Cheating is something that occurs in all sports, but for Major League Baseball, there are a range of stories to tell. I have whittled these stories down to the top 10 biggest cheats in the game.
10. Billy Hatcher
In September 1987, Hatcher, who played for the Houston Astros at the time, was caught cheating. He was ejected from the game against the Chicago Cubs with a home loss at the Astrodome. He was caught using an illegal corked bat, according to the umpire crew.
The Chief Umpire stated: “The bat was hollowed out at the barrel and had three or four inches of cork inside it. When he hit the ball, the bat broke. Moreland picked it up and showed it to the Umpire… The cork was obvious to see”.
9. Ken Caminti
Caminiti admitted to taking steroids in 1996 and claims that at least Major League Baseball players use performance enhancing drugs. He is correct, many MLB players have been caught using performance enhancing drugs, including Alex Rodriguez and Roger Clemens. Although he defended his use of steroids by stating:
“I’ve made a lot of mistakes, I don't think that using steroids is one of them”, perhaps he would not have said this if he was caught taking them during his MLB years, this may have been a different story. Although, after pleading guilty for drug possession charges in 2002, he was sentenced to 3 years probation.
8. Joe Niekro
During a Minnesota Twins vs California Angels game, Twins pitcher Joe Niekro was caught with a tampered ball. Acting surprised, Niekro’s glove was inspected by the umpire, nothing was found. He was then asked by the umpire to throw him his ball, however, he decided to throw it into the dirt, more suspicious than surprised this time around.
He was then asked to empty his pockets, whilst doing so he made a failed attempt to throw a foreign substance out view from the umpire, which ended up being an emery board, note that he also had sandpaper in his pocket. Niekro was then ejected from the game.
7. Ricky Honeycutt
The name Honey’cutt’ seems ironic for this story. The Seattle Mariners pitcher was caught cheating in 1980 when he taped a thumbtack to his finger, it was given away when it had cut him and caused him to bleed.
Honeycutt states that this was his first time trying the technique and would be the last, due to getting caught, cut and it didn't work.
6. Houston Astros
In 2017, it was said that The Astros were involved in a cheating scandal that involved sign stealing. Sign stealing is an illegal method used to relay the opposing teams signs to a pitcher, coach or base runner.
Although the scandal had been said to have begun in 2017, it was until 2019 that the MLB decided to begin an official investigation. The team were fined for their foul play, however, they were not stripped of their 2017 World Series Title.
This caused controversy as other teams felt the wrath more than the Astros. I.e. The Los Angeles Dodgers may have won the World Series, New York Yankees player Aaron Judge could possibly have won the MVP for 2017 and the list goes on.
5. Gaylord Perry
Gaylord Perry, Hall of Fame pitcher was caught using a spitball in 1983. Perry had used this technique, using his own spit or another substance to make the ball move in an irregular way for several of his professional years and was not caught, of course until 1983, his final professional year.
It was the Boston Red Sox that caught Perry out when he was a pitcher for The Seattle Mariners. The pitcher did not have anything on him, however, the baseball he was holding had clearly been covered in Vaseline.
4. Micheal Pineda
In 2014, Micheal Pineda was pitching against The Boston Red Sox when the Boston Television crew saw that Pineda had pine tar on the palm of his pitching hand, a cheating technique that allows pitchers to have a more relaxed grip on their bat.
Despite the television crew catching this on camera, it went unchecked. Pineda decided to try his luck a second time less than two weeks later, this time the pine tar was found on his neck. The Red Sox called him out this time and he was ejected from the game and was later suspended for 10 games.
Pineda is the not the only MLB player to be caught with pine tar, other guilty suspects include Julian Tuarez when playing for St. Louis Cardinals, Brendan Donnely for the Anaheim Angels, Joel Peralta for the Tampa Bay Rays and many more.
3. Whitey Ford
Ford has been accused and admitted to cheating several times during his career. Including, doctoring the baseball with his wedding ring, getting his catcher to cut the ball with the buckles of his shin guards and using mud pies he had planted around the mound to load into his baseball. Ford was not afraid to admit that he cheated, in fact he said:
“I don’t want anybody to get any ideas and take my Cy Young Award away. And I didn’t cheat in 1963 when I won twenty-four games. Well, maybe a little”.
2. Albert Belle
In 1994, Cleveland Indians had a bat confiscated by an umpire as they believed it may have been corked. It was locked in a dressing room, and as Albert Belle knew the bat was tainted he decided to come up with a plan to retrieve it.
While the Indians played against the Chicago White Sox, they sent Jason Grimsley to the changing room, where he climbed through the drop ceiling and replaced the bat with their teammate Paul Sorrento’s bat. They couldn't replace it with one of Belle’s as they were all doctored with.
Unfortunately for Belle, Grimsley left behind a vast amount of evidence when completing the mission. They found a load of broken tiles in the changing room, which led to an investigation, which led to Belle being banned for 7 games.
1. Graig Nettles
This could possibly be the most embarrassing of the list, it is a shame I cannot find any footage of the incident. In 1974, New York Yankees baseman, Graig Nettles hit a home run but his luck ran out on his next turn when his bat broke and superballs came out of the bat.
“I didn't know that there was anything wrong with the bat,” he said. “That was the first time I used it. Some Yankees fan in Chicago gave it to me and said it would bring me good luck”
We’re not quite done yet, although he did not make it into the top 10 biggest cheats, I felt that Barry Bonds deserves a special mention. Not only is it rumoured that he sold steroids to Garry Sheffield but he allegedly used insulin, trenbolone and human growth hormones, testosterone decanoate, all during the season that he hit 73 home runs in 2001.