There’s an old axiom that if you’re not cheating, you’re not trying (well, at least that’s what pro wrestling legend Eddie Guerrero said). The Houston Astros took that statement to heart and rode their cheating to the promised land. Which got us thinking about sports gambling scandals. So, in that vein, we thought we’d compile a list of the biggest cheaters in sports gambling history
Let’s start with the man pictured above – Charlie Hustle, Pete Rose. One of the greatest players in baseball history, Rose has not been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Why? Because in 1989 he was banned from baseball (and, subsequently, the Hall of Fame) for gambling on the sport while he was playing and managing the Cincinnati Reds.
After decades of denying any wrongdoing, Rose admitted in 2004 that he did indeed do what he was accused of. While things have thawed out between him and the sport since that time, he still is on the outside looking in at Cooperstown.
The Black Sox Scandal
The granddaddy of them all – the Black Sox Scandal. This one has spawned movies and documentaries and books. The 1919 Chicago White Sox threw the World Series against the Cincinnati Reds on behalf of a gambling syndicate led by the kingpin of the Jewish mob, Arnold Rothstein. While the eight players accused were acquitted in court, they were all banned for life from baseball. While the majority of the players involved had notable drops in performance during the Series, the most famous of them all, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, did not. While he admitted in sworn grand jury testimony to taking $5,000 in bribe money, he later recanted and protested his innocence the rest of his life.
1950/51 CCNY Point Shaving Scheme
The unpaid “student athletes” in big time college sports seem to be prime for the picking for sports gambling schemes, and that certainly was the case 70 years ago. In 1951, 32 NCAA basketball players from seven colleges were caught taking part in a mafia run point shaving operation. City College of New York was the biggest hit by the scandal, as their 1950 team won the NCAA as well as the NIT championships (the only time this has been done in history) and the majority of their top players were tied up in the scandal. Other schools involved were New York University, Long Island University, Manhattan College, University of Kentucky, and University of Toledo. While the most of the involved players received suspended sentences, a few did spend time behind bars.
Now for a more recent hoops related sports gambling scandal. Tim Donaghy, a NBA referee from 1994 to 2007, resigned in 2007 after it became public that the FBI was investigating that he was betting on games he was officiating in. Not only was he betting on them, he was found to be making calls to affect the point spread, or even the outcome, of games. Turns out he was a degenerate of the highest order, getting himself in deep debt, which he tried to dig out of by getting involved with a mob scheme to fix games (always a smart idea). He ended up being sentenced to 15 months in prison, and since his release he has been making claims of the NBA conspiring to fix outcomes of games, an accusation that the league has vehemently denied.