Top 5 Major League Baseball Controversies

June 6, 2014

Since the soccer World Cup is just around the corner, I was reading about Italy and how they overcame the infamous “Calciopoli” match fixing scandal to win the biggest title in the sport in 2006.

That is what made me think about some of the biggest controversies that have threatened to give Major League Baseball a bad name in the past. Yes, I am a big baseball fan, so I decided to go down memory lane and list the biggest controversies in the history of Baseball.

Here goes it:


1-The Babe Ruth transfer


Well yes, I know it wasn’t such a big controversial moment when it happened that a lot of people may think that it shouldn’t be on the list. But I think it does because it took the Boston-New York rivalry to the next level.

Babe Ruth is arguably the biggest name in baseball. He began his career with the Red Sox in 1914 and won three World Series and three pennants with them. He was the star, the talisman of one of the most successful baseball teams of that time. Normally owners would make sure that their biggest player stays with their team for as long as possible but Harry Frazee had other ideas.

Frazee sold Ruth to the Yankees who weren’t, believe it or not, setting ballparks on fire back then. The arrival of Ruth changed all that. The Yankees won four World Series titles and seven AL pennants before Babe Ruth left to play for the Boston Braves for a solitary season in 1935.

The sale of Ruth had a reverse effect on the Red Sox who went without winning the World Series for an incredible eight six years. The drought began to be known as the “Curse of the Bambino.” It was broken in 2004 and the Red Sox fought back from the 0-3 deficit to beat, their bitter rivals the Yankees to win their sixth World Series. What the Ruth’s transfer did was turn the animosity between the Yankees and the Red Sox into one of the most famous sports rivalries in Baseball.


2-The Pittsburgh drug trials


The Pittsburgh drug trials are arguably, the most shameful episode in Major League Baseball. The day was May 31, 1985 when the wheels were set in motion for a scandal that was to rock baseball to its core. Feds raised the house of Dale Shiffman, a photographer in connection with a drug business in Pittsburgh. His name was given to the authorities by Kevin Koch, the guy who was the Pirates Mascot.

Shiffman was the cocaine supplier while Koch used to deliver drugs to the players. The interrogation began and the name of players taking cocaine started coming out. It was an incredible list that included players who were playing and some who had retired.  The players were put on trial and it gripped the entire country in 1985. A total of eleven players were banned from the sport but astonishingly the bans were overturned in favor of drug testing, fines and community service.


3-Black Box scandal


The notorious 1919 World Series final between the Chicago White Sox and the Cincinnati Reds is a black mark on the game we all love. Arnold Gandil was the man who came up with the plan to fix and deliberately lose the series.

The White Sox were owned by Charles Comiskey and a lot of the players weren’t exactly huge fans of the guy. The player’s major gripe with Comiskey was his underpaying of players. Gandil asked players like Eddie Cicotte, Oscar Felch, Charles Swede and Claude Williams to join him.

Joe Jackson was also involved according to some accounts. Buck Weaver agreed to join them but later decided he didn’t want to be a part of it while Fred McMullin found out about the plan and blackmailed the people involved that he wanted the money too or he would make the information public.

All eight of these players were banned for life and strong message was sent out. No player has the right to fix games regardless of the reason.


4-Jackie Robinson’s signing


This has a different slant to it. We all know Jackie Robinson is the first black professional baseball player but his signing was controversial for a lot of people back in those days. Today no one will bat an eyelid if an African American player is signed by a baseball team but things were different when Robinson was signed. Very different.

The Brooklyn Dodgers president Branch Rickey signed Jackie Robinson and it created a storm. Robison became the first baseball player in history to break the color barrier. He had to cope with a lot as well. Opposition players and fans spit on him, even some of his teammates were resentful.

He had to put up with a lot of stick everywhere he went. Robinson also had to sign a contract that stipulated he would not react if anyone spit on him. He stuck to his word and never retaliated. Slowly but surely he won everyone over with his temperament and skill. What began as a controversial signing ended up being a breakthrough against a ‘taboo’ that had lasted for centuries.


5-The Pete Rose Scandal


It’s been twenty five years since Pete Rose, one of all time greats of baseball became one of its biggest villains. It was a staggering fall from grace for a player who was worshipped like a God everywhere he went.

Everyone knew Pete Rose was a gambler but no one thought he would gamble on the sport he was associated with. Bart Giamatti, the commissioner announced on August 24, 1989 that Rose has betted on baseball games so he will be banned for life.  To say it was a shock would be an understatement.

The charges amounted to his time as a player and manager of the Cincinnati Reds and it was found that not only did Rose bet on other baseball games but he also bet on his team losing. He denied the allegations for years but in 2004 admitted that he did indeed gamble on baseball games but never against the Reds.

What Pete Rose did, whether he bet against the Reds or not, was against the law and it has put an all time great under the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.

So this is our list. Let’s hear what you have to say now. Feel free to comment or, if you are in the mood, come up with your own list

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