A History of Scandals and Corruption in the World of Baseball Gambling

- by Simon Andras

Despite not being at the same level of prestige that it once was, Baseball is still thought of as America's game. While I don't necessarily agree with the statement, it doesn't change the fact that we've been playing and betting on baseball since the days of the Civil War and this game is as much of a part of American history as anything. That's over 150 years of history - with countless stories that have changed the game. Over those years, one thing has remained a constant - scandals. From corked bats to steroids and an almost innumerable amount of betting scandals - the league is full of dark stories and controversy.

For this post, let's look specifically at baseball's betting scandals. Literally from day one, there has been corruption in the baseball betting community - the scandals never stopped, and probably hit their peak during the Pete Rose debacle.

So, what's the deal here? First of all, baseball is not alone by any stretch of the imagination. There have been well documented incidents of match fixing in soccer matches around the world, the NBA has had a pretty high profile case of this recently and even the NFL somehow does not seem immune. Is baseball just an easier sport to throw away - no pun intended - than say, football? Perhaps, another answer is that corruption seeped its way into the game from its early days, well before the turn of the 20th century.

From the 1860s to today

Before there even was a professional baseball league, at least not one in its current form, there was corruption. In 1865 a player by the name of William Wansley was famously paid $100 by a gambler to ensure a fix - 100 bucks back in those days was a lot more than it sounds, by the way. Wansley then took that money, paid a couple other players with it to help ensure the fix and kept the rest for himself. This is the first documented scandal in baseball betting history (that I could find anyways) and it seemed to plant a seed for future generations to follow suit.

The late 1800s were a much simpler time in the world, yet selfish greed was always around. The match fixing scandals persisted for a few decades, specifically through the high profile Black Sox Scandal during the 1919 World Series, which eventually forced the league into instituting some serious penalties for anyone suspected of being involved. These penalties seemed to work for a few decades, until Pete Rose happened anyways. Whether or not gamblers were paying off players during the middle of the century is anyone's guess - if you ask me, they just knew how to avoid being caught.

The Pete Rose situation

Back to Pete Rose - the man who infamously went down in history and was banned from the game for betting on his own team. There's not a lot of common ground here, you're either on his side or you're not. To this day, Rose still claims that he only bet on his Reds team to win - that's not so bad, right? Well, the rules are the rules and they specifically claim that any sum whatsoever a player, coach or umpire bets on a game is grounds for banning. Rose knew what he was getting into, he just made the mistake of getting caught. His gambling antics tainted the history of one of the most prolific hitters the game has ever seen.

Has Pete Rose served his time and should he be allowed back into the baseball world (ie. the Hall of Fame)? The league has done a good enough job making an example of him - it's time to pay respect where respect is due. Where do you think the future of baseball betting is going? Let us know in the comments section and go enjoy the return of baseball season!

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