Who Admitted to Betting on Baseball While He Was the Manager of the Cincinnati Red?

Most people know Major League Baseball as America’s Pastime. Fewer people know that the American version of the game was actually founded in the middle of the 19th century as “baseball”, which was originally a game played by American schoolchildren. The first documented baseball game was played in Hartford, Connecticut on May 4th, 1846, and the sport was initially referred to as “rounders” or “ballroom baseball”. The founder of modern baseball, John Montgomery Ward, is often credited with changing the sport to its current form. After Ward’s untimely death in 1872, his protege William H. Ryerson took over the team. Ryerson was responsible for much of the game’s modernisation, including the creation of the box score and the professional player contract. He is also credited with adding the phrase “baseball” to the sport’s name. In honour of Ward and Ryerson, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York annually presents the John Montgomery Ward Award to an individual who contributes significantly to the growth of the sport.

Betting on Baseball While It Was Still in its Infancy

While Ward and Ryerson are credited with changing baseball, the sport saw almost as significant a shift in the other direction during the 20th century. Through the first three quarters of the century, gambling was heavily frowned upon in American sports. You had to be a professional to be able to bet on sports, and you had to do so legally. However, this changed in 1919, when the United States – which had been struggling with mass unemployment and social exclusion since the turn of the century – went through a major recession.

As a result of this downturn, many individuals saw gambling as a way to make money, and many saw baseball as the perfect sport for it. Professional baseball teams got into the act by setting up shop in Las Vegas, and many top-level players – famous and infamous alike – openly admitted to gambling on baseball. The Black Sox scandal of 1919 saw eight of the sport’s best players banned from baseball for life after they were found to have conspired with gamblers to fix the World Series – the game’s grandest prize at the time – in their favour. The likes of Shoeless Joe Jackson and Buck Weaver were among the players who received five-year bans, and seven other players were banned for life.

The Evolution of Gambling in American Sports

After this dark period in the history of American sports, gambling came under much scrutiny. Professional sports teams and leagues saw the dangers of allowing or encouraging gambling, and many took steps to close off the opportunity for their fans. In 1934, baseball’s main rival, the National Football League (NFL), became the first North American professional sports league to ban betting on games. Several other leagues and teams soon followed suit.

This was despite the fact that many Americans saw gambling as a way of life. A Gallup Survey from that year shows that 77% of respondents said they frequently or sometimes bet on baseball games, while 55% said they did the same with football. At the time, Americans were twice as likely as Europeans to bet on sports, and in some places, betting was even legal.

What is the Major League Baseball Players Association?

Baseball’s primary umbrella organisation is the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA). Founded in 1962, the MLBPA’s primary purpose is to improve the living standards of professional baseball players. The association negotiates contracts on behalf of its members, provides insurance coverage, and promotes the game through lobbying and community work. The players’ union also manages the players’ behavioural and educational programmes, and provides assistance with job placement and career advancement. Most importantly, the MLBPA looks after the players’ interests in dealings with the Commissioner of Major League Baseball and the team owners.

MLB Players Admit to Gambling

In the years leading up to and including the 2019 season, several high-profile Major League Baseball (MLB) players have gone on record as admitting to gambling on baseball. During an interview with New York Magazine, former Baltimore Orioles and Chicago Cubs outfielder John Francis “Franscis” Revere stated: “I have never met anyone who didn’t like to gamble. A lot of us love to bet. I think that’s the American Way. If you’re going to live in America, you’re going to gamble.” In his biography The House That Ruth Built, author Bob Barker notes that some of baseball’s most notable gamblers include Joe Jackson, Joe DiMaggio, Johnny Mancell, Rudy Reyes, Pete Seeger, Paul Trejo, and Mickey Mantle.

Why Should You Worry About Gambling in Baseball?

Let’s keep in mind that gambling is not only prevalent in baseball, but it is also legal. From minor leagues to the majors, gambling is openly accepted and supported by baseball’s structures. This may seem like a positive element in the sport’s evolution, but it also means that many problems could arise from it.

The first and most important of these problems is that gambling in baseball encourages individuals to focus on their odds of winning, rather than the skills they need to actually win. This in turn affects a gambler’s performance on the diamond, as they are less likely to perform at their best when they are constantly thinking about the odds of winning or losing. Moreover, some individuals abuse their position of trust within baseball, by taking advantage of others who are gambling, or those who have financial problems and are looking to place bets. Finally, as mentioned above, gambling in baseball is illegal, which means that individuals can and do get into trouble with the law, and the possibility of being investigated and disciplined by the Commissioner of Major League Baseball is a constant threat.

How Can You Prevent Problems Due To Gambling In Baseball?

As a fan of the game, you would like to see baseball maintain its tradition of providing a safe and fun environment for its fans and players. This is why you should be concerned about gambling in baseball. However, you can take steps to limit the damage that it causes, if you and your fellow fans are aware of the issue.

Firstly, you should do your best to discourage gambling in your community. Organised communities of any sort – be they sports, religious, or political groups – can and often do work against gambling, as it is a source of conflict and divisiveness. Organisations like the Mormons and the Ku Klux Klan have been known to actively fight gambling, as they see it as a threat to their existence. Organisations such as these are unlikely to ever let their guard down, and are likely to continue fighting the good fight against gambling in any form. If you see gambling as a problem in your community, you should work to solve it. This may mean speaking to your neighbours and local politicians, as well as educating your fellow club members about the issues that gambling raises.

Increased Focus On Performance, Not Odds Of Winning

The second problem that arises from gambling in baseball is that it focuses too much attention on the odds of winning, rather than the skills needed to win. In a game where the chances of you and your team winning are always in your favour (due to the game being fixed by the casinos and the betting shops), the focus is always going to be on the odds of winning, rather than the performance of the individuals on your team. This is why, ultimately, you will never reach your full potential as a player, and why teams with fixed odds of winning will inevitably rise to the top. In addition, people who bet on sports, particularly in America, are more likely to be found in the gambling neighbourhoods, as they can often identify with the “odds” element of the betting process.