With all of the recent brouhaha (or, if you prefer, “folderol”) about Pete Rose trying to be reinstated and placed into the baseball Hall of Fame, there’s been a lot of talk about baseball’s permanently ineligible list. The list is the ultimate punishment that can be meted out to players by Major League Baseball. As a result of being placed on the list, a player is not allowed to play or coach in the Major Leagues and is banned from being voted into the Hall of Fame.
Judging from history, two things become clear: first, any connection with gambling could result in a player being suspended. This would be a violation of baseball Rule 21, particularly sections (a) and (d), which state:
(a) Any player or person connected with a club who shall promise or agree to lose, or to attempt to lose, or to fail to give his best efforts towards the winning of any baseball game with which he is or may be in any way concerned; or who shall intentionally fail to give his best efforts towards the winning of any such baseball game, or who shall solicit or attempt to induce any player or person connected with a club to lose, or attempt to lose, or to fail to give his best efforts towards the winning of any baseball game with which such other player or person is or may be in any way connected; or who, being solicited by any person, shall fail to inform his Major League President and the Commissioner.
(d) Any player, umpire, or club or league official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has a duty to perform shall be declared permanently ineligible.
The other fact that becomes clear is that the banned list is hardly “permanent” at all. Of the 37 men that have been placed on the list, many of them were reinstated to the game after a short period of time. I have placed an * next to those people who were reinstated.
William Wansley* - In 1865, three New York Mutuals players were paid $100 by gambler Kane McLoughlin to throw a game against the Brooklyn Eckfords. Wansley, the catcher, was charged with six passed balls and the Mutuals lost 23-11. All three were banned from baseball, but Devyr was quickly reinstated. Wansley and Duffy were both later reinstated in 1870.
George Bechtel - On June 10,1876 George Bechtel of the Louisville Grays wired teammate Jim Devlin a message stating "We can make $500 if you lose the game today." The Louisville team found out about the wire and Bechtel was banned.
Al Nichols – One year after the incident with George Bechtel, the Vice President of the Louisville Grays received telegrams saying that the team would lose their next two games. After the losses the team confronted Devlin and demanded he confess. Before he could confess, George Hall came forward and implicated Devlin and Nichols. All three players were banned. Bill Craver had nothing to do with fixing the games, but he refused to cooperate with the investigation and was banned.
Oscar Walker - Walker originally signed with St. Paul for the 1877 season, but then joined Manchester, who dropped him on September 2, 1877. On December 5, Oscar Walker's expulsion was handed down for “contract jumping.”
Richard Higham – The only umpire banned. In 1882, Detroit Wolverines baseball owner and city Mayor William Thompson became suspicious of Higham's constant umpiring calls against Detroit. Thompson hired a private investigator to monitor Higham's activities. A letter written by Higham to a well-known gambler was discovered that advised the gambler when to bet on Detroit. Higham was banned.
Joseph Creamer - New York Giants team doctor who offered $2,500 to umpire Bill Klem for a playoff victory against Chicago in 1908. Creamer was banned by the President of the National League.
Horace Fogel - Owner of the Philadelphia Phillies. During the 1912 season, Fogel accused the National League and its umpires of favoring the New York Giants and claimed that the pennant race was "crooked." In November, the National League banned Fogel from professional baseball for life.
"Shoeless" Joe Jackson
Claude "Lefty" William
Arnold "Chick" Gandil
Charles "Swede" Risberg
Oscar "Happy" Felsch – Eight members of the “Black Sox” that agreed to throw the 1919 World Series for underworld figure Arnold Rothstein. Although the men were found innocent in a criminal trial, they were still banned by Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis.
Joe Gedeon - Second baseman of the St. Louis Browns who was present during a meeting with gamblers as they were discussing the plot to throw the 1919 World Series. Gedeon would later be called as a witness in the Black Sox trial. Commissioner Landis placed Gedeon on permanent ineligibility status for "having guilty knowledge" of the World Series fix.
Eugene Paulette - In the early part of the 1919 season, St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Eugene Paulette accepted gifts/loans from local gamblers. Days before the start of the 1921 season, Paulette, who was now a member of the Philadelphia Phillies was expelled from baseball by Commissioner Landis. Landis said that Paulette had "offered to betray his team, and put himself in the vicious power of gamblers."
Benny Kauff - New York Giants outfielder that was arrested with his brother in December 1919 for auto theft. Both were acquitted in a trial but it was Commissioner Landis' opinion that Kauff was "no longer a fit companion for other ballplayers" and expelled him from the game.
Lee Magee - Played for the Chicago Cubs as a utility infielder in 1919. Although he was also signed for the 1920 season with the Cubs, the team released him just before the season began. Magee sued the Cubs for his 1920 salary and lost. During the trial, court testimony proved he had fixed games and collected on bets. Magee was banned.
Heinie Groh* – Cincinnati third baseman held out for a pay raise at the beginning of the 1921 season and refused to play. As a result, Commissioner Landis banned him. Landis would approve Groh's reinstatement only "on the express condition that Groh joins the Cincinnati team immediately and remains with it throughout the 1921 season." Groh was back in the Reds lineup two days later.
Ray Fisher* - In 1921 the Cincinnati Reds cut Ray Fisher's salary by $1,000. Rather than take the pay cut, Fisher asked for his release, then quit to coach baseball at the University of Michigan when the Reds wouldn’t release him. For this offense, Commissioner Landis banned Fisher. In 1980 Commissioner Bowie Kuhn reinstated him back into baseball.
Dickie Kerr* - In 1922 the Chicago White Sox cut Dickie Kerr's salary by $500. Dissatisfied with his new contract, he asked for his release, and then quit. Kerr was placed on the permanent ineligible list by Commissioner Landis, but was reinstated in 1925.
"Shufflin" Phil Douglas - Late in the 1922 season, Douglas had a heated argument with his manager John McGraw. Still angered over the argument, Douglas then wrote a letter to St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Les Mann. The letter in part stated, "I don't want this guy (McGraw) to win the pennant. Talk it over with the boys and if it's alright send the goods to my house and I'll go fishing." Commissioner Landis found out about the letter and banned Douglas.
Jimmy O'Connell - O'Connell offered Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Heinie Sand $500 to throw a game on September 27, 1924. When questioned by Commissioner Landis, O’Connell said that he was told by his manager Cozy Dolan to make the offer. Dolan's response to each question was "I don't remember." Both men were banned.
William Cox - Owner of the Philadelphia Phillies. Cox was accused of betting on 15-20 Phillies games during the 1943 season. On November 22, 1943 Commissioner Landis permanently suspended him.
Fergie Jenkins* - Became the first player in baseball history to be permanently suspended from baseball for a drug related offense. Jenkins was arrested in Toronto, Canada on August 25, 1980 for possession of cocaine. Fourteen days after the arrest, Commissioner Bowie Kuhn banned Jenkins. In an unprecedented decision, an independent arbitrator reinstated Jenkins on September 22, 1980. Jenkins was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1991.
Willie Mays* - On February 2,1983, Hall of Famers Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays accepted greeter positions at a casino in Atlantic City. The next day, Commissioner Bowie Kuhn banned both of them. On March 18, 1985, Commissioner Peter Uberroth reinstated both men.
Pete Rose – Based on testimony from his gambling partners, Rose was investigated by the Commissioners office for betting on baseball games. Rose reached an agreement with Commissioner Bart Giamatti where he would be banned for life, but could apply for reinstatement after one year. All of Rose’s appeals have been denied.
George Steinbrenner* - In an effort to get out of a contract with former New York Yankees outfielder Dave Winfield, team owner George Steinbrenner paid admitted gambler Howie Spira $40,000 to "dig up dirt" on Winfield. As a result, Steinbrenner was given a lifetime suspension on July 30, 1990 by Commissioner Fay Vincent. On July 24, 1992, Vincent reinstated Steinbrenner.
Steve Howe* - Having six prior suspensions for drug abuse, pitcher Steve Howe was permanently banned from organized baseball on July 24, 1992 after Howe pled guilty to trying to purchase cocaine sixteen days earlier. An arbiter overturned Howe’s suspension in November 1992.