The National League was created in 1876 and by 1903 (114 years ago), Major League Baseball was born. Even in its youth, the league had to deal with cheaters, but not the kind of swindlers you would think of today. Back then, it was about bribery, such as the “Black Sox” scandal of 1919. Today, cheating in the MLB is more synonymous with using performance enhancing drugs, but there’s always unique and rare cases.
To understand the ties between PEDs and the MLB and why it’s looked down upon today, here’s a quick history lesson. In 2003, the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO) was a business that supplied anabolic steroids to professional athletes and was under US Federal government investigation. Several important stars on this list were caught up in the investigation. In 2005, former player Jose Canseco, wrote a book, Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ‘Roids, Smash Hits & How Baseball Got Big and accused many stars of taking steroids. The BALCO investigation combined with Canseco’s claims triggered a Congressional hearing where many top players attended. Democratic United States Senator from Maine, George J. Mitchell, had a 20-month investigation into steroid and human growth hormone use in the MLB.
The “Mitchell Report” named many players linked to steroid use. Today, many of these players are still feeling the effects of their decisions. Some of us may be capricious about the punishment of those who get caught using steroids and, with the 2017 season ready to begin, who knows who may be popped next. With all that in mind, let's look at 15 of the biggest cheaters in baseball and where they ended up!
15 Miguel Tejada
Miguel Tejada lit the world on fire in 2002 when he put the Oakland Athletics on his back with a batting average of .308, 34 home runs, 131 RBIs, and 204 hits. He would become the American League MVP that year and would go on to have a several more seasons with similar stats. Instead of ending his career on top in the big leagues, he would retire while playing in the minor leagues. What changed?
Tejada would test positive for Amphetamine in 2013 and be suspended for 105 games. His name was always linked to steroids, but the results of the test were the death blow. Sadly, after making millions, he would file for bankruptcy in 2015. Today, he lives with his family in Florida raising chickens.
14 Gaylord Perry
Gaylord Perry never was caught using steroids to enhance his performance, but he did get caught tinkering with the baseball. Apparently, the Hall of Fame pitcher produced his 316-265 record with the help of Vaseline and spit. Ever watch the classic baseball film Major League? He’s basically the character Eddie Harris, who is played by Chelcie Ross. In 1982, Perry would be suspended ten games for doctoring the ball.
It was the first time he was caught, but most likely not the first time he pulled off the stunt. Today, the CY Young Award winner enjoys his Hall of Fame status and has been seen attending San Francisco games. He recently made headlines stating the MLB should put Barry Bonds into the Hall of Fame and not Pete Rose.
13 Jenrry Mejia
He doesn’t have the name recognition of Alex Rodriguez, nor the physical attributes of Mark McGwire, however, Mejia has been banned for life from the MLB. Yes, that’s right, he's the first player ever to be banned for life due to performance enhancing drugs. The New York Mets pitcher was suspended for 80 games in the 2015 season when he tested positive for PEDs. He then tested positive again that same year and a third time in 2016.
The ban from the MLB can be challenged and he could be reinstated by early as 2018. The indefinite ban didn’t stop the Mets from re-signing Mejia to a one-year deal for the 2017 season. At only 27 years old, he could still have an impact on the sport and must have some skills if the Mets are willing to resign him despite the ban.
12 Ryan Braun
Ryan Braun was living on top of the world when he became the National League MVP in 2011. That season, he tallied a batting average of .332, 33 home runs and 111 RBIs. The results of a urine test submitted by Braun were then leaked to ESPN’s Outside the Lines in December of that year. The results concluded that Braun tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone due to steroids. He would challenge the results and win. In 2012, Braun would have another epic season, putting up similar numbers to his MVP year.
In 2013, he would once again be involved in a controversy surrounding steroids and eventually admitted to taking PEDs in the last half of the 2011 season, thus ruining his MVP image. Today, Braun still plays for the team that drafted him, the Milwaukee Brewers, however, his name will always be linked to performance enhancing drugs. It seems like he stopped using the PEDs, as his numbers have been on a consistant decline since 2012...
11 Rafael Palmeiro
During his 20 year career as a first baseman and outfielder, Palmeiro would produce a batting average of .288, 569 home runs, and 1,835 RBIs. He would be considered a first ballot Hall of Fame nomination, however, the pristine image of his character would come crashing down in 2005. He would be accused by Jose Canseco of being injected with steroids and would be called in as a guest at the Congressional hearing in 2005.
He would deny any intentional involvement with steroids for several years, however, his name would be included in the Mitchell Report and he was suspended for testing positive for Stanozolol in 2005. Today, he regrets the choices he made and hopes to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, while enjoying watching his son play minor league ball for the Baltimore Orioles.
10 Manny Ramirez
He helped bring a World Series back to the Boston Red Sox after a drought that lasted from 1918 to 2004. Forever a saint in the eyes of Boston fans, Manny could do no wrong, however, the MLB thought differently when he was suspended for 50 games in 2009 for violating the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. From there, he got suspended for 100 games in 2011 for testing positive for a banned substance.
In his MLB career, the native of the Dominican Republic has produced a batting average of .312, 555 home runs, and 1,831 RBIs. At 44 years old, Ramirez is still playing the sport he loves. He signed with the Kochi Fighting Dogs of the Japanese Shikoku Island League Plus in January.
9 Albert Belle
This story has been lost with time, but it’s still a good one to tell. Albert Belle didn’t get caught for steroids, however, he infamously was caught using a corked bat on July 15th, 1994, while with the Cleveland Indians. Umpire Dave Phillips confiscated the bat due to White Sox coach, Gene Lamont, asserting the bat was illegal. Phillips would put the bat in his locker room and wait until after the game to examine it.
The Indians knew it was a corked bat, so they decided to send pitcher Jason Grimsley on an impossible mission. Grimsley slithered through a crawl space leading to Phillips locker and replaced the corked bat with a regulated one. “My heart was going 1,000 miles a second,” said Grimsley in an ESPN interview. Belle’s teammate, Omar Vizquel, also stated, “All of Albert’s bats were corked.” Belle would receive just a seven-game suspension for his actions.
Recently, Belle was inducted into the Cleveland Indians Hall of Fame in the summer of 2016 and became a first-time ballot on the MLB Hall of Fame for 2017.
8 Jason Giambi
Jason Giambi would make his MLB debut in 1995 for the Oakland Athletics and by 2000 he would become the American League MVP. After a 20 year career in the MLB, Giambi would finish with a batting average of .277, 440 home runs, and 1,441 RBIs. He would earn five All-Star appearances, two Silver Slugger Awards, and AL Comeback Player of the Year in 2005.
Like many other players, Giambi’s name was attached to the BALCO scandal that rocked the nation. His testimony in the 2003 investigation was leaked in 2004. He would make a nebulous apology in 2005, but would eventually admit to using steroids in 2007. Today, Giambi is a guest instructor for the Cleveland Indians in spring training. It’s possible he could become a coach sooner than later in the MLB.
7 Jose Canseco
After a 17 year career, Jose Canseco would end up producing a batting average of .266, 462 home runs, and 1,407 RBIs. The bulking All-Star was a four-time Silver Slugger Award winner, two-time home run leader and was a two-time World Series champion. In 2005, Canseco told the world he used anabolic steroids in his book, Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ‘Roids, Smash Hits & How Baseball Got Big.
At the time, he was vilified for his accusations because the steroid abuse scandal didn’t catch on with the public just yet. Treated as scum, Canseco would be vindicated when the MLB and Congress decided to seriously look at steroid abuse in the MLB. Today, Canseco still makes appearances in baseball, like in July of 2016, where he could be seen hitting dingers in a home run derby at a Double-A baseball game in Frisco, Texas.
6 Sammy Sosa
Sammy Sosa would make seven All-Star appearances, win the National League MVP, and become a six-time Silver Slugger Award winner in his 18 years of service to the MLB. Playing most of his career with the Chicago Cubs, it would seem he would also be a victim of the “Curse of the Billy Goat.” That curse was shattered when the Cubs won the World Series in 2016, but during Sosa’s career, it was a supernatural force to be reckoned with.
His last year in the MLB would be in 2007 and he finished with a batting average of .273, 609 home runs, and 1,667 RBIs. The New York Times reported in 2009 that he was on a list of players that tested for steroids in 2003. He was also caught using a corked bat that same year. Today, Sosa can be seen in the Dominican Republic and recently made controversial comments where he compared himself to Jesus Christ. Yeah, it didn't make much sense, so we won't get into it.
5 Roger Clemens
A terrifying pitcher in his era, Roger Clemens was an absolute monster and once in a lifetime talent for the MLB. Starting his career in 1984 for the Boston Red Sox, he would pitch for 24 years. In that time, he would rack up 354 wins, an ERA of 3.12, and seven CY Young Awards. The 11-time All-Star would also become a two-time World Series champion. Clemens would be another player accused by Jose Canseco of using steroids in 2005.
Clemens still denies intentionally using steroids after a long battle of litigation that took several years and his named being linked to the Mitchell Report. In 2016, Clemens at 53, played on the “MLB Star” team in the National Baseball Congress World Series in Wichita, Kan. One of his last public media appearances was playing golf with Joe Carter at La Quinta Country Club for the annual event CareerBuilder Challenge in January.
4 Mark McGwire
“Do you want to know the terrifying truth, or see me sock a few dingers?” The crowd chanted dingers and with the swing of the bat, McGwire,and the MLB deflected the suspicions the small town of Springfield had about their spy program. Thus, another great episode of The Simpsons ended.
McGwire may not be the NSA or Russian hackers, however, the guy was in deep trouble during the hunt for steroid abusers in the MLB. Spanning 16 seasons with the Oakland Athletics and St. Louis Cardinals, McGwire finished his career with an unbelievable resume. He had a batting average of .263, 583 home runs, and 1,414 RBIs when he retired. McGwire became the first man to reach 70 home runs in a season doing the feat in 1998 but his achievement would be a controversial topic involving steroids.
He admitted to using steroid in 2010 and still remains outside of the Hall of Fame. Today, he’s a bench coach for the San Diego Padres and his name is still on the Hall of Fame ballot.
3 Barry Bonds
73. That’s the number of home runs Bonds hit in 2001 when he broke the record for most dingers in a single season. It was a very exciting time to be watching baseball and Bonds was the biggest star the MLB had. People would be glued to the television or radio, just waiting to see or hear about another home run from this titan. Bonds debuted in 1986 and for 22 years he would destroy pitchers. He finished with a batting average of .298, 762 home runs, and 1,996 RBIs.
His amazing story came crashing down in 2003 when he became one of the main figures in the BALCO scandal. He was indicted on four counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice in 2007. Today, Bonds still holds out hope he'll be inducted into the Hall of Fame. He currently works as an advisor with the front office with his former club, the San Francisco Giants.
2 Alex Rodriguez
When Barry Bonds became tainted because of his scandals, the MLB looked to a new hero and found Alex Rodriguez. It was the wrong move as A-Rod would be suspended for the entire 2014 season due to violating the Performance Enhancing Drugs policy. He would lie and try to cover up his use of PEDs, thus making his situation more of a quagmire when he did get caught.
His name was linked to testing positive to the 2003 BALCO investigation, Jose Canseco accused him of using steroids in 2007, and he would then be caught up in the Biogenesis of America scandal, which provided him HGH several years later. Rodriguez would retire from the sport in 2016 with a total of 696 home runs and 2,086 RBIs. Today, he’s enjoying retirement with his millions of dollars and has recently be linked to dating Jennifer Lopez.
1 Pete Rose
We can quibble about the word cheater and in this case, we can ask ourselves did Rose ever tank any games to make money while gambling, but the fact remains Rose can't prove he didn't lose games for money.
He has the all-time record of 4,256 hits, a career batting average of .303, three World Series Championships, a National League MVP and Rookie of the Year award, three NL batting titles, and made the Major League Baseball All-Century Team. Rose is the greatest major league player to never be put in the Hall of Fame and was banned from the MLB when he was busted for gambling on the sport in 1989.
The investigation in 1989 found that Rose gambled $10,000 on 52 games in 1987. Rose finally admitted he did gamble in 2004 publicly, but said he never bet against the Cincinnati Reds, the team he coached. Today, Rose has eased himself back in the MLB community and has become a Fox Sports analyst. There's still a large number of supporters who want him inducted into the Hall of Fame.