MLB: The 10 biggest cheats in baseball, and it doesn’t exclude the New York Yankees

William Parlee
New York Yankees, Aaron Judge, Jose Altuve
Jun 22, 2019; Bronx, NY, USA; Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve (27) talks to New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge (99) at second base during a pitching change during the sixth inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Throughout the history of sports, there have been cheaters, and that includes the New York Yankees.  From ice skater Tanya Harding to bicyclist Lance Armstrong to the Patriots and the Houston Astros, cheating has always entered into the results of sporting events.  Some cheating was relatively innocent to some that were totally outrageous.  Here is a look at this writer’s top ten baseball cheats.

10. Ty Cobb

It may be shocking to know that a name as famous as Ty Cob was involved in cheating at the game he is known for.  In fact, this cheating athlete was known to frequently trip base runners as they ran around the diamond,
step on infielders with his sharp cleats, and steal signs as well, maybe relatively minor compared to some, it shows that the best of athletes still cheat sometimes.

9. Whitey Ford

The beloved “Chairman of the Board” Whitey Ford did in fact cheat for the New York Yankees.  Apparently he would use his own wedding ring to cut open the baseball and then proceeded to put mud inside before pitching to the batter. He even conspired with his catcher, Elston Howard, who would use his shin guard to slice the ball as well.  Ford would later admit, “I used enough mud to build a dam,” referring to the 1963 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

8. Danny Almonte

Kids cheat at sports too.  Pitching sensation, Danny Almonte found a way to cheat.  There are rules in baseball, and these rules were broken in the Little League World Series of 2001.  Almonte was mowing down hitters with his 70mph fastball.  The age limit for Little Leaguers is 12. After the series documents turned up, proving Almonte was actually 14 years old giving him an unfair age advantage.

7. Kenny Rogers

In the 2006 World Series, something fishy was going on with Detroit Tigers pitcher Kenny Rogers in Game 2. While he was taking his spot on the mound, the cameras caught something strange. There was a strange substance on Rogers’ hand, which he later described as “dirt mixed with
rosin.”  The altered ball would not perform as expected.

6. Graig Nettles

Craig Nettles boasted a 22 year-long career in baseball. He earned himself the nickname “Puff” and played for the Montreal Expos, Atlanta Braves, San Diego Padres, New York Yankees, Cleveland Indians, and Minnesota Twins. In 1974, Nettles was caught cheating by way of using superballs, which are said to help hitters by adding an extra bounce to a bat.  When discovered, the balls were taken off the field, and Nettles was given a 10 game suspension.

5. Joe Niekro

Joe Niekro’s cheating method makes for an interesting addition to the vast amount of cheating methods that other players used. It’s unclear how
long Niekro was doing it, but it was in 1987 that he was caught.  He was pitching for the Minnesota Twins at the time, and during the game an emery board and a sheet of sandpaper fell out of his pocket.  Niekro was removed from the mound and suspended for ten games.

4. Gaylord Perry

Everyone knew that Gaylord Perry was using a “spitball” and it led to MLB making it illegal.  It’s a well-known fact that he would slab a nice helping of Vaseline underneath his cap, or even inside his sleeve. This was so that he could swipe it on the ball for a spitball. The additive you make the ball fly unpredictably.  Somehow this was overlooked, and Perry made it to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

3. Barry Bonds and company

From Barry Bonds to Alex Rodriguez the former New York Yankee the “steroid era” will forever affect the baseball sport and the validity of records for those players and the dozen upon dozens of undiscovered cheats. These groups of baseball cheats together comprised one of the most legendary and notorious examples of fraud in the history of modern sports. In the case of one of the greatest baseball players ever, Alex Rodriguez will never be considered for the Hall of Fame.

2. The New York Giants

The New York Giants came as close as a team to the cheating Houston Astros as a team could come. ESPN once called this 1951 team the “biggest group of cheaters in baseball history.” They would use an actual telescope in order to steal signs from the opposing team’s catcher. Once they knew what pitch the pitcher was about to throw, they would ring either a bell or a buzzer to inform the batter. Although the technic was ancient compared to the electronics used by the Astros it was just as egregious.

Pete Rose

Although not part of the top ten because it doesn’t involve actual cheating in a game, Pete Rose broke a cardinal rule by betting on baseball.  Suspended for life, this great baseball player may never enter the Baseball Hall of Fame, which he so richly deserves due to his clearly illegal deeds.

1. The Houston Astros

During this baseball postseason, the Commissioner of Baseball after an investigation determined that the Houston Astros when out of their way to electronically steal signs and relay them to hitters.  It may have cost the New York Yankee a World Series bid and may have cost the Los Angeles Dodgers a World Series win.  That is not to mention the stats of players they played against that year.  The New York Yankee player Aaron Judge may have missed out on the MVP for that year when Astros player Jose Altuve received the nod.

The sign stealing was so egregious that they were fined, their general manager and field manager were suspended and later fired.  It is still controversial as the Commissioner failed to strip them of their 2017 World Series title, and did not fine or charge any Houston Astros player for wrongdoing.