  • Oscar Walker was banned in 1877 for "contract jumping" by signing a contract to play for another team while still under contract to the team he left. (This was 98 years prior to the advent of free agency in sports; Walker was reinstated in 1879.)
Jack O'Connor
  • Umpire Richard Higham was banned in 1882 for conspiring to help throw a Detroit Wolverines game after Detroit's owner hired a private investigator to check out Higham's background and found that he was an associate of a known gambler. (To date, Higham is the only umpire banned for life.)
  • Joseph Creamer, New York Giants team physician, was banned in 1908 for attempting to bribe umpire Bill Klem $2,500 (equal to $65,600 today) to conspire against the Chicago Cubs during a playoff game against the Giants.
  • Jack O'Connor and Harry Howell, manager and coach of the St. Louis Browns, were banned in 1910 for attempting to fix the outcome of the 1910 American League batting title for Cleveland Indians player Nap Lajoie against Ty Cobb.
  • Horace Fogel, Philadelphia Phillies owner, was banned in 1912 for publicly asserting that the umpires favored the New York Giants and were making unfair calls against his team.

People banned under and possibly before Landis[edit]

  • Hal Chase of the New York Giants was banned in 1921 for consorting with gamblers and betting on his own teams, among other corrupt practices. (Chase had previously been accused of fixing games as early as 1910, and was reportedly passed over for managerial opportunities due to the allegations. In 1918 Christy Mathewson had suspended Chase mid-season for fixing games, and John McGraw persuaded Mathewson to trade him to the Giants. At the end of the 1919 season, National League president John Heydler found evidence that Chase had indeed taken money from gamblers in 1918. Heydler ordered his immediate release, and no other National League team would sign him. Since no American League team would sign him either, Chase was effectively blackballed from the major leagues. Landis' declaration after the Black Sox trial that no one who bet on baseball would ever be allowed to play is recognized as formalizing the ban.)
  • Joe Harris of the Cleveland Indians was banned for life in 1920 after he chose to play for an independent team rather than the Indians. (Harris was reinstated by Landis in 1922 due, in part, to his service during World War I.)
Heinie Groh
  • Heinie Zimmerman of the New York Giants was banned in 1921 for encouraging his teammates to fix games. (He had been benched by McGraw and later sent home during the 1919 season, and had been informally banned from the majors. During the 1917 World Series, he chased the winning run across the plate and found himself having to deny having helped throw the Series. Despite some of these allegations, McGraw would not turn him in, not wanting to be the one responsible for having one of his players banned for life, and suspended him indefinitely. Later, McGraw testified in court that Zimmerman conspired to fix games. As with Chase, Landis' declaration after the Black Sox trial is seen as formalizing Zimmerman's ban as well.)

People banned under Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis[edit]

Shoeless Joe Jackson, 1919
Lefty Williams
Chick Gandil
  • "Shoeless" Joe Jackson. (The precise extent of Jackson's involvement is controversial.)
  • Eddie Cicotte. (One story says that Cicotte had been promised a $10,000 bonus - equal to $136,000 today - if he won 30 games; he was denied five starts towards the end the season by team owner Charles Comiskey who had manager Kid Gleason bench him to "save his arm for the World Series". However, the story remains unsubstantiated. Cicotte went 29-7 for the season.)
  • Lefty Williams lost all three of his starts in the World Series, setting a record that has never been matched. (The only other pitcher to have lost three games in a single World Series, George Frazier in 1981, lost all three of his appearances in relief.)
  • Chick Gandil was the mastermind and ringleader of the scandal.
  • Fred McMullin was only a backup infielder. However, he overheard teammates discussing the fix and threatened to report them unless he was included.
  • Swede Risberg was one of the ringleaders of the scandal.
  • Happy Felsch hit and fielded poorly in the series.
  • Buck Weaver was banned because he knew of the conspiracy, but did not report it to MLB authorities and team ownership; Weaver successfully sued owner Charles Comiskey for his 1921 salary.
  • Joe Gedeon of the St. Louis Browns was banned in 1920 for allegedly conspiring with the gamblers behind the Black Sox scandal.
  • Eugene Paulette of the Philadelphia Phillies was banned in 1921 for associating with known gamblers.
  • Benny Kauff of the New York Giants was banned in 1920 for selling stolen cars. (Commissioner Landis considered him "no longer a fit companion for other ball players," despite Kauff being acquitted of the charges against him in court.)
  • Lee Magee of the Chicago Cubs was released just before the season began. Magee sued the Cubs for his 1920 salary and lost; after court testimony proved he had been involved in throwing games and collecting on bets, Landis banned him for life.
  • Heinie Groh of the Cincinnati Reds was banned for two days in 1921 while he held out for a higher salary, and Landis gave Groh an ultimatum: play for the Reds in 1921, or face lifetime banishment. (Groh chose the former option and played out the 1921 season; he retired in 1927.)
  • Ray Fisher of the Cincinnati Reds was banned in 1921 after he refused to play for the Reds; he had asked for his outright release when the Reds cut his salary by $1,000 (equal to $13,200 today), but the Reds refused to release him. (Fisher was hired by the University of Michigan to coach baseball later that year, and was reinstated by Commissioner Bowie Kuhn in 1980; he died in 1982.)
  • Dickie Kerr of the Chicago White Sox was banned for life in 1921 for playing exhibition games with former banned Black Sox players. Kerr had been a member of the 1919 Black Sox team, but he won both his starts in the contested 1919 World Series and was acquitted of involvement in the conspiracy. (Kerr was reinstated in 1925.)
  • Phil Douglas of the New York Giants was banned in 1922 after notifying an acquaintance on the St. Louis Cardinals that he planned to jump the Giants for the pennant stretch run to spite McGraw, with whom Douglas had had a severe falling out during the regular season.
  • Jimmy O'Connell of the New York Giants and Giants coach Cozy Dolan were banned in 1924 for offering Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Heinie Sand $500 (equal to $6,900 today) to throw a game between the two teams for the financial gain of O'Connell own and his gambler backers.
  • William B. Cox, Philadelphia Phillies owner, was banned in 1943 for betting on his team's games. (Cox and one of his predecessors, Horace Fogel, were both owners of the Phillies at different times and were both banned, making them thus far the only owners to be banned for life.)

People banned under Commissioner Bowie Kuhn[edit]

After Landis died in 1944, there was a long lull before the next banishment; indeed, during Bowie Kuhn's tenure (1969–1984), only three players (or former players) were banned for life.

People banned under Commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti[edit]

A. Bartlett Giamatti spent less than six months as Commissioner of Baseball before he died of a heart attack at his Florida home.

  • Pete Rose, manager of the Cincinnati Reds, was banned for life; Rose was investigated in 1989 for his alleged ties to gamblers; when new information on Rose's gambling habits came to light, Giamatti banned Rose. (While president of the National League in 1988, Giamatti had suspended Rose for thirty games for shoving an umpire during a heated argument.)

However, Giamatti granted Rose one concession: Rose could apply for reinstatement once a year for as long as he lived after ten years. Rose has subsequently applied for reinstatement four times; all four reinstatement requests have been rejected. After years of denial, Rose admitted that "everything" the Dowd Report contained was the complete, unadulterated truth.[4]

People banned under Commissioner Fay Vincent[edit]

Fay Vincent became commissioner upon the death of Giamatti.

  • George Steinbrenner, New York Yankees owner, was banned in 1990 for paying a private investigator $40,000 (equivalent to $72,000 in 2014) to "dig up dirt" on Yankees player Dave Winfield in order to discredit him; much of the information Steinbrenner received was from a small-time gambler and rackets-runner named Howard Spira, who had once worked for Winfield's charitable foundation. (In Steinbrenner's absence, Robert Nederlander, a limited partner, took control of the Yankees, and Joe Molloy, Steinbrenner's son-in-law, took control after Nederlander resigned.[5] Molloy relinquished the team back to Steinbrenner when Bud Selig reinstated him in 1993; Steinbrenner retired as owner in 2006, passing control to his sons permanently, and died in 2010.)
  • Steve Howe of the New York Yankees was banned in 1992 after receiving seven suspensions related to drug use, particularly cocaine and alcohol. (An independent arbiter reinstated Howe shortly after; Howe retired in 1996 and died in 2006.)

People banned under Commissioner Bud Selig[edit]

Bud Selig became Commissioner after Fay Vincent's resignation; he was Acting Commissioner between 1992–1998, and was elected to the Office of Commissioner in 1998.

  • Marge Schott, Cincinnati Reds owner, was banned in 1996 for bringing Major League Baseball into disrepute by repeatedly making slurs against African-Americans, Jews, Asians and homosexuals, and showing a sympathetic attitude to Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. (Schott had previously been fined $250,000 - equivalent to $408,000 in 2014 - and banned from day-to-day operations of the Reds for the 1993 season for similar offending; she was the first, and to date only, woman to be banned, and also the only person to have been banned solely for the content of his or her speech on a matter of public concern; she was reinstated in 1998, resigned as owner in 1999 and died in 2004.)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "MLB, MLBPA announce new drug agreement". MLBPA Official Press Release. 15 November 2005. Retrieved 21 July 2010. 
  2. ^ The New York Mutuals were a member of the National Association of Base Ball Players (which is not to be confused with the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players) at the time; the NABBP was not a major league.
  3. ^ Spokane Spokesman-Review, October 20, 1983, "Kuhn called off-base for Mantle, Mays bans".
  4. ^ Associated Press, March 16, 2007 "Rose admits to betting on Reds 'every night'"
  5. ^ Barnes, Craig (1992-02-25). "Yankees Make Molloy Chief Administrator". South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved 2012-09-05. 

External links[edit]