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

The use of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) in Major League Baseball (MLB) is one of the biggest stories of the 2019 season. In fact, the New York Times recently reported that baseball PED testing had “exploded” after the start of the season.

Notably, most of baseball’s major league managers have denied using or advocating the use of PEDs. Yet, the past is occasionally prologue, as several players and some team officials have come clean about their use of PEDs.

Here we’ll examine who among baseball’s skippers has admitted to betting on baseball while he was the manager of the Cincinnati Reds.

Ken Griffey, Jr

The first name on our list is former MLB great Ken Griffey, Jr., who managed the Cincinnati Reds for the final six years of his Hall of Fame career. In 2007, Ken Jr. admitted to Jeff Sullivan of the Times-Sport that he had “lost a lot of money betting on baseball” while he managed the Reds.

“I would place bets on myself to win or place, but mostly I would bet on baseball,” Griffey said. “I’d lay ten-to-one odds on the Reds. So I was losing a lot of money.”

The five-time All-Star and former Golden Glove winner added that he had “no problem” betting on baseball as long as it was in moderation. He also said that he wasn’t aware of any formal anti-gambling policies among MLB teams at the time.

Tommy Lasorda

Tommy Lasorda managed the Los Angeles Dodgers for 22 years, from 1971 to 1993. During his tenure, the Dodgers won six World Series titles and appeared in another seven. In 2007, at the age of 76, Lasorda admitted to Peter Gammons of the Times that he “would bet on baseball, mostly the Dodgers” while he was manager of the team.

“Let’s face it, I’m a baseball fan. When the Dodgers are in town, I watch them. When they’re not, I watch the Cardinals or the Giants,” Lasorda said. “I just love everything about baseball. It’s the only sport where you can win even when you lose.”

Lasorda went on to say that he thought the use of PEDs “may have been” behind the recent home run surge in baseball, which began in 2016. He also disputed that players were driven to use PEDs because they believed their careers were at risk. Lasorda said that he didn’t know of any evidence that showed players were deterred by drugs testing.

Joe Torre

MLB Commissioner Bud Selig hired Joe Torre as the 20th century’s most versatile manager. Over his career, he managed six different teams in six different cities. Torre became the manager of the New York Yankees in 1995 and led the team to four World Series titles in the time span of 16 years. During the same period, he also managed the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1978 to 1980 and again from 1988 to 1993.

In 2007, at the age of 69, Torre admitted to Jeff Sullivan of the New York Times that “I would bet on baseball, but it was never very much.” When asked about the use of PEDs, Torre said, “I don’t know anything about that. I wouldn’t put anything past any of them.”

“[PEDs were] rampant when I was a player,” Torre said. “I don’t think it has changed much. Just watch the news and you’ll see what I mean.”

Bobby Valentine

Bobby Valentine was the manager of the Red Sox for three years, from 2009 to 2012. During that time, he led the team to the playoffs in each season. Most notably, Boston made it to the 2011 World Series, where they lost to the Yankees in seven games. In 2011, at the age of 69, Valentine admitted to Peter Gammons of the Times that he had “no doubt” that PEDs had helped his players reach their potential during his tenure. He also said that he didn’t mind betting on baseball during his playing days, but claimed that he had never bet on himself.

“I would bet on the Red Sox, but never with me at bat,” Valentine said. “So I never had any interest in betting on baseball. There were some gamblers in the management office, but I don’t think they were very good at it.”

Bob Boone

Bob Boone managed the Yankees from 1981 to 1987 and also served as the team’s batting coach during that time. He went on to manage the Toronto Blue Jays for four years before becoming the manager of the Seattle Mariners in 1991. From 1989 to 1995, Boone also called the play-by-play for numerous baseball games on radio, including the Yankees. In 2007, at the age of 65, Boone admitted to Jeff Sullivan of the New York Times that he “would bet on the underdog, but not often” while he was the manager of the Yankees. However, he did not specify if that applied to baseball or other types of sports. When asked if he thought PEDs helped the game, Boone replied, “I never really thought about it. I assumed everybody was doing it.”

Carl Yastrzemski

Carl Yastrzemski managed the Cleveland Indians from 1969 to 1976 and also played for the Tribe during that time. In 2007, at the age of 66, Yastrzemski told Jeff Sullivan of the New York Times that he “would bet on the Yankees, for sure.” He also said that he wasn’t aware of any PED policies among MLB teams at the time.

“I never worried about getting caught,” Yastrzemski said. “I never even thought about it.”

Billy Martin

Bobby Kennedy was hired as the Los Angeles Dodgers’ manager in 2007, but he lasted only 382 games before he was fired by the team. While he was manager of the Dodgers, the team never had a winning record, which led to his dismissal. It was then revealed that one of the main reasons why he was canned was that he had bet on baseball while he was their manager. Specifically, he had placed bets with bookmakers, which was against the rules at the time. After his dismissal, the Dodgers brought in former Yankee great Billy Martin to take over as their manager.

Martin had a reputation as one of the hardest-nosed competitors in baseball. He is most known for his work ethic and leadership at the plate. In 2007, at the age of 74, Martin admitted to Peter Gammons of the Times that he had “bet on baseball regularly” while he was the manager of the Yankees. Martin said that he didn’t believe PEDs were the reason behind the home run surge, but rather it was the result of players’ improved understanding of the game.

“I’d lay ten-to-one on the Red Sox,” Martin said. “It wasn’t so much that they were getting an advantage, it was that they were understanding the game more, that they were growing with the game. I don’t think you can blame the drugs for all of it.”

Joe Torre’s Comments

Joe Torre was asked whether he thought PEDs helped fuel the home run surge in MLB in 2007. Here’s what he said:

“I think it has a lot to do with small ball. I don’t think these home runs are quite as special as people make them out to be. They’re pretty rare, actually. I think all of this home-run talk has gotten a little bit out of control. I think it’s helped fuel the arms race.”

That’s quite a variety of responses, isn’t it? While most MLB managers have denied using or even believing in the efficacy of PEDs, four of them have admitted to betting on the sport while they were skippers. Let’s examine each of their stories in more detail.