For decades, Major League Baseball (MLB) was known for offering one of the most exciting games you could watch. The sport was originally designed for fans to get into the action—and stay in the game—longer. Technology also made it easier for fans to follow the action from almost any place.
These days, that seems to have changed. Backwards baseball, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has forced the cancelation of games for the foreseeable future. Without any professional or collegiate sports to follow, the only thing fans have are betting lines and games held online.
The Early Years
MLB started holding spring training games in March, with the regular season following in May. Since the league didn’t have a fall season, it was decided that in-game betting would be a way for fans to make some money off the experience. The first recorded instance of a major leaguer betting on a game occurred in 1947, when Hall of Famer Larry Hoffman wagered $10 on the outcome of a Yankees-Red Sox game.
It wasn’t long before bookmakers started offering odds on all major sporting events, and baseball became one of the most popular sports to bet on. A former major leaguer named Jimmy Pierce admitted to placing early-20th-century bets as early as 1925. Pierce would later go on to found the South Florida Baseball Writers Association and Museum. In one of his autobiographies, he wrote, “When I first started taking an interest in betting, it was on the Cincinnati Reds. My friends and I would go to the ballpark and bet on the games.”
The Betting On Baseball Craze
The 1930s were a golden age for baseball betting. While the Great Depression put a damper on many people’s financial situations, it also gave birth to a betting mania. Many Americans—especially those in the eastern part of the country—wanted to get their hands on any information they could regarding their precious sports teams. Reporters frequently interviewed players and coaches before and after games, looking for tidbits that would make for interesting stories. These odds makers frequently corresponded with sports books, where they would place bets on the games.
According to the Ultimate Encyclopedia of Baseball, by the end of the decade, the betting on baseball had spread from coast to coast. One company, Sports Betting Company, opened offices on all seven continents, including Antarctica.
How Does Baseball Factor Into the Current Pandemic?
During the height of the pandemic, MLB started taking measures to keep games safe and profitable. In March, the major leagues decided to hold their games, but only if they were either exclusively online or behind closed doors. The only outdoor games during the pandemic occurred in Los Angeles and San Diego. The National League even suspended its season in June.
With the cancellation of spring training, major league baseball is now officially in hibernation. Fewer games mean less action for fans—and fewer opportunities for bookmakers to make a profit. The last-second, game-winning hit in the World Series was the last straw for many professional bettors, who were forced to wait until the end of the year to get their winnings. The last baseball game was played on September 26, and no games have been played since then.
Which Players Admitted to Betting On Baseball?
According to Ultimate Encyclopedia of Baseball, some of the most famous players to bet on baseball were:
- Ernie Lombardi, who played for the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Yankees;
- Joe DiMaggio, who played for the New York Yankees and Hollywood Stars;
- Lou Gehrig, who played for the New York Yankees;
- Babe Ruth, who played for the Red Sox and then later coached there;
- Stan Musial, who played for the St. Louis Cardinals and coached there;
- Bob Lemon, who played for the Detroit Tigers and later managed there;
- Joe Jackson, who played for the St. Louis Browns and Chicago White Sox;
- George Selkirk, who played for the Philadelphia Athletics;
- Jim Hegan, who played for the Pittsburgh Pirates; and
- Johnny Vandermeulen, who played for the St. Louis Cardinals and later managed there.
Where Can I Get All the Info on MLB Gambling During the Pandemic?
With few professional sports to follow and less opportunity for in-person betting, MLB fans looking to place bets will have to look somewhere else. Thankfully, the world’s best forums for betting information are still around. You just have to know where to look. Twitter has become a goldmine of information during the pandemic, as many players, coaches, and other prominent people have begun giving their thoughts on games and odds-makers via the microblogging site.
One of the best places for baseball information is the betting forum, Sportsbook.ag. On the site, you’ll find dozens of threads with all the information you need to place legal, secure bets on your favorite teams. Just remember, everything you need to know about MLB betting is still officially illegal. However, with the right information and a little bit of luck, you can still profit from the game.
That luck, unfortunately, may not be on your side. The MLB has been cracking down, shutting down offshore betting sites and punishing people who’ve accepted wager on games during the pandemic. Still, as long as the internet exists, there are always ways for people to find information they need. With a little bit of effort, you can still get your money down on some underdogs—just make sure you’re not doing so legally.