Following are the results from THT's ethical scenario ranking "game", which was introduced in this article. The results are based on 35,000 rankings of two randomly selected ethical scenarios (an average of over 500 votes per scenario), compiled from August 7 through August 11, 2008. 'Rank' represents the percent of times each scenario was rated less ethical than another scenario, adjusted for the relative ethical rating of the alternatives presented. The higher the rank, the less ethical the scenario.
You can still vote on scenarios on the ethical ranking site and results will be updated periodically on this page. This material was developed for an American Studies course at Carleton College. The entire bibliography of sources is listed here.
|.964||Kill the ump||In a minor league game in 1899, one player took enormous exception to a call made by umpire Samuel White. The player took a swing, with his bat, at White's head. He connected. The umpire was killed. Violent attacks on umpires were frequent in the early era of baseball. (Gutman, p. 12)|
|.890||Segregation||No blacks were allowed to play in the organized Major Leagues of baseball from 1887 until Jackie Robinson put on a Dodgers' uniform in 1947.|
|.887||The fix||Although the Chicago Black Sox of 1919 are baseball's best-known team to have conspired with gamblers to throw games, there is a rich history of such behavior dating back to the 1850s. According to baseball author Cait Murphy, the first recorded baseball bet took place in 1858, and the first fixed game in 1865. Then there was the case of the Louisville Grays.
In 1877, the Grays were doing fine, when suddenly their play turned sour, and the talented team ended up finishing out of first place. It later came out that some team members had secretly worked with a gambling syndicate out of New York to throw the games. Four Louisville players were thrown out of baseball for good. There are scores of other examples of fixed games from baseball's early era. Salaries were much lower in those days, and every dollar made a difference to most of the players. (Murphy, pp. 278-284; Scheinin, p. 10, 34; Ray J. Smith)
|.874||Mutuals and Haymakers||In the early days of baseball, when salaries were low (or even dished out in secret), and the game more free-wheeling, gamblers often sought out players who would be willing to lose a key game in return for money. For example, in 1865, one unscrupulous gambler successfully bribed some players on the New York Mutuals to lose a game against the Brooklyn Eckfords. Eventually, the scheme was exposed and the players were thrown out of the league.
Just a few years later, they were back competing again. Similarly, in 1869, a team known as the Troy Haymakers conspired with gamblers to throw a game against their nemesis, the Red Stockings. That game triggered a riot. There are many other examples from the early era of baseball. Baseball analyst Bill James found that 38 different players were involved in scandals, often fixing games, in the time period between 1917-1927 alone. (Zumsteg, pp. 171-172, James, p. 136)
|.874||Early racism||The man widely thought to be the first black major league player was Moses Fleetwood Walker. The son of a physician and an erudite man himself, Walker had been a Latin and Greek scholar at Oberlin College before turning to pro ball in the 1870s. A catcher, Walker was routinely smashed into and otherwise physically abused by players on other teams. One time, the Chicago White Stockings, led by Cap Anson, threatened to refuse to take the field if Walker played. A sportswriter termed him "the coon catcher." Other black players of that era regularly heard taunts like "Kill the nig#@*r!" In 1887, the owners gathered in Buffalo, New York, and reached an informal agreement to keep blacks out of organized baseball. (Scheinin, pp. 44-46)|
|.873||Crooked Higham||There are many examples in which attempts were made to bribe umps to affect the outcome of games. This was particularly true in the early years of baseball. Salaries for both umpires and players were often barely enough to live on. Most players had second jobs in the off-season just to try to make ends meet. At least one umpire took the bribe; in 1882, umpire Dick Higham was thrown out of baseball for fixing games. (Zumsteg, p. 180-181; Murphy, pp. 284-287)|
|.857||Black Sox||The most publicized of the many game-throwing teams was the Chicago White Sox of 1919. Eight of these players were banned permanently from baseball for their alleged roles in conspiring with gamblers to "fix" the 1919 World Series. Books have been written about this complex and unhappy episode. Every player was acquitted in a court of law of any wrongdoing. It was unclear how involved each of the eight was.
Take the case of Shoeless Joe Jackson, an illiterate who admitted to taking $5,000 from the gamblers but batted .375 in the World Series with 6 RBIs, and played flawlessly in the field.
Then there was White Sox third-sacker Buck Weaver, who heard about the conspiracy and refused to participate, but nonetheless was banned because he did not rat out his teammates. There are dozens of other examples in which ballplayers conspired with gamblers to throw games, but none has achieved anywhere near the notoriety of the 1919 scandal. (Scheinin, pp. 175-177)
|.850||Bloody assault||The terrible rioting in the Watts area of Los Angeles in August of 1965, set the stage for an ugly incident in baseball. It took place in Los Angeles, in a game between the Giants and the Dodgers, and involved perhaps the two best pitchers in the National League that year, Sandy Koufax and Juan Marichal.
First, the Giants' Marichal knocked down Dodgers speedster Maury Wills with a threatening, inside pitch. As luck would have it, Marichal came to bat in the very next inning. Koufax kicked and delivered low. Dodgers catcher John Roseboro dug the inside fastball out of the dirt. When Roseboro flung the ball back to Koufax, the ball nicked the nose of Marichal, who went ballistic.
Marichal smashed Roseboro over the head three times in quick succession with his bat before being tackled by the home plate umpire. Roseboro left in a bloody mess. Black-and-white photographs of the assault are gruesome. Marichal was suspended for nine days and fined $1,750. There are other examples of assaults with bats. There have also been reported incidents of assaults with a catcher's mask. (Schenin, pp. 299-301.)
|.835||Father-son fighting||Here's how the Associated Press described the action when a father and son, both shirtless and out of control, decided to attack a first-base coach during a game in September, 2002:
With his eyes on home plate and his back to the seats, Tom Gamboa never saw them coming. One second, the Kansas City coach was standing near first base. The next he was slammed to the ground, a bare-chested father and his teenage son pummeling him. "I felt like a football team had hit me from behind. Next thing I knew, I am on the ground trying to defend myself," Gamboa said. "It just happened so fast." In a scene athletes have feared for years, Gamboa was attacked without warning by two fans who came out of the seats.There are many other examples in which fans have attacked, sometimes brutally, players or coaches in uniform. (I was stunned, Armour)
|.823||Umbrella spears||By the early 1900s, there was already great animosity between the Brooklyn squad and the Giants. Then the Brooklyn fans got into the act. When the Giants visited, Brooklyn supporters would climb up to the top of the apartment buildings near the park, and make spears from the metal spokes of their umbrellas. Then they would heave these self-made spears at the Giants outfielders. There are many other examples in which unruly fans hurled objects at ball players in the field of play. Take the time that Astros outfielder Bob Watson tried to chase down a ball in centerfield in a game played at Cincinnati in 1974. Watson smashed into the outfield wall and lay injured on the warning track. As he bled, partisan Reds' fans proceeded to dump beer on him. (Scheinin, pp. 99, 321)|
|.822||Hating Aaron||The use of nasty racial slurs has long been part of baseball's history. Such racial animosity reached a fever pitch in 1973 and 1974 when Hank Aaron, a black man, closed in on Babe Ruth's career record for home runs. Aaron was sent some 930,000 pieces of mail, much of it racist in nature, in 1973 alone. Among these missives were letters that included comments like "You may beat Ruth's record but there will always be only one Babe. You will be just another black f#*k down from the trees."
Other letters began "Hey nig#@*r boy," "Dear jungle bunny," and the like. Threats were made against Aaron's life. The federal government sent FBI agents to Fisk University in Nashville when a kidnapping threat was made against Aaron's daughter. An armed security guard protected Aaron at all times. Even in his home park in Atlanta, Aaron heard screams of "nig#@*r" constantly. Baseballs observers noted that when Aaron finally smacked home run number 700, and later broke Ruth's record with number 715, baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn, a white man, was inexplicably not present. (Scheinin, pp. 341-342)
|.821||Dark skin||During World War II, many players entered military service, and owners had to be creative to fill out their rosters. Take the case of Tommy de la Cruz, from Marianao, Cuba, who won nine games for the Cincinnati Reds in 1944. Unfortunately for de la Cruz, his skin pigment was dark. The powers-that-be in Major League baseball at the time finally decided that his skin was too dark to suit them. In short order, he was dropped from the Red's team and that was the end of de la Cruz's Major League career. (Bjarkman, p. 250)|
|.798||Tomato crate||There are many examples in which unruly fans hurled dangerous objects at ball players in the field of play. Take the case of Detroit Tigers catcher Birdie Tebbetts, who was visiting Cleveland for a game in the 1940s. A fan--sitting in the upper deck, no less--intentionally dropped a crate of tomatoes onto the head of Tebbetts, who was happily ensconced in the visitors' bullpen and never saw it coming. Tebbetts was knocked unconscious. (Scheinin, p. 242)|
|.789||Spike to injure||In the 1890s, Tommy Tucker, first baseman for Boston Beaneaters, tried to spike every base runner that went by, in a deliberate attempt to cause injury. Many, many others throughout baseball history, including notably the legendary Ty Cobb, have engaged in similar behavior.
Take the case of Dick Bartell, a scrappy, mean little shortstop whose 18-year career ended in 1941. Bartell had a well-earned reputation of trying to spike opposing player's hands around second base. One man whose hands Bartell stomped on was Harry Walker, who stood a full 6 feet 2 inches tall. Recalled Bartell, "I was kinda' sorry 'cause the groundskeeper had just sharpened my spikes that day but, boy, he never came close to me again."
Some were less obvious. Said speedster Maury Wills, "I think I spiked more guys than Ty Cobb. I did it in a way that appeared accidental. It wasn't." (Zumsteg, p. 5; Scheinin, p. 71-72, 206, 294; Shannon)
|.784||Klem is approached||Bill Klem was certainly one the best and most honest umpires ever and is today enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Klem was apparently approached with a bribe in 1908. The man who approached him was Joseph Creamer who, interestingly, worked as the Giants' team doctor. Creamer apparently tracked down Klem under the grandstand before a game and offered the ump a tidy amount of cash, $2,500. Klem, of course, told the doc to get lost.
According to Klem's account of the incident, the disreputable physician had this to say, "It's yours if you'll give the close decisions to the Giants and see that they win for sure. You know who is behind me and needn't be afraid of anything. You will have a good job for the rest of your life." Creamer, heretofore, had been the confidante of legendary Giants' skipper John McGraw.
Creamer later denied the incident ever happened; he was nonetheless thrown out of baseball for life. It remained unclear what role, if any, McGraw played in the episode. McGraw is also in the Baseball Hall of Fame today. There are many other examples in which attempts were made to bribe umps to affect the outcome of games. In 1960, for example, gamblers offering hefty bribes approached American League umps Bill McKinley and Ed Runge; they were rebuffed. (Zumsteg, p. 180-181; Murphy, pp. 284-287)
|.782||Head smash||During a 1921 pre-season game, feisty Tigers outfielder Ty Cobb got into a fight with umpire Billy Evans. It was a nasty scene. Cobb won the fight. He did so by continually smashing the umpire's head into the cement floor under the stands. Cobb split open Evan's eyebrow and cheek. Said Cobb, "I fight only one way, and that is to kill." The thrashing would have continued except a burly groundskeeper broke it up. Evans survived to arbitrate another day. Such fisticuffs were not unusual for many of baseball's early years. There are hundreds of similar examples of brutal and bloody fights in baseball. (Scheinin, p. 21, 170; Purdy, p. 412)|
|.770||Rose the gambler||In February of 1989, baseball hired attorney John Dowd to investigate whether Pete Rose, baseball's all-time hits leader, bet on baseball. Rose strongly and loudly denied doing so. Nonetheless, Dowd compiled overwhelming evidence that not only had Rose bet on baseball, he had also bet on his own team when he had managed the Reds.
In August of 1989, Rose was given a lifetime suspension from baseball, but admitted to no wrongdoing. He was given permission to reapply after one year but cannot enter the Hall of Fame, even today, unless and until he is readmitted. Rose later admitted that he is a compulsive gambler, and in 1990, pled guilty to failing to pay taxes on income earned during autograph sessions at baseball card shows. Rose, now a convicted felon, served five months in prison.
In 2004, in what was considered a none-too-subtle attempt to win admission to the Hall of Fame, Rose released a bizarre autobiography in which he finally admitted he had bet on baseball games but refused to apologize for his actions. Rose angered many by releasing the controversial book during the very same week in which the 2004 Baseball Hall of Fame members were officially being inducted into the hallowed shrine. The man known as "Charlie Hustle" is still not in the Hall of Fame today. (Scheinin, pp. 392-395; Zumsteg, pp. 206-213)
|.770||Noose||Efforts to intimidate umpires were commonplace in 19th century baseball. Both the fans and the players got into the game. There was one reported case in which a group of fans were clearly unhappy with the umpire's calls during a game. After the contest, the unruly fans took it upon themselves to stand outside the umpire's locker room, waiting for him to emerge. They took no pains to hide the fact that they had a noose. Eventually, the police had to be called. There are many other examples of umpires being not only threatened, but also physically attacked by fans and players alike. (Robert Smith, p. 91)|
|.755||Bow and arrow||Interfering with the other team's fielders on a batted ball near the front row is standard operating procedure for fans. Others actions involving fans have been more brutal. In 1887, for example, John McGraw was accused of trying to stir up the fans of his hometown Baltimore club to throw their beer bottles at the outfielders from opposing teams. Some hundred years later, little had changed. Explains Hall of Fame outfielder Dave Winfield, who retired in 1995 after a 22-year career,
Over the years, I've had fruit thrown at me, beer dumped in my face and been hit in the back by a baseball fired from the bleachers. In Yankee Stadium, I was in the outfield just minding my own business when suddenly an arrow pierced the ground next to me. Metal tip and everything. Inches into the ground. No way it could have gotten there without a bow. A bow? How did someone get a bow into Yankee Stadium?(Gutman, p. 111)
|.738||Pumpsie Green||When Branch Rickey signed Jackie Robinson in 1946 to eventually play for the Dodgers, the era of baseball integration had begun. But change came more quickly to some teams than others. Take the case of the Boston Red Sox, whose owner, Tom Yawkey, declined to sign both baseball greats Willie Mays and Hank Aaron. In fact, the Red Sox were the last team to employ a black player. They finally signed Pumpsie Green in July of 1959, a full dozen years after Robinson had broken down the color line. (Bjarkman, p. 296-297)|
|.730||Palmeiro's finger wag||Rafael Palmeiro was called to testify, under oath, about steroid use in Major League baseball, in front of the U.S. House of Representatives on March 17, 2005. He was subpoenaed after former teammate Jose Canseco wrote in his controversial book, "Juiced," that Palmeiro was among the many ballplayers who had used illegal steroids to try to gain an edge on the baseball field.
During his appearance before Congress, Palmeiro was unequivocal in stating that Canseco had it all wrong. Said Palmeiro in his now-famous testimony, "I have never intentionally used steroids. Never. Ever. Period." As he read his statement, Palmeiro wagged his finger at the congressmen for emphasis.
Just months later, Palmeiro was suspended by Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig for failing a drug test administered by Major League Baseball. It later came out that Palmeiro had tested positive for an illegal steroid. So much for his finger wagging. In July of 2005, Palmeiro had become just the fourth baseball player in history to collect 3,000 hits and 500 homeruns; The other three are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Eddie Murray. The 2005 campaign would be his last season. (Bodley)
|.724||Bonds' indictment||On Nov. 15, 2007, slugger Barry Bonds was indicted on five felony counts of perjury and obstruction of justice for allegedly lying when he testified before a Grand Jury that he had never knowingly used performance-enhancing drugs. If he is convicted on all counts, Bonds could face up to 30 months in prison, according to legal analysts. (The judge in the case recently asked prosecutors to rework the charges.)
Earlier, Bonds and his alleged use of steroids was the subject of an exhaustive investigative book, "Game of Shadows," written by two San Francisco Chronicle reporters. In that book, authors Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams lay out a richly detailed account of how Bonds began using steroids after the 1998 season and continued to use a wide-array of illegal, performance-enhancing drugs over the next few years. On Aug. 7, 2007, Bonds broke Hank Aaron's all-time home run record of 755; this was one of, if not the most respected records in baseball's storied history. (Black Sox; Williams and Ven Derbeken; Kroichick)
|.717||Ump intimidation||The following is a quote from American League umpire Joe Rue from the 1930s.
I've been mobbed, cussed, booed, kicked in the ass, punched in the face, hit with mud balls and whiskey bottles, and had everything from shoes to fruits and vegetables thrown at me. I've been hospitalized with a concussion and broken ribs. I've been spit on with lime and water.There are hundreds of other examples in which umpires were mentally and physically abused by fans, players and coaches. In fact, several interesting cartoons have been published depicting this sort of umpire abuse in newspapers from the late 1800s on into the first half of the 20th century. (Scheinin, pp. 200)
|.715||Mirrors||Flamboyant owner Bill Veeck was always looking for a home field advantage. During the late 1930s, he used one particularly dirty trick. Fans who came to his park were able to buy tiny, hand-held mirrors. The idea was they were supposed to try to reflect the sun directly into the eyes of the opposing team's batters. This was hardly a new concept in the 1930s. Four decades earlier, it was reported that fans would bring their own mirrors to the park and try to use them to distract the visiting team. (Gutman, p. 109; Zumsteg, p. 4)|
|.714||Steroids era||In December of 2007, former U.S. Senator George Mitchell released a 311-page report that implicated 89 players, including mega-all-stars Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds, in the use of illegal, performance-enhancing drugs. The exhaustive study, known as the "Mitchell Report," was summarized on the front-page of The New York Times:
In a biting indictment of Major League Baseball, the report used informant testimony to provide a richly detailed portrait of what Mr. Mitchell described as "baseball's steroids era."The report named names. Seven former MVPs were implicated, as were players from all 30 teams and more than 30 all-stars. The report was based on interviews with 700 people and included 115,000 pages of documents. The paper trail included all matter of receipts, telephone records, e-mail communications, and cancelled checks. Only one active player talked to Mitchell's investigators; the union that represented the Major League Baseball Players Union advised its membership to stonewall Mitchell and his team. (Wilson and Schmidt)
|.713||Crooked Cox||Of course, Pete Rose took much abuse, and reasonably so, for betting on his own team when he managed the Reds. He was summarily thrown out of baseball. But Rose's act was hardly original to baseball. In 1943, William D. Cox, the owner of the Phillies, was thrown out of baseball for life for not only betting on games, but, like Rose, betting on his own team. Cox said at the time that he did not know there was a rule against betting on his own team. (Thomas)|
|.710||Dangerous base paths||Shortly before he died, scrappy Hall of Famer John McGraw wrote a piece about dirty tricks during his heyday as a player. It comes off as a bit over-the-top but may, in fact, be representative of rough-and-tumble play in the 1890s:
There was a runner at first and he started to steal second. As he left the bag he spiked Dan Brouthers, our first baseman, on the foot. Brouthers retaliated by trying to trip him. He got away, but when he got to second, Heinie Reitz tried to block him off while Hughey Jennings covered the bag to take the throw and tag him out. The runner managed to evade Ritz and jumped at Jennings feet first in an attempt to drive him away from the bag. Jennings dodged the flying spikes and threw himself bodily at the runner, knocking the breath out of him.(McGraw, p. 8)
|.703||Bug||When the aggressive Leo Durocher managed the Cubs in the late 1960s, he thought he could gain an edge by knowing what strategies the other team planned to employ in the upcoming game. So he surreptitiously had a listening device, more commonly known as a "bug," hidden in the opposing team's locker room at Wrigley Field. Other teams soon got wind of this subterfuge. The Giants decided to get even. They purposely and loudly spread misinformation at closed team meetings as to how they planned to pitch to the Cubs. Or at least so claimed notorious trickster Gaylord Perry. (Dickson, pp. 128-129; Baseball's 'winning edge')|
|.701||Buried wire||In 1898, in Philadelphia, the Reds were the visiting team one day when their shortstop, a player named Tommy Corcoran, found that his spikes got all tangled up in the dirt around third base. After some digging about, he found a buried wire and proceeded to try to rip it out. The scheme quickly was exposed. Philadelphia had strung the wire from the clubhouse--out beyond the outfield--where a substitute player, Morgan Murphy, monitored pitch calls with binoculars. He then used the wire to signal, via Morse code, the third base coach, who in turn alerted the batter if a fastball or curve was on the way. There are many other examples of using technology to steal or relay signs, or otherwise gain advantage. (Zumsteg, p. 35; Gutman, pp. 88-89; Kernan; Corcoran Discovery; Exposed at Last)|
|.683||Avoiding arrest||In 1919, notorious headhunting pitcher Carl Mays of the Boston Red Sox got annoyed with one particularly unruly fan in Philadelphia. Mays took out his annoyance by whipping a baseball into the stands, hitting the fan. A warrant was quickly issued for the arrest of Mays. Red Sox management was not about to leave Mays' fate in the hands of the Philadelphia authorities. They snuck him out of town, thereby apparently abetting in the avoidance of his arrest. Then the Boston club quickly traded Mays to the New York Yankees. (Scheinin, p. 141)|
|.681||Extra ball||There are many examples from baseball's early years in which a ballplayer carried an extra ball in the pockets of his pants, or hid one in the high outfield grass, just in case. The logic was that if the actual game ball went over his head or was otherwise hard to locate, the ball player could deftly substitute the other ball while hoping that the lone ump didn't notice. Matters got quite confusing when two crafty outfielders failed to coordinate with each other. In one such instance from baseball's early years, two Oriole outfielders each fired balls back to the infield at the same time. The umpire was unimpressed with their duplicity; he decided to award the game to their opponents, the St. Louis Browns. (Gutman, p. 4, 196; Wulf)|
|.679||Bought and sold||Throughout most of baseball's storied history, owners made large profits off of baseball, but the players themselves were bound to their teams. This was known as the reserve clause. A player had to re-sign with his team, and could only change teams if he were released or traded. This left the players with no leverage to negotiate contracts. The best a player could do was to hold out. But that strategy had limited effectiveness in that the player had no choice but to re-sign or leave baseball.
No surprise, the players were often exploited by owners who colluded to keep salaries low. Baseball star Curt Flood attempted to battle the reserve clause in the late 1960s. He was traded from St. Louis to Philadelphia but refused to report to the Phillies. Instead he demanded that he be made a free agent. In a 1969 letter to Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, Flood wrote, "After twelve years in the major leagues, I do not feel I'm a piece of property to be bought and sold irrespective of my wishes."
Flood took Kuhn to court, eventually losing in a 5-3 Supreme Court decision. Flood never played baseball again but he paved the way for others. The reserve clause was finally over-ruled in 1975.
|.676||Back pocket||A different sort of hidden ball trick unfolded on Oct. 10, 1925, and involved Ken Berry, the quick-thinking White Sox outfielder. A ball was lined over his head, and Berry dove into the stands in an effort to steal a homerun away from the hitter. He didn't catch the game ball, but instead slyly pulled an extra ball out of his back pocket, shoved it into his glove, and emerged triumphantly from the bleachers with a ball in hand. The umpire, who had missed the sleight of hand, ruled the batter out. There are many other examples in which a ballplayer carried an extra ball in the pockets of his pants, or hid one in the high outfield grass, just in case. (Gutman, p. 4, 196; Wulf)|
|.644||Nip the nap||One of the rowdier players of the 19th century was a Cleveland Spiders third baseman named Chippy McGarr. He found himself playing against Boston one day, whose resident speedster Billy Hamilton once stole 150 bases in a single season. When Hamilton was rounding third against the tough-nosed Spiders, according to an account by baseball historian Robert Smith, McGarr, "'nipped the nap' of Billy's shirt in one swift grab, and sent Billy flying into a sudden somersault that landed him up against the grandstand." Such attacks on runners were commonplace at that time, and many such incidents have been reported. (Robert Smith, p. 88)|
|.644||Clemens' FBI referral||On Feb. 28, 2008, the FBI announced that it had opened a criminal investigation into whether Roger Clemens committed perjury when he repeatedly denied in front of U.S. Congress that he had used steroids or human growth hormone (HGH). Clemens, one of the greatest pitchers ever with 354 career victories, completed his 24th Major League season in 2007. Nonetheless, the bureau's announcement came after Clemens and his former trainer, Brian McNamee, gave completely different versions as to Clemens' alleged use of illegal drugs.
Clemens maintained, under oath, that the trainer had only given him a painkiller and Vitamin B-12. McNamee--Clemens' primary accuser--said he had injected Clemens on as many as 20 different occasions with steroids and HGH. The congressmen requested that Clemens be investigated for perjury, but, interestingly, did not request a similar FBI investigation of McNamee. It remains unclear how this ugly episode will affect Clemens' chances of being inducted into the Hall of Fame. (Baumbach and Kessler)
|.638||Belt grab||Legendary Baltimore Orioles third baseman John McGraw played in the rough-and-tumble era of the 1890s. There was only one umpire per game in this era, and he couldn't see everything. McGraw used to grab the belt of the runner on third, or try to trip him or knock him down, when there was a hit to the outfield and the umpire's back was turned.
In a humorous aside, note the time that Louisville's Pete Browning, aware of McGraw's tricks, was on third when a sacrifice fly was lofted into the outfield. Browning quickly unbuckled his belt. McGraw, who didn't know it was unbuckled, grabbed the back of the belt. After tagging up, Browning scored easily. McGraw was left at third, alone and embarrassed, gripping the belt. There are many other examples of foul play on the base paths from baseball's early years. (Zumsteg, pp. 7-9; Scheinin, pp. 71-74; McGraw)
|.637||Super balls||Somebody, to be sure, sawed off the end of the bat, hollowed the bat out, shoved super-balls into the bat, and then reattached the top of the bat so nobody would notice. Yankee third baseman Graig Nettles got caught with this bat on Sept. 7, 1974, in a game versus the Tigers. Nettles slugged one long home run in this game. In Nettles' next plate appearance, however, the bat broke and six small super balls went bouncing all over the infield. Nettles claimed no wrongdoing. He explained that when he had earlier been in Chicago, an unknown fan of the Yankees had offered him the bat as a gift. "I didn't know there was anything in the bat," he told The New York Times. "That was the first time I used it." There are many other examples during which ball players used illegal bats in an effort to gain an edge. Many have been caught. Many more, it's safe to assume, have not. (Gutman, pp. 201-201; Yankees Split)|
|.633||The Tack||Seattle pitcher Rick Honeycutt was long suspected of illegally scuffing balls to try to gain an advantage on the hitter. During the 1980 season, fleet-footed Royals centerfielder Willie Wilson lined a triple off of Honeycutt, and then carefully scrutinized the pitcher's every move from his vantage point at third base. After the third out, Wilson suggested to the umpiring crew that they check out Honeycutt's glove. The umpire's inspection revealed that Honeycutt had taped a sharp tack onto his finger inside his glove. He was chucked out of the game and dished out a 10-game suspension.
There are many similar examples of using foreign objects to illegally scuff balls. Some catchers--notably Elston Howard--have been known to scuff the ball on their (sharpened) shin guards when the umpire is not looking. (Zumsteg, p. 153)
|.625||Grimsley's crawl||It all started with a tip. White Sox manager Gene Lamont had gotten word that Indians slugger Albert Belle was using a corked bat, which is illegal. In a July 15, 1994, game at Comiskey Park in Chicago, Lamont asked the umpires to remove Belle's bat from the game to be inspected later. Any manager can make this request and it must be honored.
The umpires took Belle's bat and carefully locked it up in the umpire's dressing room. The bat was corked, a fact known not just to Belle but also his teammates. Belle, the Indians best hitter, was in for a certain suspension. That is when Indians pitcher Jason Grimsley stepped in. He disappeared into the Indians locker room, took out a removable tile from the ceiling, and then crawled some 100 feet atop the cinder block walls to the umpires' locker room. All the while, Grimsley was toting a small yellow flashlight and a cork-free bat that belonged to another Indian player, Paul Sorrento.
Grimsley managed to avoid the piping and wires en route, and switched the two bats before the game was over. But he made one mistake; the new bat had Sorrento's name on it in big letters. Police were called in and the Sox threatened to press charges. It wasn't until five years later that Grimsley, who by then was pitching for the Yankees, confessed to his role in the caper. Grimsley stands 6 feet 3 inches, and weighs 180 pounds. (Olney)
|.622||Otis' admission||Amos Otis stole 341 bases in his 17-year career before retiring in 1984. Otis, known more for his speed than power, did manage to sock 193 homeruns. Later, he admitted that he had cheated by stuffing both cork and super balls into his bat throughout his long Major League tenure, mostly with the Royals. "I had enough cork and Super Balls in there to blow away anything," Otis later said. "Over my career, it probably meant 193 home runs for me." There are many other examples in which players used cork, or superballs, illegally in their bats. But Otis may be the only player known to have admitted to using both. (Gutman, p. 70.)|
|.616||Corking||Norm Cash, a lifetime .271 hitter, won the American League batting title in 1961 with a .361 average. He later admitted that he had corked his bat during his career. Corking is illegal. He even brazenly posed for pictures in Sports Illustrated in 1981 demonstrating how he had corked his bats during his playing days.
Essentially, Cash cut off the top of the bat, used a hand-held drill to hollow out top few inches of the bat, shoved cork down inside, and finally glued the top back on. This illegal tampering with the bat serves to increase the hitter's bat speed. There are dozens more examples of illegal corking. In an anonymous poll of major leagues conducted by the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper in 2003, more than 25% answered "yes" to this question: If you were told you could hit a game-winning homer in the World Series with a corked bat, with a guarantee never to be exposed, would you do it? (Zumsteg, pp. 120-121; Bat Inspection; Wulf; Baseball's winning edge,' Manoloff)
|.609||Schott's mouth||Throughout most of baseball's history, nasty name-calling and offensive ethnic slurs were daily occurrences. There were effectively no limits on the scope of derogatory comments which bench jockeys hurled at Jews, Italians, Irish, dark-complexioned players or other groups. Even every-day nicknames, printed in the newspapers, could be mean-spirited. A deaf player was called "Dummy." A fat player went by "Blimp." A fellow with a large nose was called "Schnozz." And so on.
To be sure, vicious name-calling was far more commonplace in the U.S. in the early days of baseball, and has been greatly tamped down in the current politically correct era. Still, consider that Reds owner Marge Schott once called Eric Davis, an all-star outfielder on her payroll, a "million-dollar nig#*@r." Schott's offensive comments took place in 1993. (Zumsteg, p. 88; Scheinin, p. 371; James, pp. 157-158)
|.607||Nails||Ted Kluszewski, slugger for the Cincinnati Reds, had quite a run from 1953 to 1956. During those four memorable seasons, he slammed 171 home runs, while striking out only 140 times. It later came out that he had banged nails into his bat to make the ball go further. Altering the bat in this fashion is illegal. There are many other examples in which a batter illegally altered a bat to try to gain advantage. (Gutman, p. 137+, photo caption.)|
|.597||Ventilation||Dave Ericson, superintendent of the Metrodome in the 1980s, tried to use the ventilation system to help his home team, the Minnesota Twins. He tried to blow air out toward the fences when the Twins were batting, and in from the outfield when the opposing team was at the plate. A clever strategist, he particularly liked to employ this strategy in the late innings of close games. Eight years after he left his post with the Twins, Ericson confessed all in an interview with the Minneapolis Star-Tribune: "If they (the Twins) were down two runs and you're hoping for them to have the advantage, you'd want to be blowing all the air out and up as much as you can."
Other teams suspected as much. One time, visiting Rangers manager Bobby Valentine tried his own science experiment at the Metrodome. He hung a strip of white tape right in front of an air conditioning duct, but a Twins coach quickly ripped it off. It is unclear whether Ericson's machinations were effective. (Zumsteg, pp. 25-26; Furst)
|.592||Walkie-talkies||The White Sox once placed a radio transmitter in pitcher Early Wynn's ball cap so he could secretly get advice on the mound from his manager. Such communication is prohibited. Walkie-talkies and closed-circuit cameras have also been used for secret communications. Former manager Jack McKeon once secretly installed a radio transmitter in his pitcher's shirt. There are many other examples of using technology to communicate on the sly or otherwise gain advantage. (Zumsteg, p. 35; Gutman, pp. 88-89; Kernan; Corcoran Discovery; Exposed at Last)|
|.582||Wide lines||In June of 2000, the Atlanta Braves were caught drawing the lines for the catcher's box wider than they were legally allowed to be. Why? So that the Braves' catchers could set up outside, and get more called strikes from the home plate umpire. Recall that this Braves team had control pitchers (think Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine) who were known for keeping the ball on the corners of the plate. In baseball vernacular, this is called "painting the corners of the plate." Interestingly, it was the Braves' own television crew that had "outed" the subterfuge. They regaled their viewers with before-and-after shots of the catcher's box from earlier games. (Zumsteg, pp. 23-24)|
|.578||Aiding and abetting||Long time Detroit Tiger Ty Cobb was an aggressive, bullying, fighting racist, and one of the most hated men in baseball. His unpopularity probably cost him the 1910 batting championship. With two days left in that season, Cobb was batting .383, well ahead of Nap Lajoie, whose average stood at .375. Supremely confident that the title was already his, Cobb took off the last two days of the 1910 campaign.
Lajoie's St. Louis Browns, meanwhile, were matched up against the Cleveland Indians in a double-header on the final day of their season. The Indians stuck in a rookie at third for those games. Tribe manager, Jack O'Connor, told this rookie, Red Corriden, to play out in short leftfield whenever Lajoie stepped to the plate. In effect, Corriden was inviting Lajoie to bunt in front of him for easy singles. No surprise, Lajoie laid down a lot of bunts. He went an amazing eight-for-nine to win both the batting title, and the splashy Chalmers automobile that was given to the league's top batsman.
Among the many folks who sent Lajoie congratulations on his batting title (via telegram) were Cobb's own teammates. There are other examples in which it appeared that a player, or entire team, abetted an opponent who was locked in a one-on-one battle for some individual honor with an unpopular player. (Scheinin, p. 150)
|.567||Soap chips||It was reported in the 1890s that Tom Murphy, a groundskeeper in Baltimore, liked to mix some soap chips in the dirt around the pitcher's area. Pitchers often rub their hands in the dirt between pitches. Unsuspecting pitchers from out of town would end up with slippery, soapy hands, and have trouble gripping the ball. Of course, the Baltimore pitching staff knew which areas around the mound to avoid.
Then there was the supposedly gentlemanly Connie Mack, who used to have his crews build up the mound higher than regulations allowed. This aided his pitching staff, whose members tended to throw lots of fastballs. The higher the mound, the more zip on their pitches. There are many other examples in which the home team groomed the mound to favor their own pitchers or to hinder the opposition's. (Zumsteg, p. 5, 22; Schlossberg)
|.566||Freezing||In the 1950s, the Chicago White Sox generally benefited from strong pitching staffs but suffered under the weight of weak-hitting line-ups. To try to take advantage of this situation, the White Sox took to secretly freezing the game balls before home games. Of course, the team would take the balls out of the freezers a few hours before the games so as to not arouse suspicion. Cleverly, the mildewed boxes that housed the new balls were replaced with brand new boxes before the game balls were handed over to the umpiring crews. But the damage had been done.
Their logic was that the freezing process would deaden the cork and rubber inside the hard balls, causing the batted balls not to travel as far or fast. This subterfuge would offset the other teams' better hitting, or so the Sox hoped. This was hardly a new development. Hall of Fame manager Connie Mack reportedly used to freeze baseballs and sneak them out to his pitchers in the 1890s. There are many other examples of storing game balls in unusual environments to try to gain an edge. (Zumsteg, p. 144; Scheinin, p. 66, Falls.)
|.565||Sosa corks||Slugger Sammy Sosa is fifth on the all-time home run list with 609. As the 2008 season was set to begin, Sosa only trailed Bonds, Aaron, Ruth and Mays. Did he cheat? On June 3, 1998, in a game against the Devil Rays, Sosa's bat broke into pieces after he lined a single. Umpires checked the cracked bat. They quickly noticed that it was corked, and tossed Sosa out of the game. Putting cork inside a hollowed-out bat is illegal.
Sosa later claimed that he always kept one corked bat for batting practice, to try to put on a dramatic show before the game for his legions of admiring fans. He said he had accidentally used the wrong bat in the Devil Rays game. All his other bats were inspected; none was corked. There are many other examples in which players have been caught with, or admitted to using, a corked bat. (Zumsteg, pp. 128-129)
|.564||Thomson's shot||Perhaps the most famous home run ever hit was Bobby Thomson's "shot heard round the world" which won the 1951 National League pennant for the Giants, and capped one of the most historic comebacks by any team in baseball history.
With two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning in the last game of the winner-take-all playoff, Thomson lined the 3-run shot off the Dodgers' Ralph Branca, and propelled the Giants to a 5-4 victory. With that single homer, Thomson secured his own place in the annals of baseball history.
Then, five decades later, Wall Street Journal reporter Joshua Harris Prager revealed in a shocking front-page story that Thomson knew which pitch was coming. It turns out that the Giants had been stealing the Dodgers' signs all game, and relaying the pitch type to the batter before each offering. They used a spyglass to read the catcher's signs, and a complex bell-and-buzzer system to alert both the dugout and the bullpen. And, the 2001 story revealed, the Giants had been stealing signs in this underhanded manner for the final two-and-a-half months of the remarkable 1951 season. Such sign stealing had been going on in baseball for many decades, but never before had the subterfuge figured in such an historic at-bat. (Prager; Daniel)
|.562||Indian eyes||In 1876, the Hartford Dark Blues actually dangled a little shack from a telegraph pole, conveniently situated just outside their home field. They then cleverly used this shack to signal batters as to what pitch the catcher had called for. We're not sure exactly how but the idea was that the batters could look at the shack and know what type of pitch was coming.
There are many such examples over the years. These schemes involved, variously, hunting rifles, binoculars, wooden slats, and hand-operated scoreboards. The schemes generally worked along these lines: A team would secretly station a spotter somewhere beyond the outfield. The spotter would peer in at the catcher's signals with the aid of field glasses or something similar. The spotter would then subtly relay the next pitch type to the batter through discreet means. One example: In Detroit, a large Indian head was mounted on an advertisement. The Tigers stole the signs by use of a spotter in the scoreboard, and then moved the Indian's eyes to indicate what type of pitch was coming. If the Indian's eyes went down, a change-up was coming. Sideways meant a curveball, and no eye movement at all, a fastball. (Zumsteg, p. 35; Stone; Clever Murphy)
|.557||Hip check||In the 1890s, Tommy Tucker used what ice hockey players now call a "hip check" to push runners off first base. He would then quickly tag them out before the ump could figure out why the runner was no longer standing safely at first. This move has withstood the test of time, although today's pushy fielders must additionally worry about being caught by the myriad of television cameras at the ballpark.
Consider the actions of Twins first baseman Kent Hrbek in the second game of the 1991 World Series. According to one published report, Hrbek "used an elegant maneuver involving his hip, thigh and glove to get sufficient leverage to pull (Ron) Gant off, making it appear to the ump behind him that Gant's momentum carried him off but making his intentions obvious to the viewers who got a perfect angle from the third base camera line." The umpire in question, Vic McMahon, called Gant out. There are many other examples in which a fielder attempted to manhandle a runner off the safety of the base. (Zumsteg, p. 8; Fuller, Page 2; Scheinin, p. 63)
|.551||McGwire evades||Mark McGwire retired in 2001 with 583 career homeruns, which now places him eighth on the all-time homerun list. The massive and affable slugger was much adored during his playing days. Nonetheless, he was called to testify in front of the U.S. House of Representatives Government Reform Committee on March 17, 2005. The topic was steroid use in Major League Baseball. McGwire repeatedly gave evasive answers when asked about his own steroid use. McGwire happily admitted under oath that, "there has been a problem with steroid use in baseball." But when queried about his own possible usage of illegal drugs, McGwire kept reverting to, "I'm not here to discuss the past," or "I'm here to be positive about the subject." Despite his many homeruns and accomplishments, McGwire has heretofore been snubbed by the Hall of Fame electors. It's widely assumed that his non-answers in front of U.S. Congress have reasonably cost him selection to the Hall to date. (Black Sox; Sheinin)|
|.548||Head hunting||As long as pitchers and hitters have tried to establish who's in control, pitchers have thrown up and in, to back batters off the plate. Sometimes they throw at their heads. Perhaps the best known of the head hunters was Sal Maglie. He was simply called "The Barber" because, according to the legend, he could shave a man with his high-and-tight heater. After Maglie retired, he had this to say in a 1959 feature article in Cavalier:
Why didn't I throw at, say, batters' chests, instead of their heads? I threw at the head because I knew that a batter could see a pitch up around his face better than he could see a pitch to any other spot. It's no trick to hit a batter in the ribs. Any pitcher with decent control can do it. It's a bigger target than the head and, besides, it's a lot tougher for a batter to move his head than his body. So I aimed at the head. The pitch served my purpose.Hundreds of other pitchers have used a similar tactic--throwing at batters' heads--over the years because it served their purpose. (Scheinin, pp. 288-289)
|.540||Emery board||Many opposing players and managers thought that knuckleballer Joe Niekro illegally scuffed the ball. In a game in August of 1987, Niekro, then pitching for the Twins, was humming along on the mound, when the umpires visited him. Home plate umpire Tim Tschida, ordered him to empty out the pockets of his uniform. Niekro complied, even going so far as to turn his uniform's pants pockets inside out. When he did so, an emery board and a small sliver of sandpaper fell to the grass. In short order, an unapologetic Niekro was tossed from the game. He later explained that he hadn't been cheating at all: "Being a knuckleball pitcher," he said, "I sometimes have to file my nails between innings." There are many similar examples in which players apparently used foreign objects to illegally scuff balls. (Zumsteg, p. 155; "Niekro Rejects," Green)|
|.536||Telescope||Cleveland Indians Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller served as a gunnery officer in World War II. In 1948, he used a telescope from his soldiering days to steal the opposing catcher's signs, and then relay them to the Indians' hitters before each pitch. He mounted the telescope on a tripod in the scoreboard at the Indians' home park. Although legal by baseball rules at the time, such activity was not considered proper.
In his insightful 1912 book, Christy Mathewson, one of baseball's true gentleman and a pitching legend, explained, "All's fair in love and war, except stealing signs dishonestly." There are many other examples in which technology was used to steal the catcher's signals and then to relay the pitch type to the batter before the next pitch. It was not until 1961 that the use of electronics to steal signs was banned in Major League baseball. (Dickson, pp. 91-92; Cook)
|.536||Move the rope||The supporters of the Cubs helped their home team during the early years of the 20th century. There were no outfield fences during this era. Instead, visitors to the ballpark stood behind a rope around the outfield. Of course, when the Cubs were at bat, the fans would crowd forward, moving the rope in, and shortening the field. When the visitors were batting, the fans would pull the rope back. There are many other examples in which fans have served to help the home team. One way they have done so is to interfere with the opposing team's fielders who are trying to catch a fly ball near the front row of the stands. (Gutman, p. 110)|
|.535||Hit 'em all||In 1974, Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Dock Ellis took matters into his own hands when he thought his lackluster team needed to get fired up. On May 1 of that year, Ellis squared off with the Cincinnati Reds. He plunked first three batters up--in the ribs, kidney and back. He tried to hit Tony Perez next, who nimbly managed to avoid four inside offerings, and walked in a run. Ellis threw the next two pitches right at the head of Johnny Bench, who managed to duck out of the way. At this point, Pirates manager Danny Murtaugh visited the mound and took Ellis out of the game. It turned out that Ellis had confided in teammates during spring training that the next time he faced the Reds, he was "going to hit those motherf@*#ers." (Scheinin, p. 334.)|
|.535||Tobacco retribution||Bill Carrigan, the tough-nosed, tobacco-chewing catcher for Boston from 1906 to 1916, didn't take kindly to players from opposing teams sliding home on his watch. He had a reputation for spitting tobacco juice on the face of runners who had just scored, and happened to find themselves in the vulnerable position of lying in the dirt under the vengeful eyes of the no-nonsense catcher. (Robert Smith, p. 91)|
|.532||Roll back||Using tobacco juice to doctor a ball is a time-honored, if illegal, baseball tradition. Take the case of legendary spitballer Lew Burdette, who pitched in the 1950s and 1960s. Burdette liked to hide his tobacco juice in subtle little piles around the mound. When he needed an "out" pitch, he'd simply bend over, tie his shoes, and load up the ball. But Burdette had one more facet to his underhanded scheme: When suspicious umps demanded to see the baseball, he'd politely roll it over the grass to them, thereby eliminating any evidence of wrongdoing. The juice would come off in the grass. (Zumsteg, p. 28)|
|.529||Boxing career||In 1929, the Chicago White Sox had a first baseman who went by the name of Art "The Great" Shires. He apparently had trouble getting along with White Sox manager Lena Blackburn. It was reported that Shires actually beat up his manager on three different occasions. Later, Shires went on a boxing tour. (Scheinin, p. 164)|
|.523||Pine tar||Lanky Cardinals reliever Julian Tavarez was caught with pine tar on his hat in 2004. He was given an eight-day suspension. There are many other examples of pitchers getting caught on the mound with pine tar hidden somewhere--on their hands, in their gloves, on their uniforms.
One of the most high profile examples took place in the second game of the 2006 World Series. Tigers starting pitcher Kenny Rogers came out to pitch the first inning, with an unknown, brownish substance on the palm of his left hand. He's a lefty. The opposing manager, Tony La Russa of the Cards, complained quietly to the umpiring crew, and the smudge was gone before the second inning got underway. LaRussa raised eyebrows by not insisting that Rogers be tossed, raising speculation that his own pitchers might also be cheating.
After the game, Rodgers gamely told sportswriters that, "It was dirt and rosin put together." Nonetheless, television producers rolled out footage of Rodgers from earlier in the season with a similar smudge in the same location that looked suspiciously like pine tar. Rogers was 41 at the time. Some pitchers begin experimenting with illegal pitches as they age, and lose some zip off their fastball. (Zumsteg, pp. 158-160)
|.517||Bubble gum||Dodgers' hurler Clyde King was pitching in a game in 1951 when he was surprised that the game ball was returned to him by a teammate with bubble gum stuck to it. King later explained, "I was pitching for Brooklyn against the Giants and Whitey Lockman was up with two outs and two on in the ninth. The pitch I threw to strike him out had three pieces of bubble gum on it." Added King, "I don't know how they got there, but when (Dodgers catcher Roy) Campanella caught it, he fired it out into left field before anybody could look at it." There are many other examples of foreign substances being illegally applied to pitched balls in an effort to gain an edge. (Zumsteg, p. 145)|
|.517||Mudball||Gaylord Perry admitted in his colorful autobiography "Me and The Spitter" that he had first thrown the illegal spit ball during his rookie year, in 1964, and that since then, he had tried "the mudball, the emeryball, the K-Y ball, the Vaselineball and the sweatball, just to name a few. During the next eight years or so I reckon I tried everything on the old apple but salt and pepper and chocolate sauce toppin'."
To be sure, Perry liked to gain a psychological advantage over batters; whether his balls were doctored or not, he wanted opposing batters to worry about whether an illegal pitch just might be coming down the pike. Perry's book was published in 1974. He retired in 1983. Perry is in the Hall of Fame today. (Gaylord Perry's confession)
|.514||Movable fences||Cleveland Indians owner Bill Veeck liked finding ways to gain an edge in his home park. One way he did this in the old Cleveland Municipal Stadium was to have movable fences. He had his grounds crew use a series of sockets so that they could move the outfield fences in or out at six different possible locations, depending on which team was coming to town. The fences were discreetly moved the night before a game. For example, if the visitors had a power-hitting line-up, the fences would be moved as far away from home plate as possible. This was hardly a new concept. There are many examples in which a team adjusted its fences to try to help out a right- or left-handed power hitter. (Gutman, pp. 108-109)|
|.509||Grooving||Some players "groove" bats to try to gain an edge. It is illegal. Players will cut long grooves into the bat, going with the wood's grain. Why? They believe the grooves will create backspin, and allow their batted ball to fly farther through the air. Among players who have been called out for using a grooved bat after hitting a home run are Bill Buckner and Ted Simmons, both in 1975. There are many other examples of illegal grooving. (Zumsteg, pp. 115-116)|
|.508||Spitball||The spitball was officially outlawed in 1920 for reasons of hygiene. But 17 known spitballers were grandfathered in and continued to throw the pitch legally for some time, including Hall of Famer Burleigh Grimes.
Still, hundreds of pitchers have been accused of throwing illegal spitballs since 1920. That list includes many of baseball's finest pitchers, including Gaylord Perry, Jim Bunning, Vida Blue, Whitey Ford, Ferguson Jenkins, Tommy John, Phil Niekro and Don Drysdale. In 1963, Phillies manager Gene Mauch estimated that at least 25% of National League pitchers employed the spitball.
"I never threw the spitter," claimed Whitey Ford, who then added, "well, maybe once or twice when I needed to get a guy out really bad." Another Hall of Famer, Ted Williams, said that "Mike Garcia threw one at me one time, and the spit came up and hit me in the eye." Absent proof, which is hard to come by on the baseball diamond, umpires have had a hard time clamping down on spitballers. (Gutman, pp. 16-45; Leggett; Durso)
|.506||Rain delay||The Tigers had fallen behind in a game against the Brewers on Aug. 1, 1972. The rain started in the 4th inning. The Tigers were hoping that the game would be cancelled before it became official. So they brazenly delayed. And delayed. One of the Tiger's outfielders intentionally did not catch an easy fly ball. The Tiger's pitcher made repeated throws to first even though the base runner had taken no lead. Not to be outdone, the Brewers tried to allow themselves to be tagged out, but the Tigers refused to apply the tag. The game went into the 6th inning, and later, the umpires who had worked the game, recommended that both managers be fined for making a mockery of the sport.
There are many such examples of teams trying to delay (or speed up) a game with a watchful eye towards the weather. Games become official after the fifth inning has been played (or after 4 1/2 innings if the home team is ahead); otherwise, a rained-out game is erased and must be replayed another day with the score, once again, 0-0. (Zumsteg, p. 59)
|.505||Sand pit||Maury Wills was a base-stealing speedster for the Dodgers in the 1960s. When he visited the Giants, he found the area around first base was so wet that he couldn't get any traction if trying to steal second. It turned out that the Giants' grounds crew had so watered down the area around first base that it was like a mud pit. One time, an observant umpire, Tom Gorman, stopped play for some 90 minutes to allow time for the soggy areas to dry out.
A related scheme: The Giants once dumped mounds of sand between first and second to try to slow Wills down. The ploy was exposed and the sand removed. There are many other such documented examples from baseball history in which grounds crews altered the base paths in some fashion to favor the home team. (Zumsteg, pp. 24-25)
|.501||Slippery elm||One of the most oft-mentioned of the many pitchers with reputations for illegally doctoring the ball was Phil Regan. In a game against the Reds on August 18, 1968, the clever right-hander didn't get much help from umpire Chris Pelekoudas. At least once during that contest, the ump allowed a batter who had made an out to come back to the plate and try again--when the last pitch had merely looked dubious. Then Regan got on base, and had a collision at home plate with the Reds catcher.
Shortly thereafter, the Reds pitcher, George Culver, suddenly announced that he had found both a tube of Vaseline and some slippery elm tablets near home. Regan claimed these items had secretly planted there by the Reds to embarrass him. Slippery elm tablets (similar to a throat lozenge in that they thicken the saliva) were hardly a new concept to baseball. More than 100 years earlier, in 1863, Alphonse "Phonnie" Martin was accused of doctoring a ball with slippery elm when pitching for the Eckford nine in Brooklyn. There are many other examples of the illegal use of slippery elm tablets to doctor a baseball. (Zumsteg, p. 151; Robert Smith, p. 111.)
|.500||Door slam||In the 19th century, the grounds crews often had a small shack on the field in which they kept their rakes and other equipment. In the old Baltimore Orioles field, this shack was, inexplicably, located in fair territory. Once an opposing hitter smashed a ball into the outfield, and the ball managed to roll into the shack. A member of the grounds crew quickly slammed the door shut. The puzzled left fielder couldn't get to the ball. (Gutman, p. 5)|
|.499||Durocher swings away||Leo Durocher was known as a scrapper. When he was managing the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1945, one heckler really got on his nerves. The fan was John Christian, who acknowledged calling Durocher a "crook" and a "bum." A policeman removed Christian from his seat in the grandstand section of the park. Durocher and Christian came together under the stands, and a fight quickly ensued. Christian later claimed that the Dodgers manager had broken his jaw. Durocher was tried, and acquitted, in court on charges of second-degree assault. The league did not suspend Durocher for his role in the melee. There are scores of other examples of fights between players or coaches in uniform, and fans. (Zumsteg, p. 87)|
|.498||Cut the corner||In 1880s and 1890s, many runners would cut the corner from first to third, without touching second, if they thought the lone umpire wasn't looking. They tried to do the same between second and home. This prompted a new rule in 1897, namely that a runner had to touch every base in order.
Note this wonderful anecdote from the classic baseball book, The Glory of Their Times: In the days before the rule was enacted, Cincinnati first baseman Jake Beckley scored from second on a hit to the outfield, although it was unclear if he had stopped at third en route. Umpire Timothy Hurst, a rough-and-tumble brawler himself, ruled that Beckley was out. This was a surprising call, since there had been no play at the plate. Basically, Hurst made the call on general principles. "What do you mean, I'm out?" queried the surprised Beckley. "You big S.O.B. You got here too quick," responded Hurst. (Gutman, p. 3)
|.497||Jackson's hip bump||A subtle (and apparently illegal) hip extension by Reggie Jackson affected the outcome of game #4 of the 1978 World Series. In the sixth inning, Jackson was on first and Yankees catcher, Thurman Munson, on second when the batter hit a sinking liner towards Bill Russell, the Dodgers shortstop. Russell failed to catch the ball but instead conveniently knocked it down between his feet. Replays showed that Russell appeared to drop the ball on purpose in the hopes of turning an easy double play. The umpires missed the call. They could have ruled the batter out and the play over. Call it ump mistake #1 on the play. In any event, Russell quickly picked up the ball, stepped on second to force out Jackson, and then whipped the ball towards first to try to complete the double play.
Jackson, meanwhile, was caught between first and second, in no-man’s land. As Russell’s throw sailed by him, Jackson suddenly stuck out his hip, and deflected the ball into right field. Munson scored. Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda argued—correctly, according to the video replays—that Jackson had intentionally stuck out his hip. In that case, the batter, Lou Piniella, should also have been ruled out and the inning over.
The umpires flat missed this call as well. Call it ump mistake #2. The Yankees, who went on to win the game, were richly rewarded for Jackson’s apparently illegal move. Ironically, the Dodgers ended up paying a heavy price for the non-call on Russell’s equally questionable move. (baseballreference.com; Black Biography)
|.480||Stolen mask||In May, 2000, the Los Angeles Dodgers were visiting the Cubs at Wrigley Field when a fan managed to pilfer the face mask of reserve Dodgers catcher Chad Kreuter. The catcher immediately leaped into the stands to try to retrieve his mask. His Dodger teammates quickly followed. An ugly fight ensued between the fans and the Dodgers. The brawl lasted about 10 minutes. There were arrests among the fans. Three coaches and 16 players later were slapped with suspensions. There are many other examples of full-fledged brawls between fans and players over the years. In one week alone in June, 1957, the New York Yankees--then led by the pugnacious Billy Martin--were involved in three different free-wheeling, bench-clearing scraps. (Zumsteg, p. 90; Scheinin, p. 269-270)|
|.468||Tarp speed||When the rain starts, it's sometimes easy to tell which team is leading by how quickly the grounds crew rolls out the tarps to cover the field. Keep in mind that games don't become official until the fifth inning is completed (or after 4 1/2 innings if the home team is leading). If rain renders the field unplayable before then, the game is replayed from scratch, with the score, once again, 0-0. Indians owners Bill Veeck once admitted that his grounds crews had two sets of canvas covers at Municipal Stadium in Cleveland. When the Indians were behind in the late innings after the game was official, if the rain started, they could roll out one of the tarps in two minutes flat. But if the Indians were up on the scoreboard after the fifth inning, the second tarp took a full 20 minutes to unfold. (Burr)|
|.467||10-cent beer||On June 4, 1974, The Cleveland Indians advertised "Ten Cent Beer" night in a marketing promotion designed to sell tickets. Some 25,000 fans showed up and proceeded to swill down some 60,000 of the 10-ounce beers. Many of the inebriated fans then proceeded to pour onto the field and attack the visiting Texas Rangers. Some had knives and chairs. "It was Custer's last stand," said Rangers outfielder Jeff Burroughs. "We thought we were goners."
The sheer numbers of the attackers overwhelmed police. Both teams rushed on the field, wielding the largest bats they could find, in a quick counter-attack. Eventually order was established. A famous photograph from that scary night shows Indian reliever Tom Hilgendorf, hands crossed over his bloodied and cap-less head, being helped off the field by a security guard and a player from the opposing team. Clearly, the Indians were trying to make money with the beer promotion and bore at least some of the responsibility for this near-disaster. (Scheinin, pp. 331-333; Young)
|.446||Potato||It wasn't a major league game, to be sure, but the bizarre potato story is worth recounting. The Double A Williamsport club was mired 27 games out of first place in an Aug. 31, 1987, game against the Reading Phillies. Rick Lundblade was the runner at third for the Phillies when the enterprising Williamsport backstop, Dave Bresnahan, called time out. He ambled over to the dugout, supposedly to replace his ripped catcher's glove, an act that raised no eyebrows. Then he walked back to his position with a new glove, and, it turned out, a nicely peeled potato hidden on his person.
After catching his pitcher's next offering, Bresnahan chucked the potato far over the third baseman's head out into left field, in what appeared to be a wild pickoff attempt. Lundblade scampered home, only to be tagged out with the game ball by Bresnahan. When the umpiring crew finally figured out what had happened, they ruled that Lundblade had, in fact, scored. They tossed Bresnahan out of the game and fined him $50. Bresnahan was then let go by the Williamsport club, which nonetheless held a special promotion on the last day of the season, admitting any fan with a potato for $1. It seemed all had been forgotten; Bresnahan was brought back to the park by the Williamsport team for the special day and assigned the task of autographing the potatoes. (Gutman, pp. 192-193)
|.437||Revolvers||There seems to be something about baseball in Philadelphia that brings out the guns. In the 1880s, sometimes the only thing that stood between an unpopular umpire and an unruly mob at the end of a game was a loaded firearm. Consider that in 1886, Robert Ellick was umpiring a game in Philadelphia and somehow got on the wrong side of the hometown crowd. He only managed to escape unharmed when a police company, with pistols drawn, was able to get him off the field of play. Never one to rely completely on the men in blue, another umpire, Phil Powers, pulled out his own gun in 1888 to keep a menacing crowd at bay. He too was in Philadelphia. (Robert Smith, p. 188; Shannon)|
|.430||Chapman dies||Carl Mays was known both for scuffing balls and throwing at batters during his career. When pitching for the Yankees in a game versus Cleveland in 1920, he threw a pitch up and in to Ray Chapman, the Indians' shortstop. Chapman, meanwhile, was known for lunging forward into the pitch. It was a perfect storm. The ball smashed into the left side of Chapman's skull, bounced back to Mays, who calmly threw to first for the putout. Chapman collapsed, but was able to walk off the field. Nonetheless, he died in a hospital hours after getting beaned.
Yankees catcher Muddy Ruel later said the pitch was clearly in the strike zone when it hit Mays. Many blamed Mays, who was unapologetic: "when any man, however ignorant, illiterate, or malicious, even hints that a white man in his normal mind would stand out there on the field of sport and try to kill another, the man making the assertion is inhuman, uncivilized, bestial." Baseball players did not wear helmets at the time. The only change made after Chapman's death was that umpires began, with much greater frequency, to replace dirty or torn-up balls with cleaner, fresher ones. (Purdy, p. 343; Scheinin, pp. 188-191)
|.427||Toothpaste||Leo Durocher was known as an aggressive manager. Clearly, he didn't like it when he thought the other team was cheating. When managing the Cubs in 1969, Durocher was sure that the opposing pitcher, the Dodgers' Bill Singer, was loading up his baseballs with illegal substances. Then Singer got on base, and--as is the custom--put on his baseball jacket to keep his pitching arm warm. When running the bases, a tube of toothpaste suddenly fell out of Singer's jacket. "Aha, I've got the son of the bitch," screamed a vindicated Durocher. "He's loading the ball with toothpaste." Unperturbed, Singer calmly responded, "I like to brush my teeth when I come to the ballpark." Singer was not penalized. There are numerous other examples in which a bizarre variety of unusual substances may or may not have been illegally applied to baseballs by pitchers. (Zumsteg, p. 156)|
|.423||Ashburn's ridge||Then there was the case of fleet-footed Phillies outfielder Richie Ashburn. In the 1950s, Ashburn was among the best bunters in the league. A lefty, Ashburn liked to push his bunts towards third base. The Philadelphia grounds crew used to subtly build up the dirt down the third base line so that Ashburn's bunts would eventually roll into fair territory, even if the ball were originally heading foul. It was nicknamed "Ashburn's ridge."
The old-time Cubs, as well, were known to be extremely adept at bunting for hits. When these Cubs used to visit Forbes Field in Pittsburgh, they found that all their bunts rolled foul, down a subtle slope. The Pittsburgh grounds crews had built up the incline along the foul lines in expectation of the Cubs' visit. There are many other examples in which grounds crews adapted a field to suit the home team's strengths or weaknesses. (Piersall; Burr)
|.413||Religious objections||It was in 1960 that Chicago White Sox owner, showman Bill Veeck, brought an exploding scoreboard to Comiskey Park. Hidden inside the myriad of lights was a clever, if secret, sign-stealing scheme. An obscure flashing red light in the upper right-hand corner of the scoreboard was used to flash the pitch type to the batter.
White Sox pitcher Al Worthington, a born-again Christian, thought the little operation was immoral, and told his manager that it had to stop or he would quit the team. (Worthington, along with his wife, had found religion after attending a Billy Graham meeting in 1958). Worthington eventually left the team. It turned out that a year earlier, when Worthington had been a Giant, he had a similar experience. Worthington apparently had told Giants manager Bill Rigney that players had no need "to lie or cheat in the world if they trust Jesus Christ."
There was no language in baseball's official rulebook at the time that forbade stealing signs with binoculars or telescopes, though no teams advertised taking part in this sleazy practice. Worthington's major league career ended soon thereafter. Explained White Sox executive Hank Greenberg, "We tried to sell him (Worthington), but the word was out that he was some sort of cuckoo." The use of electronic equipment to steal signs was banned in 1961. (Dickson, p. 104; Zumsteg, p. 37; Devaney; Cook)
|.410||Stuffing||Some batters go up to the plate looking to get hit by a pitch. Take the time in 1908 when Hall of Fame catcher Roger Bresnahan waddled up to bat with what appeared to be stuffing under his uniform. Bresnahan then stood right over the plate, at the very front of the batter's box. Umpire Hank O'Day quickly ordered the bloated batsman back to the bench and instructed Bresnahan to rid himself of the extra padding before he returned to finish his at-bat. Even in today's game, batters openly wear thick pads on their arms and elbows, a legal act. See any Barry Bonds at-bat late in his career for details. Some baseball observers believe such body armor ought be banned. (Murphy, p. 82)|
|.409||Playing favorites||The home plate umpire must make instantaneous decisions on many borderline strike/ball decisions in every game. They are supposed to be impartial. Nonetheless, some ballplayers apparently have been treated more equally than others over the years. For example, veteran batters who are known to have a "good eye" often get the benefit of the doubt on close pitches. Both Wade Boggs and Ted Williams--two excellent batters who seldom offered at pitches outside the strike zone--inevitably seemed to receive "ball" calls from the umpires on close pitches.
By the same token, talented control pitchers also seem to "get" the close calls from the umpires. Catfish Hunter and Greg Maddux are two examples of control pitchers who seemed to have been awarded a lot of called strikes on pitches that could have gone either way. Publicly, most umpires strongly deny that they favor talented, veteran players when making ball/strike calls. Is it fair to exhibit such favoritism? Of course not. Does it happen? Of course it does.
|.409||Inkwell||Some of baseball's most outrageous behavior occurred off the field, often between players and management. Take the case of pitcher Paul Derringer, who in the mid 1930s found himself pitching for Cincinnati, under owner Lee MacPhail. MacPhail liked his players to go all out. He fined Derringer, one time, a full $250 for the sin of not sliding into second base. A long-winded lecture on the benefits of hustling followed. Derringer listened for a while, and then clearly had had enough.
The pitcher picked up an inkwell and flung it at MacPhail, barely missing the man's head. MacPhail, reasonably, yelled out that Derringer might have killed him. Derringer responded that killing his owner had, in fact, been his intent. At this point, MacPhail whipped out a checkbook and wrote a check to his star pitcher for $750. Derringer was astonished. MacPhail explained, "That's a bonus for missing me!" (Purdy, p. 294)
|.407||Track star||In his home park, base-stealing wizard Maury Wills got a little extra help from Dodgers superintendent Cliff Replogle. In 1962, the year in which Wills stole 104 bases, Replogle had secretly dug a six-foot long track just off first base, and filled the pit with hard clay, before covering it over with infield dirt. This gave Wills a particularly hard surface, and therefore extra traction, to begin his attempted thefts of second base. "I know Maury liked it a lot," said Replogle in 1966. There are many other such documented examples from baseball history in which grounds crews altered the base paths in some fashion to favor the home team. (Gordon)|
|.394||Ha!||This episode comes straight from the pages of The New York Times sports section, dateline May 31, 2007:
The Yankees were leading the Toronto Blue Jays by two runs in an eventual 10-5 victory when Jorge Posada lifted a lazy fly ball to third base with two outs in the top of the ninth inning. Third baseman Howie Clark camped under it, but he backed off just after (Yankee third baseman Alex) Rodriguez ran slowly past him. Rodriguez said he shouted "Ha" as he passed Clark, who was fooled into thinking that the shortstop, John McDonald, had called for the ball. When Clark backed away, the ball dropped safely into the turf for a run-scoring single.The play is legal, though Rodriguez took much criticism for his actions. Rodriguez had broken an unwritten rule of baseball, namely using his voice to distract a fielder. Afterwards, Jays manager John Gibbons said, "Maybe I'm naive. But, to me, it's bush league." This sentiment was widely shared in baseball circles at the time. (Kepner)
|.393||Spy on spy||Sign stealing was absolutely rampant in the early 20th century. Every team tried to do it, or so it seemed. So teams went to great pains to avoid their signs being decoded. Then there was the case of Washington manager Joe Cantillon, who in 1909 was convinced that the Highlanders were stealing his team's signs. Cantillon gave his trainer the task of exposing the spying operation. The Washington trainer, Jerry Ettinger, quickly found the Highlander spy. He was sitting high up in an apartment building adjacent to the park, and had been stealing the catcher's signs with a pair of binoculars. That was the end of that particular spy operation. (Dickson, pp. 55-56)|
|.372||Martin gets even||It was widely assumed in the 1970s that Gaylord Perry was illegally throwing some form of spitball. Tigers' manager Billy Martin was so incensed by Perry's antics that he--Martin, that is--brazenly ordered all his pitchers to throw spitballs in a game when Perry was on the opposing team's mound. He made his point, to be sure. But the Tigers management wasn't impressed. The Tigers soon fired the hot-tempered Martin. (Zumsteg, pp. 72-73)|
|.364||I've been hit||Batters will pretend to have been hit by an inside pitch, which either missed them entirely or nicked their bat. Baseball veterans consider this sort of deception "acceptable." It also involves lying.|
|.352||Wet mound||When Hall of Famer Catfish Hunter was with the Kansas City Athletics in the mid-1960s, he liked a hard mound to push his spikes off of. George Toma, the head groundskeeper for the Athletics, was well aware of his star pitcher's needs, and kept the mound packed hard whenever Hunter's turn in the rotation came around. This would come back to haunt Hunter later on when he left the Athletics. Toma used this knowledge to the home team's advantage whenever Hunter returned to pitch against Kansas City. Toma took extra care to wet down the mound when Hunter visited. The idea was to make his former pitcher as uncomfortable as possible. There are many other examples in which grounds crews adjusted the mound to favor the home team. (Zumsteg, p. 5, 22; Schlossberg)|
|.340||Disco night||It started out as a promotion to bring fans out to the park. It ended with a riot. In 1979, the White Sox decided to admit any fan to old Comiskey park for 98 cents, provided they bring a disco record that would be destroyed on the field. It was billed as an anti-disco night. More than 60,000 fans showed up for the July 12 double-header versus the Tigers. Many had brought their own disco records.
During the first game, many of the vinyl discs were "frisbee'd" onto the field. After that game ended, the promotion got underway. A local DJ came out onto the field with a large green dumpster full of disco records. The crate was lit on fire and then exploded.
The fans went wild. Thousands poured onto the field. Chaos ensued. The fans got a raging fire going in the outfield. Other fans dragged the batting cage onto the infield, where it was quickly destroyed. The field was torn to shreds. For 37 minutes, the mob ruled. Finally, riot police were called in and order was restored. Tigers manager Sparky Anderson refused to allow his team on the field to play the second game. The White Sox eventually forfeited the second game. (Wright)
|.332||Disguises||When managers get tossed out of games, baseball rules do not allow them to manage the game any more. Many manage anyway. Some just stay just out of sight, in the runway in back of the dugout. Others are more devious. Take the case of Leo Durocher, who frequently fought with the umpires. When Durocher got tossed, he would simply wander up to the press box, where he had a good friend in Barney Kremenko, a sportswriter with the New York Journal-American. Durocher gave his signals to the writer, who passed them on to the field.
Dodgers skipper Charlie Dressen used to don a fake moustache and glasses and sit with his groundskeepers. Others have worn disguises and returned incognito to the dugout. Take the case of Mets Manager Bobby Valentine, who was tossed from a game in June of 1999 and returned to the dugout with a face mustache and sunglasses. He had fashioned the goofy mustache out of eyeblack strips. (Gutman, pp. 107-108, Sports of the Times)
|.331||Rubber||Pitchers are supposed to pitch from the rubber, but umpires seldom check the position of their back foot. Many pitchers will try to cheat a few inches forward, to decrease the distance between them and home plate. By the same token, batters will use their spikes or bat to rub out the chalk outlines of the batter's box, so they may stand where they please while batting. This was a hallmark of Hall of Famer Rod Carew. (Wulf)|
|.326||Watering hole||Vic Wertz came up as an outfielder but the Cleveland Indians moved him to first base in the mid-1950s. Clearly, it was a new position for Wertz. Indians groundskeeper Emil Bossard watered down the area in front of first to slow down balls until Wertz became more comfortable fielding grounders.
There are many more examples in which the home team's grounds crews altered the field in some fashion to try to help their own players. The Bossard family of groundskeepers had a particular reputation for expertise in this area; in fact, feature-length articles have been written about the Bossards' craftiness with field management. But the Bossards were hardly alone. The possibilities were practically limitless.
When the Orioles had infielders Mark Belanger, Brooks Robinson and Dave Johnson in 1968, the Baltimore crew kept their infield hard as pavement. The logic behind the hard field was that these quick, slick-fielding infielders could get to balls that slower defenders could not reach. By contrast, Cleveland groundskeepers also slowed up the third base area in the 1950s by growing the grass long, and by watering down the dirt. They did so for third-sacker Al Rosen, after the less-than-nimble slugger broke his nose for the ninth time. (Zumsteg, p. 18; Gary Smith; Piersall; Schlossberg)
|.324||Attack the mound||Batters will sometimes charge the mound and then try to beat up the pitcher. They typically do so if they think they pitcher is unfairly throwing at them at the wrong time, or in the wrong spot, or for no good reason. Baseball's unwritten code requires hitters drop their bats and attack with their bare hands. Baseball veterans consider such an attack on the pitcher "acceptable" under the correct circumstances.
One of the most famous of these incidents took place in a game between the Rangers and the White Sox on Aug. 4, 1993. Baseball author Ross Bernstein explains that White Sox infielder Robin Ventura...
had been having success against legendary Rangers pitcher Nolan Ryan at the plate, and when Ryan decided to drill him with one of his patented 100-mph fastballs, Ventura decided to charge out after him. What made the situation so unique, however, was the fact that the then-46-year-old Ryan cleaned Ventura's clock. Nolan stood his ground, tossed his glove, and then put Ventura into a perfectly executed headlock, at which time he proceeded to pummel Ventura in the head with a barrage of uppercuts. Incredibly, when the dust cleared, it was Ventura, and not Ryan, who got a two-game suspension and fine.(Bernstein, pp. 39-40)
|.323||Quick substitute||Baseball Hall of Famer Mike King Kelly toiled for Boston from 1887 until 1892. A quick-thinker, Kelly was minding his own business in the Boston Beaneaters dugout when a player on the other team lifted a high foul ball just in front of his seat. It was obvious to all that Beaneater backstop Charlie Ganzel was not going to be able to run down the ball. Kelly quickly called out Kelly now catching for Boston! and snagged the ball for an out. There was no rule forbidding such a substitution. Shortly thereafter, baseball officials changed the games official rules so that substitutions could not be made in the middle of the action. (Gutman, p. XX, 137+, photo caption)|
|.323||Jumping||Then there was the case of Eddie Stanky, the pesky and aggressive second baseman whose 11-year career ended in 1953. Stanky liked to jump up and down as the pitcher delivered the ball to the plate, in an obvious attempt at annoying, or distracting, the batter. It worked. And it was legal. One time, Phillies catcher Jack Kramer got so fed up with Stanky's antics that he threw his bat at the second baseman and a brawl almost ensued. Shortly thereafter, baseball officials added a new rule that players may not try to distract batters with "unsportsmanlike intent." (Gutman, 94)|
|.316||Fake injury||Hall of Fame outfielder Mike "King" Kelly retired 1893. During his 16-year career, Kelly developed a reputation for pretending he was injured when on the base paths. Once the fielders had let down their guard, the suddenly healthy and speedy Kelly would take an extra base.
Many years later, another Hall of Famer, slugger Reggie Jackson, used the same trick when with the Yankees. Jackson was barely safe on a very close play at first base. He fell over the bag, and came up hobbling. The game was stopped. The Yankee trainer was called out to administer first aid. It was eventually decided that Jackson would try to play, despite his apparent leg injury. On the very next pitch, a smiling Jackson easily stole second base, with no sign of a limp. (Gutman, p. XX)
|.314||The Lord||Andre Thornton was a devout Christian and much respected by his teammates. Thornton was given a corked bat in 1978. He used the illegal bat for two weeks, cranked one home run with it and then abruptly gave it up for moral reasons. "If the Lord intended me to hit 30 home runs,' explained Thornton, 'I figured I would." Thornton belted 33 homers that year for Cleveland Indians. (Discarding Cork-Filled Bat)|
|.314||Psychological warfare||Many of baseball's greatest pitchers used the mere possibility that they were throwing illegal pitches as a form of psychological warfare against batters. Lew Burdette and Gaylord Perry, among others, very openly touched all parts of their uniforms before delivering a pitch, just to keep the batters wondering. In a 1973 game, an ABC camera crew tracked Perry's every movement, and concluded he was hiding a foreign substance under his arm. The film showed that "some of Perry's pitches drop as much as a foot and a half after he rubs his bare right-pitch hand under his armpit," according to a New York sportswriter who'd studied the footage.
Many pitchers, Perry included, gave interviews intimating that they might not be playing by the rules. It was George Frazier, a relief specialist, who once remarked, "I don't put any foreign substance on the baseball. Everything I use is from good old U.S.A."
Perry, himself, was quoted as saying, "I once called the president of Vaseline and told him he should use me in a commercial since I used his product all the time." Perry even wrote a book, "Me and The Spitter," and allowed Sport magazine to print an excerpt from the book in 1973. In that excerpt, Perry happily acknowledged that he had unleashed his first spitball in his rookie year. Perry retired in 1983 with 314 career victories and is in the Baseball Hall of Fame today. (Gutman, p. 42; Suspected Spitter; Perry with Sudyk; Does Gaylord Load?; Gallo)
|.296||Nip the fat||In the 1880s and 1890s, rough players routinely tried to intimidate umpires to their team's advantage. One equally tough umpire, Timothy Hurst, fought back. According to an article that appeared in Sporting Life, "A couple of infielders were large, fat men with overlapping stomachs. When one of these fielders attacked Hurst verbally, Tim would reach forth and nip a roll of fat between the second joints of his index and middle finger and twist." Apparently, Hurst used to practice the move on his hotel mattress. Fights between player and umpires were commonplace in the early era of baseball. (Scheinin, p. 88)|
|.270||Fats||Leo Durocher was a rookie in 1928 and already a pretty good heckler. Durocher was playing second base against the Tigers when the portly Bob "Fats" Fothergill strode up to the plate with two outs in the ninth inning and a crucial contest on the line. Durocher called time out, and formally accused the Tigers of batting out of turn, which is an automatic out.
Umpire Bill Dineen quickly ruled that Fothergill was, in fact, the correct batsman. The devilish Durocher then screamed across the diamond, "It's only Fothergill! From where I was standing, it looked like there were two men up there." In short order, a thoroughly embarrassed Fothergill struck out and then ambled off across the field in an effort to attack Durocher. There are many other examples of name calling in baseball, encompassing the nastiest slurs of racial, religious and ethnic varieties. (Scheinin, p. 371)
|.268||Pine tar game||Both the Yankees and Royals were in heated pennant races when they met at Yankee Stadium on July 24, 1983. Eagle-eyed Yankee third baseman Graig Nettles had earlier noticed that his Royals counterpart, George Brett, applied pine tar to his bat handle far higher than baseball's legal limit of 18 inches from the knob of the bat. Nettles told Yankee skipper Billy Martin, who waited for the right moment to pounce on this obscure technicality.
It happened when Brett pounded a dramatic homerun with a runner on and two outs in the ninth inning, to put the Royals up 5-4. Martin protested, the bat was checked and Brett was called out. Game over. Furious, and out of control with veins bulging, Brett rushed the umps, and had be forcibly restrained. The Royals protested to League president Lee MacPhail, who--much to the surprise of many baseball observers--ruled in Brett's favor. The game was later replayed from that moment with Brett's homerun ruled legal. Said an outraged Martin, "What Lee MacPhail has done is tell every kid in the country that they should go ahead and use illegal bats and cheat, and they can get away with it." (Gutman, pp. 197-201)
|.261||Power of suggestion||Lenny Randle is no stranger to baseball controversy. Consider how he reacted to getting benched in spring training in 1977 by his manager, Texas Rangers skipper Frank Lucchesi; Randle calmly reared back and punched him.
But Randle is best remembered for his quick thinking as a Seattle Mariner infielder in a game versus the Royals on May 27, 1981. Kansas City's Amos Otis tapped a slow roller down the third base line. With no chance to throw out the speedy runner, Randle got down on all fours in an apparent attempt to blow the ball foul. Sure enough, the ball rolled foul. Home plate umpire Larry McCoy initially ruled the ball foul. But after the Royals argued the play, McCoy reversed himself. Otis was awarded first base. McCoy's logic was that Randle had "interfered" with the ball, even though he hadn't actually touched the ball. Responded an irate Randle: "I didn't blow it. I used the power of suggestion. I yelled, 'Go foul, go foul.' How can they call it a hit? It was a foul ball." (A Foul Wind)
|.260||Getting plunked||For much of baseball's history, retaliation--typically in the form of throwing a pitch at a batter--has been part of the unwritten code of the sport. There are many scenarios when this code has required that a batsman get plunked. A few of the more prevalent of these scenarios:
|.254||File away||After his Hall of Fame career wound to a close in 1916, Joe Tinker became the manager of the Columbus Club, which played in the American Association. The spitball was still legal at the time in both the minor and major leagues. Tinker's hitters were notoriously bad at making any decent contact with the spitball. Tinker decided to file an unusual protest.
He instructed one of his pitchers to go out to the mound with a massive file, of the type a burly carpenter would use. The pitcher--again acting on Tinker's instructions--then proceeded to file away at the ball, quite openly, before each pitch. This demonstration caused quite a stir, and at the end of the season, the management of the American Association finally made the spitball illegal. The Major Leagues followed suit, banning the spitball in 1920. (Purdy, p. 207)
|.247||Midget||St. Louis Browns owner Bill Veeck was one of baseball's most imaginative showmen. In August of 1951, he sent up Eddie Gaedel to bat, wearing the number 1/8. Gaedel, a midget with no discernable baseball skills, stood a scant 3 feet 7 inches tall. The act was then legal, and Browns manager Zack Taylor had Gaedel's signed contract ($100 per game) in the dugout as proof. Gaedel's strike zone was estimated at 1 1/2 inches. After much debate, Detroit lefty Bob Cain went to work, and quickly walked Gaedel on four pitches. The diminutive batter was immediately replaced by a pinch runner at first. One of baseball's most famous photographs shows Gaedel at the plate, and Tiger catcher Bob Swift kneeling behind him. Swift, on his knees, towers over Gaedel, who is grasping a toy bat.
Within 24 hours, an enraged Will Harridge, president of the American League, tossed Gaedel out of the league and adopted a new rule that, henceforth, required approval of all contracts by the league president before a player took the field. Unperturbed, Veeck issued his own statement claiming that Harridge had been "unfair to the little man." Tongue firmly planted in cheek, Veeck alleged that by Harridge's logic, particularly tall athletes, including the great Ted Williams (who stood a full 6 feet 3 inches), ought also be penalized for using their height to advantage when hitting. (Gutman, pp. 193-196)
|.244||Lift foot||First basemen will "cheat" by lifting their foot off the bag just before receiving the ball on a close play at first. In these bang-bang plays, the first basemen hopes to both avoid being spiked and to convince the ump that the ball beat the batter by a split-second. This play is technically illegal; the umpire should call the batter safe at first. As a practical matter, this play is prevalent in baseball. Seldom do umpires enforce this written rule. (Wulf)|
|.242||Easy ticket||Players will sometimes make less than a full-fledged effort to get out of the way of a pitched ball, especially if it's an off-speed offering. It's an easy ticket to first base. Of course, umpires are not supposed to award first base to a hit batsman who makes less than an honest effort to avoid getting plunked; in reality, however, the umps seldom require a batter who has been hit to return the batter's box.|
|.240||Drunks||Over the course of baseball's history, any number of carousers has played the sport. It comes as no surprise then that many have taken the field hung over, drunk, or both. In 1887, the Indianapolis team got creamed in one game by a 24-0 tally. It was reported at the time that the reason for the lopsided score was that the team had been "off on a big drunk." There are many other such examples of drunkenness throughout the history of baseball. Even the great Mickey Mantle apparently played drunk on occasion.
Or take the case of Hack Wilson, a Hall of Famer with a reputation for boozing. In the late 1920s, he played for the Cubs. It was in Chicago that manager Joe McCarthy tried a little science experiment to demonstrate the dangers of alcohol to Wilson. "If I drop a worm in a glass of water it just swims around," said McCarthy, who then dropped a worm in such a glass. "But if I drop it in a glass of whiskey, the worm dies." And so he did. "What does that prove?" the manager asked Wilson. "It proves that if you drink whiskey, you'll never get worms!" replied the indefatigable slugger. (Scheinin, p. 37; Reidenbaugh)
|.236||Phantom double play||Then there is the "phantom" double play; the second baseman or shortstop does not actually have his foot on the bag for the force at second before firing the ball to first to complete the double play. Umpires still typically award the out at second, even though this is not technically legal. By the same token, runners barreling down from first towards second in an effort to break up a double play should technically be called out if they do not slide towards the base. Still, umpires seldom invoke this rule, unless the slide is a blatant and obnoxious attempt to take out the fielder. As a practical matter, these plays are prevalent in baseball. Seldom do umpires enforce these rules. (Wulf)|
|.231||Dropping acid||Dock Ellis, a colorful pitcher in the carefree days of the 1970s, admitted that he had once pitched a one-hitter while tripping on LSD, a hallucinogenic and illegal drug. (Scheinin, p. 344.)|
|.223||Soliciting opinions||It was not until 1882 that umpires were told that they should no longer ask fans and players their opinions of a particular play before making a call. Prior to that decision, such opinions were occasionally sought. (Gutman, p. XXIV)|
|.216||Open at death||One case wasn't decided until after a player passed on. In the 1925 World Series, Hall of Famer Sam Rice of the Senators jumped over the center field fence in an apparent attempt to take a home run away from Pirates catcher Earl Smith. Rice climbed back onto the field a full 10 seconds later with the ball in his glove.
What actually had happened while Rice disappeared into the bleachers? Did he actually catch the ball? Who knows? In any event, Smith was called out. The game was in Pittsburgh. Pirates' fans who were in that section of the ballpark signed sworn statements that Rice had not caught the ball and that the umpire's call had been flat wrong. Rice sent a letter to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1965, indicating that his missive ought be opened upon his death and that the matter would then be decided once and for all. In 1974, Rice died at age 84, and the letter was dutifully opened. Rice wrote that he had, in fact, caught the ball. "At no time did I lose possession of the ball," the letter stated unequivocally. End of controversy? Not for Pirates fans. (Gutman, p. 197; Reidenbaugh)
|.208||Bang-bang||On a bang-bang play at any base, most infielders will instinctively come away from the tag acting in every way as if the runner had been out. Similarly, A fly ball is lined to the outfield and it's unclear to the umpire, who is running out to try to make the correct call, if the play is a clean catch or a trap, i.e., that the ball had hit the ground first. Virtually every major league, instinctively, on a close play of this type, will come up with the ball in his glove, and pretend that it was a clean catch. Baseball veterans consider these sorts of deceptions "acceptable." They also involve lying.|
|.207||Warm-up tosses||Kansas City Royals designated hitter Hal McRae was sent out to play the outfield in the 8th inning of a 1976 game versus the Yankees. McRae was a mid-game replacement due to an injury to the starting outfielder. Baseball rules only allow five warm-up tosses in such a situation, i.e., when a fielder must be replaced mid-inning due to injury. McRae, nonetheless, took eight practice throws, even as the umpires yelled to get him to cease. The opposing manager, Billy Martin, demanded that McRae be ejected on this technicality. In fact, McRae had broken the official rules of baseball. Nonetheless, the umpires refused to take action versus McRae. There are many other examples in which umpires have politely declined to enforce a minor violation of baseball's official rules. (Zumsteg, p. 74)|
|.205||Gold chains||Longtime, if controversial, manager Billy Martin was known for seeking a psychological advantage on the baseball diamond. One time, Dennis "Oil Can" Boyd was pitching against Martin's team. Boyd, who toiled for the Red Sox in the 1980s, had a penchant for donning flashy gold chains in the mound. Mid-game, Martin protested to the umpires that the chains were a violation of Major League Baseball's rules that govern acceptable attire. Martin's ploy was widely considered an attempt to anger Boyd and, more importantly, to throw off his concentration. There are many other examples of managers who chose to complain about alleged misconduct at key moments in the midst of a game. (Zumsteg, p. 74)|
|.195||Empty flattery||Since the earliest days of baseball, catchers have tried to distract hitters. One of the first known references to this behavior took place in the early 1900s, and involved Cleveland catcher Jay "Nig" Clarke. He apparently liked to throw dirt on Ty Cobb's shoes just as the pitch was hurtling towards the plate. Cobb, a quick study, apparently later encouraged his own catchers to try the same act. Catcher Tony Pena liked to spit on batters as the ball approached. Backstop Gary Carter tried to get the hitters to laugh. Ray Fosse would crouch behind the plate and throw endless streams of empty flattery at the batter. All such manner of verbal communication is legal. (Scheinin, p. 114; Gutman, 93-95)|
|.190||Enough is enough||How about the player who steals second base when his team is up by 10 runs? Such a player is often accused of being a poor sport, or "rubbing it in." Or, as the old baseball cliche goes, perhaps he is just a committed ball player who gives 100% every day?|
|.179||Decoy at second||Players have "acted" in an effort to gain advantage since the earliest days of baseball. To wit: With a runner on first who is off with the pitch on a hit-and-run play, the batter drives a ground ball to the first baseman, who steps on first and prepares to throw to second to try to complete the double play. The shortstop raises both his hands, thereby signaling to the unsuspecting runner that the ball has been hit foul, and that the play is over. In fact, the play is very much alive. But the runner stops running and is easily tagged out. Shortstop Fred Stanley, among others, was particularly adept at this decoy. Note this sort of decoy is perfectly legal and considered "acceptable" by baseball veterans. (Wulf)|
|.178||Second team||Take the case of a team that has been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. Such teams routinely promote their top talent from the minor leagues to give these players much-needed big league experience. It is clearly in that team's best interest to evaluate their best players against other major leaguers. But are they obligated to field their best nine in a game against a team that is still fighting to make the playoffs? Some managers have not done so. They have been accused of undermining the integrity of the game.|
|.163||A lemon||Here's the lemon story, as told by baseball historian Dennis Purdy. It took place in the mid-1880s and involved Chicago pitcher John Clarkson, a player with a devilish side:
While on the mound during a game in which the skies became very dark, Clarkson sought to have the game called on account of darkness. When the umpires refused, Clarkson was miffed, but he had a plan. He had one of the other players bring him a lemon from the dugout and on a subsequent pitch, he tossed the lemon instead of the baseball. When the umpire called it a strike, the catcher turned and showed the lemon to the ump, who promptly called the game.Clarkson is in the Baseball Hall of Fame today. He won 53 games in 1885, the second-highest total in baseball history. (Purdy, p. 194)
|.161||Out on purpose||Legendary Dodger Jackie Robinson was not just a trailblazer but a quick-thinking base runner as well. He was well aware of the old baseball rule that stated that if a batted ball hits a base runner, then that base runner shall be immediately called out. When Robinson was on first and a sure double-play grounder was hit towards the second baseman, Robinson would intentionally run into the ball. Yes, he would be called out, but the batter would be safe at first. In 1956, the rules of baseball were changed to avoid this (legal) subterfuge. Heretofore, the umpires could call both batters out in obvious double-play situations. (Gutman, p. XXI)|
|.141||Half effort||At times, teams will not try their hardest to win. Lopsided games are one such time. Take the Aug. 21, 2007, blowout between the Orioles and Rangers, which Texas would eventually win 30-3. Rangers skipper Ron Washington told his third base coach not to send runners home unless he was 100% sure they would score standing up. But with personal statistics on the line, is giving less than full effort appropriate? What if this costs a player the "runs scored" title? (Stories of Baseball)|
|.122||Hidden ball trick||The hidden ball trick has been pulled over 300 times at the major league level, including seven times alone in the National League in 1876, and once in the second game of the 1907 World Series. But some players never learn. Take the case of Rafael Bournigal, who was standing on third base on June 28, 1994, when Matt Williams, the Giants' affable third baseman, asked the Dodger base runner to step off the bag so that he--Williams, that is--could give the sack a quick cleaning. Of course, Williams had the game ball hidden in his glove, and quickly tagged the surprised Bournigal out. Just three years later, Williams again nailed Bournigal with the hidden ball trick. The play is legal, and considered "acceptable" by baseball veterans. (Zumsteg, pp. 63-67)|
|.121||Framing||Catchers try to "frame" a pitch by subtly pulling it just a tad closer to the strike zone, to make a borderline offering look like a strike to the home plate umpire. Baseball veterans consider this sort of deception "acceptable".|
|.118||Decoding||Sometimes, a team will use nothing more than their naked eyes and their intellect to steal signs. This is legal; today, only sign stealing by electric means is banned. Batters on second base will try to figure out if the catcher is setting up inside or outside, and subtly signal the batter as to pitch location. Pete Rose was known to be particularly adept at this art. Some first- and third-base coaches have developed reputations for being able to steal the catcher's signs as well.
Of course, some pitchers "tip" their pitches and a clever opponent can figure out this "tell" and benefit from it. Some players and coaches are quite skillful at stealing signs relayed by the coaches or manager. It can be very useful to know if a steal is coming, or the hit-and-run is on, or a suicide squeeze is planned. It is up to the team to use signs that cannot be decoded by eagle-eyed opponents. Explains Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner, "The fault is not with the people stealing the signs, but the people giving them." Among players and coaches with well-deserved reputations for being able to decode other teams' signs or reading pitchers: Paul Molitor, Charlie Dressen, Joe Nossek, Bob Turley and Joe Amalfitano. (Dickson, pp. 21-22, 85, 131; Collier; Wulf)
|.103||Pop-up decoy||Players have "acted" in an effort to gain advantage since the earliest days of baseball. To wit: With a runner on first running with the pitch, the ball is popped up in the infield. The shortstop pretends it is a ground ball, and the runner comes sliding into second. When the ball is caught, the runner is easily doubled off first. Bobby Grich loved working this play. Note this sort of decoy is perfectly legal and considered "acceptable" by baseball veterans. (Wulf)|
|.087||Pearly whites||Sign stealing was absolutely rampant in the early 20th century. Every team tried to do it, or so it seemed. So teams went to great pains to avoid their signs being decoded. Take the case of George Stallings, Boston's skipper from 1913 to 1920. He was known for his pearly white teeth, and apparently signaled for certain plays by simply opening, or shutting, his mouth. That was a hard sign to decode. (Stone)|
|.070||Wall decoy||Players have "acted" in an effort to gain advantage since the earliest days of baseball. To wit: With a runner on first, the batter lifts a high fly ball towards the left field wall. The left fielder stands near the base of the wall and gets ready to catch what appears to be an easy out. The base runner assumes the ball will be caught, and holds up between first and second. At the last moment possible, the left fielder turns around, the ball hits high off the wall, and the fielder whips it back to the infield, holding the runners to first and second base. Dave Winfield was quite good at this subterfuge. Note this sort of decoy is perfectly legal and considered "acceptable" by baseball veterans. (Wulf)|