|Readers: Biggest cheaters in baseball|
From the Page 2 mailbag
Earlier this week, Page 2 presented our list of the 10 biggest cheaters in baseball history, and we asked you to send us your choices.
After going through more than 600 e-mails, here is how Page 2 readers ranked their picks. Be sure to vote in the poll at right to crown the No. 1 cheater of all time.
1. 1919 Chicago White Sox (76 letters)
All of the incidents of cheating you mentioned were by individual players with one exception. However, all of the acts of cheating you mentioned are or were widely practiced (or so some of the athletes claimed) by others; they just happened to get caught.
What you failed to mention is the most damaging of all cheating incidents. Of all the incidents of cheating in baseball, the most infamous, far-reaching and hurtful to the sport was the 1919 Black Sox World Series scandal. How did you forget about that? Cheating on a scale that makes all the petty incidents you mention sound pathetic.
Corked bats -- hey, the batter still has to make contact. Loaded balls -- the pitcher still has to get the ball in the strike zone or get the batter to swing. There is a certain amount of skill involved in all those cheating practices.
But the 1919 mob buyoff -- that is just reprehensible in every way shape and form. None of the cheaters you mentioned are banned forever from baseball -- the 1919 Black Sox have several people who will forever be remembered as just what they were ... cheaters.
Eight guys should be the named the biggest cheaters of all time: Joe Jackson, Eddie Cicotte, Lefty Williams, Buck Weaver, Chick Gandil, Swede Risberg, Happy Felsch, and Fred McMullin.
People will forever debate if Jackson, and to a lesser extent, Buck Weaver, were ever involved. They both got money from the gamblers, so they're just as guilty.
All the other cheaters on your list are wrong for doing what they did, but those acts all pale in comparison with what the 1919 White Sox did.
Some will say that it is more of a scandal than cheating, but nothing could be further from the truth. They cheated the game, they cheated themselves out of longer careers and recognition in the Hall of Fame, they cheated their manager, Kid Gleason, and, most importantly, they cheated the fans.
As F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote, the Black Sox played "with the faith of 50 million people -- with the single-mindedness of a burglar blowing a safe."
I'm just wondering how you could leave off the infamous "Black Sox" of 1919 with Shoeless Joe Jackson. Granted, they did not cheat to win, but they most definitely cheated. They purposely threw away every baseball players' dream for money. I consider throwing The Series cheating. That decision now leaves one of the greatest outfielders of all-time excluded from the Hall of Fame.
2. Albert Belle (43 letters)
Few baseball players are universally regarded as generally unlikable characters, and while Ty Cobb and Hack Wilson might be at the top of that list, Albert Belle takes No. 3. And he wasn't half the ballplayer either of those other two were, even with his dirty play.
My real question is which was more corked -- his bat or his brain?
Hands down Albert Belle.
It's been eight years since "Batgate," and the man still refuses to live up to what he did. Not only is he a cheater, he was a pathetic one at that.
Albert Belle has to be the biggest cheater in baseball, by far. I'm not saying that all his bats were corked, but I would say that his word is certainly not as reliable as Omar's, and my suspicion is that most of his bats were corked. It's one thing to throw a spitter when you have other pitches, but when all you're using is illegal bats, then you haven't accomplished much on your own. Not to mention the reflection of your skills that it is.
3. Mike Scott (34 letters)
What the ump missed but anyone sitting close to the field saw was a small white emery board fall to the back of the mound when Scott pulled his back pocket inside out. None of us said a word, and as Scott chatted up the ump, second baseman Billy Doran calmly sauntered over to the mound, bent to check his shoelaces and walked off with the board.
How could you not mention Mike Scott? His "awesome" splitter that he "discovered" before the 1986 season was caused by ball that was scuffed by more sandpaper than Bob Vila's workshop.
It's too bad he couldn't have pitched more games of the 1986 National League Championship Series -- the Astros would have had a chance.
Scott made a few "adjustments" to his delivery in 1986, and this mediocre hurler just happened to win the Cy Young Award, throw a no-hitter and lead his team to a division title, all in the same year. He brought a whole new meaning to the term "cut fastball."
4. The Bossard family (29 letters)
Because of the Bossard family's ingenuity, their respective teams have benefited from their groundskeeping tactics for 80 years and running. Groundskeeping can win a team several games a season, so you do the math. Keep up the good work, Rog.
The Bossard Family!! Why you ask? Because I am a Bossard, of course. And an honor at that ... the greatest groundskeepers to grace the great game of baseball.
P.S. Cheaters rule.
You may think you know about all of our tricks, but you don't.
Along with the other Bossards in No. 7, don't forget the Cleveland Indians' contingent of cheaters, Emil's other two sons -- Harold Bossard and Marshall Bossard.
5. Gaylord Perry (25 letters)
He was a surgeon when it came to doctoring baseballs. Throughout his career he continued to improve on his methods to "cheat." Perry did not have velocity, so he relied on ball movement. The irony is that everyone knew what he was doing but could not catch him.
I'm not saying he was the biggest cheater necessarily, but where the heck is Gaylord Perry on this list? I remember those spit and Vaseline balls like it was yesterday!
I've even been to his house it North Carolina back when I was a kid. You knew it was his house because your hand slipped off the door knob when you tried to open it. ...
6. Pete Rose (24 letters)
Given the longevity of his gambling history and the fact that betting on baseball is the worst thing a ballplayer can do in terms of damaging the integrity of the game, I think Rose should sit atop your list. He's in a class of classless-ness all by himself.
Pete Rose. Nos. 1 to 9, no contest. No. 10, The Black Sox.
Truly amazing, a list of the 21 biggest baseball cheaters that does not mention any of the Black Sox or Pete Rose. Instead, we get players randomly caught at everyday minor rule violations (or non-violations, in several cases). It's as if you took a list of 21 guys who got speeding tickets this morning and called it the 10 worst drivers in history.
Did any of these guys:
The five months in prison for tax evasion do not indicate baseball cheating, but they add credibility to the idea that Rose is a crook and a liar, and therefore some of the more sensational baseball cheating stories not on the above list are true.
7. Kent Hrbek (21 letters)
The cheat proved costly for the Braves, who lost the game by one run and lost the series in seven games.
8. John McGraw (18 letters)
But what really seals the deal for McGraw is the riot he started in Boston in 1894 when he got into a fight with the opposing third baseman. That riot destroyed 170 neighboring buildings. If that's not the dirtiest-win-at-all-costs player of all time, I don't know who is.
9. Joe Niekro (15 letters)
As for his comments, really ... who has ever been seen filing his nails during a game? Not only is he a certified cheater at the game, but he's been caught lying, too.
10. Ty Cobb (14 letters)
In addition, he also bet on baseball, so he might have thrown games. Ty Cobb is a necessary addition to any "bad" sports list.
Others receiving votes