Baseball Gambling Scandal

By on March 24, 2020

Perhaps no other American sport has been more associated with the pastime that is gambling than baseball. Well, maybe basketball, but, Pete Rose, anyone? What few know is that gambling and baseball have been two peas in a pod since the 19th century.

At its inception, the sport was more common in small-town America than in Metropolitan areas. Rural folk could more identify with the outdoor game as not only skill was on display but a level of unpredictability. And, they took advantage by betting on aspects that make baseball unique. From how many hits a team would score, to the number of innings the game would last.

You have to understand, gambling grew in immense popularity in the 19th century, mainly due to popular games that originated from Europe and China, like blackjack, baccarat, roulette, faro, and even keno. You used to have to visit a real establishment to play these. Not anymore.

Today, casino gambling has moved to the digital realm, sites like offer everything that a real casino does, and much, much, more. From free spins, bonus rounds and progressive jackpots to loyalty programs with different tiers and privileges. Nowadays, you can get rich by playing amazingly visual slot games on your phone.

The temptation of easy money has left its mark on the sport of baseball. Here are some events that connect these two activities.


1919 Season

Believing that they were mistreated and underpaid, eight Chicago White Sox Players decided to conspire and throw the World Series in 1919.

This group included star player “Shoeless” Joe Jackson and pitcher Eddie Cicotte.  They were angry and wanted to stick it to owner Charles Comiskey by throwing the series in exchange for payoffs from notorious gamblers, and in the process making the Cincinnati Reds champions.

The players were acquitted of fraud two years later, but were banned from the sport for life and earned the moniker, the “Black Sox”.

1972 Season

Likely the last publicly acknowledged attempt to fix a Major League Baseball game. According to FBI files, a person named “Louie” called Cincinnati Reds pitcher Wayne Simpson, with an offer of $2,000 and a new car if he would throw a game against Pittsburgh that same night. By allowing left fielder Robertson to get hit in inning six.

“Louie” then confirmed the plot with Reds catcher Johnny Bench the same afternoon. Both players reported the incident to management and it became known to the public.

The Reds went on to beat the Pirates 6-3.


1987 Season

We mentioned him at the start and you really can’t have an article on this topic without Mr. Rose. It has kept him out of the HOF. His claim to fame isn’t that he was a great player, but that he bet on 52 Reds games during the 1987 season.

He was given five months in prison for tax evasion and received a permanent ban from baseball in 1989.

In 2004 he finally came clean and admitted that he had bet on the sport for years.

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