Those Brutal Ballplayers

Too much cheating, substance abuse, and violence among baseball players? Absolutely — 100 years ago. A great read from Tobias Seamon* in The Morning News:

Ty Cobb had a nervous breakdown in his rookie season; Pittsburgh’s Ed Doheny was committed to an asylum in 1903, with a local paper declaring “His Mind Is Thought To Be Deranged”; in 1907, Chick Stahl borrowed from the fiendish Bowery dive McGurk’s Suicide Hall and ingested carbolic acid; Patsy Tebeau, player-manager for the hard-drinking Cleveland Spiders in the 1890s, later shot himself; in 1900 Boston’s Marty Bergen slit his throat after killing his wife and two children with an axe; Hall of Famer Old Hoss Radbourn, who had half of his face blown off in a hunting accident, became demented from syphilis; the notorious drunk Bugs Raymond of the New York Giants once illustrated his curve by hurling a mug through a restaurant’s plate-glass window; Mike “King” Kelly drank himself into an early grave but not before creating the devil-may-care jock stereotype in America.

*He is also married to my niece.

Sean Webb

Yes, but they didn't have twitter accounts and made far less money. We are fine with poor behaviour as long as we can relate to the people doing it.


You just have substance abuse and violence in the list. A list of cheating in baseball is not complete without mentioning the Black Sox Scandal. Biogenesis may have resulted in several suspensions, but Black Sox resulted in eight players on a World Series team being banned for life for fixing the World Series and profiting from gamblers.

That's what I call "too much cheating".


While there are many incidents of poor behavior among athletes, there are a lot of athletes with good character and image, too. I'd like to see how the crime rate for professional athletes compares to the general population when adjusted for race and socioeconomic background. We are very judgmental of pro athletes because of their wealth and popularity, but I would suspect for many of them, poor upbringings are what shape their behavior.