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Old 01-07-2004, 01:50 AM
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Default Betting on games (lomg)

Posted By: jay behrens 

In light of Rose's admissions, I thought this was very interesting.

Press release from non-SABR guy Howard Rosenberg.

For Immediate Release: 4 P.M. EST, January 4, 2004

Contact: Howard W. Rosenberg, (703) 841-9523 or (Web site:

2004 Definitive Biography of Hall of Famer Mike Kelly to Show Chicago 3,000-Hit Batsman Anson Bet at Least 57 Times on Regular Season Baseball; Boston Manager Selee (1999 Inductee) Bet at Least Six Times

From 1876 to 1900, the first quarter-century of the National League, there were at least 162 bets on the regular season by players, managers and club officials, a 2004 definitive biography of Hall of Famer Mike Kelly will show. According to author Howard W. Rosenberg's close reading of the newspaper record, Kelly made the second-most bets among players up to 1900: seven. By a landslide, a Kelly contemporary and his former captain-manager in Chicago, Cap Anson, figured in the most bets: fifty-seven.

Kelly's bets tended to be for small stakes, like a new hat, while Anson's were often for $50 or more, or at least $1,000 in today's dollars. Most of the top bettors in 19th-century baseball were club officials. Here is a list of the top ten (actually 12, because of a three-way tie at number 10), which includes several Hall of Famers:

1. Cap Anson (57), Chicago's longtime captain-manager; Hall of Famer

2.(tie) Jim Mutrie (9), mainly as manager of the New York Giants, and his bets were mostly with Anson

2. Edward Talcott (9), millionaire stockbroker as treasurer of the New York Giants

4.(tie) Mike Kelly (7), mainly as Boston's captain; Hall of Famer. He is popularly referred to today as "King Kelly" or Mike "King" Kelly, but Mike Kelly
is what he was most commonly called.

4. Frank Robison (7), Cleveland owner

6.(tie) Frank Bancroft (6), as manager and business manager, mainly in Cincinnati

6. Andrew Freedman (6), New York Giants owner

6. Frank Selee (6), Boston manager; elected to the Hall of Fame in 1999. All of Selee's bets were from 1895 on. In 1894, he told Jack Drohan of the
Boston Traveller that betting "is not in my line, but I will present anybody with a complete outfit of clothes, from hat to shoes, who will name the team that will beat the Bostons out in the race."

6. Harry Von der Horst (6), Baltimore owner/treasurer

10.(tie) John T. Brush (5), Indianapolis and Cincinnati owner

10. Buck Ewing (5); New York captain, Cleveland player and Cincinnati manager; Hall of Famer

10. Ned Hanlon (5); as Detroit captain and Baltimore manager and part-owner; Hall of Famer

While market- and focus group-driven journalism has led the modern sports media to largely ignore subjects from U.S. sports in the 19th century, Kelly
and Anson definitive biographer Rosenberg has been methodically amassing data on that very era for a series of books featuring Anson. The first, the topically arranged Cap Anson 1: When Captaining a Team Meant Something: Leadership in Baseball's Early Years (2003, foreword by Clark C. Griffith), presented a chronology of 536 fines or suspensions of big league players by their clubs from 1876 to 1900, as well as data for the 2001 and 2002 seasons. Although it does not appear in Cap Anson 1, Rosenberg has compiled similar data for the 2003 season and can make it available to the news media upon request. Applying his expertise, Rosenberg corrected the count of Yankee captains in June 2003 when, with great fanfare, Derek Jeter was announced as number eleven; the real count, which to Rosenberg's knowledge has been amended by just one news outlet to date, is more like 14 or 15, and adds in Hall of Famers Clark Griffith and Frank Chance).

What is likely to be the only exhaustive presentation of extensive major league betting on baseball over a number of decades will appear in the appendix of
Rosenberg's spring 2004 book, Cap Anson 2: The Theatrical and Kingly Mike Kelly: U.S. Team Sport's First Media Sensation and Baseball's Original Casey at the Bat,. The details will fill 31 pages and all sources will be named in endnotes (footnotes that appear at the back of a book). Beyond the scope of the appendix are Anson's offers of bets or actual bets on Democrat Grover Cleveland in the 1888 and 1892 presidential election, and on Republican William F. McKinley in 1896. However, the exciting political spirit of the late 19th century, especially establishment figure McKinley's victorious contest
against populist Democrat William Jennings Bryan, likely encouraged widespread betting on baseball. Many consider the 1896 election one of the most pivotal in U.S. history.

For 2005, Rosenberg is planning a full-blown biography of Anson. Besides coinciding with the 100th anniversary of Anson's own great political feat
(election as a Democrat as city clerk of Chicago, the city's number three post), the 2005 book will flesh out Anson's singular status in major league history.
Anson 1 wrapped around him the superior powers that captains and captain-managers used to hold during games over nonplaying managers (Anson's nickname
"Cap" stemmed from the way he carried himself as captain). It also presented the advent of discipline in baseball (which, as a funny subject, largely died
out with Bob Uecker and Jim Bouton in the 1960s). The 2004 Anson 2, besides detailing Anson's extensive betting, relates him to the equally singular Mike
Kelly. Kelly played for Cincinnati, Chicago, Boston and New York, with minor league stints most notably in Columbus, Ohio, and Allentown, Pa. Anson 2 argues
that Kelly was the most likely model, if any single player was, for the title character in the 1888 poem ''Casey at the Bat,'' and plays up the theatrical careers of himself and Anson (and ties to famous actors of the day including Drew Barrymore's great-grandfather, Maurice Barrymore). While teetotaler Anson was a WASP and bossy with a bluff personality, Kelly, of Irish descent, liked to fool around and have fun with Victorian Era standards set by the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant establishment. Kelly, one of the most prolific drinkers in the game's history, arguably received the wittiest coverage of anyone to play the game.

Contemporaneously, but almost never in the racism-drowns-out-all-over-kinds-of-morality standards of today, Anson was portrayed as honorable, starting at age 23, when he decided not to back out of his Chicago contract for 1876 to return to Philadelphia, his team from 1872 to 1875. Anson had committed to
sign with 1876 Chicago President William Hulbert and captain-manager Albert Spalding without consulting his wife-to-be, Philadelphia native Virginia Fiegel.
Anson said he "wilted" when she protested and then tried to gain his release by offering Chicago $1,000, about $20,000 in today's dollars. Recalling the
episode in 1891, then-Chicago President Spalding said, "I knew Anson then and I have trusted him implicitly ever since. He is, to-day, the same honest, clean hearted fellow he then was."

Because Anson was seen as so honest, besides being a huge gate attraction, he was able to bet readily on the regular season. In addition, he was by far
the most famous player to stick with the National League in 1890 during a mass defection of top players to create a rival league that lasted just one season. His betting prowess, on all types of sport especially his own billiards play, likely contributed to his bankruptcy in 1910. He then spent much of his last 12 years on the vaudeville stage telling stories about his baseball days. Born in Marshall Township, Ia., renamed Marshalltown in 1863, he played in the first 27 seasons of big-league ball: 1871 to 1897. His teams were: Rockford, Ill. (1871), Philadelphia (1872-75) and Chicago (1876-97). He managed the New York Giants for a few weeks in 1898.

In contrast to recent decades, betting on baseball was legitimate in much of Anson's day, especially in his 22 National League seasons. From 1878 on, the rules of the National League merely barred betting on one's team "to lose any game of ball.'' In none of the 162 bets that Rosenberg found did a player, manager or club official directly bet on his team to lose. Many of the bets were on their team's finish in the final standings including relative to another.
While allowing players and owners to freely bet on their own teams, many big league teams did not allow sales of alcohol in the ballpark or play on Sundays. In that era, much of baseball's weekly fan base, especially in the National League, came from those morally opposed to sales of alcohol or violation of
Sunday as a day of rest. But in reading through the 19th-century newspaper record, Rosenberg found minimal popular concern about players betting on

Rosenberg culled the betting data by surveying newspaper reports on big league ball in the 1876-1900 National League, 1882-91 American Association and
1890 Players' League. The American League became a big league in 1901.

The true number of 19th-century bets is likely much greater than 162, although Rosenberg noticed few multiple bets by players who were not their team's
captain, captain-manager or player-manager. Apparently the players who did the most betting through 1900 were veteran ones in leadership positions such as captain, captain-manager or player-manager and whose honesty was relatively difficult to question. Rosenberg found one bet by an active umpire. In 1888, National League umpire John Kelly, of no relation to Mike Kelly, bet St. Louis
American Association President Chris Von der Ahe $75, about $1,500 today, that St. Louis would not win the association pennant. St. Louis did win it.

Here is a sample of reports on betting that will appear in Cap Anson 2:

In 1888, Boston had a 1-0 lead at home in the first inning. Boston captain Kelly proposed to bet a hat on the game and Chicago captain-manager Anson agreed. The Boston Globe reported the result: "Kelly will get a hat on the next trip to the West [to Chicago]."

Anson bet New York pitcher Ed Crane $100, about $2,000 today, that Chicago would have a better record in 1889. Crane disclosed the bet in a letter to Jim
Mutrie, his manager, from Melbourne, Australia, where Anson and Crane were on a world tour led by sporting goods magnate and Chicago President Spalding.
Mutrie presumably gave the letter to the New York Sun. Here is part of it:

I have bet Anson $100 that we beat him out next season. No! you [Mutrie] can't have half of it, it's too sure. Well Jim, what do you say to eating
strawberries with Christmas chimes ringing in your ears, while you are hugging a stove and drinking hot tea?

New York would win the pennant in 1889.

In 1893, Anson bet Boston Treasurer James Billings $200, about $4,000 today, that Chicago would have a better record from May 30 to the end of the season. A week later, Anson mentioned the bet in a letter to Chicago President James Hart, to show he felt Chicago would play well the rest of the year. Anson lost the bet and paid it the following June, during a series at Boston.

Some have argued that Anson should be ineligible for the Hall of Fame because he was opposed to playing against black players, which arguably led to the sport's color line not broken until Jackie Robinson in the 1940s. Few have argued about his eligibility based on his betting, perhaps because few are aware of it. An exception is Paul Forrester of New York's Village Voice, who in 1997 questioned the election of nine players to the Hall of Fame. Anson had racist views, he said. Also, Anson was "so confident of his managerial prowess that he bet on his own Chicago ball club."

Up to 1900, and far more so in the National League than the American through 1919, when some Chicago White Sox threw the World Series for money, betting
on baseball was respectable. The reaction to the expulsion of four players on first-place Louisville in 1877 for betting against their team was to
distinguish between betting on one's team and not against it. Still, a temporary chill may have been cast, as the first noncontroversial reports of betting on baseball by big league players, managers or club officials do not appear until the early 1880s.

Many in the 19th century, but not today, probably saw betting by athletes on their teams as perfectly natural (akin to how baseball today encourages
betting by fans on fantasy-league teams). Just as how sports media today tend to sound shocked when it comes to racist figures in sports history, those in the 19th century would likely be shocked at how baseball players and club officials are not trusted today to bet purely on their own team's chances. A December article with quotes from former Dodgers manager Tom Lasorda about betting on one's own team can be found at:

(if the link does not work when you click on it, please cut and paste it into your Web browser)

Rosenberg's 31-page study, possibly the first methodical study of legitimate betting on baseball over a number of decades, will be published in the
spring as part of Cap Anson 2, but is available to the media immediately by contacting him at (703) 841-9523 or via e-mail, at

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Old 01-07-2004, 05:41 AM
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Default Betting on games (lomg)

Posted By: Kevin Cummings

I'd be willing to bet (ooops, better not go there) that there are far more people in the Hall of Fame that bet on games than we know about. There are already many we do know about.

Yes, I know "the rules are the rules," and the reason the rules were imposed was to remove the temptation of participants to adversely affect the outcome of the game. If you want to go strictly by the rules, then there is no leeway.

I, however, feel that while breaking the rule is wrong, there can be mitigating factors. If, for instance, it can be proven that your bets were always for your own team to win, then it would seem that you would not have done anything to adversely affect the outcome of the contest. In fact, one might argue that you'd fight harder to win. Under those circumstances, I don't see betting as a big deal.

As to Pete Rose specifically, he may be a jerk and a liar, but we've debated ad nauseum that it's not your personality or personal habits that gets you elected to the Hall of Fame.

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Old 01-07-2004, 11:01 AM
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Posted By: Todd

As regards 19th century conduct, while it may have been detrimental to the game, there are some huge diffferences between what happened then and the Rose situation. First, as noted, the rules only prevented betting against your team. While I would not condone betting at all as advancing the integrity of the game, times and mores were different, and the rule was what it was. Following the Black Sox scandal, it became more than abundantly clear that betting would not be tolerated, and the matter was later taken so seriously that the prohibition was posted in every clubhouse. I would like to see a study or analysis of players betting on baseball since 1930--I presume it would be short reading.

As for Kevin's remarks, I believe it is nearly if not exactly as bad to bet on your own team in individual contests, for reasons I outlined in the Rose may rot thread. Stacking your lineup on given days certainly may impact the team's chances in the following games, and actually could adversely affect individual player's careers, all to the self-interest of the person doing the stacking.

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Old 01-07-2004, 11:02 AM
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Default Betting on games (lomg)

Posted By: warshawlaw

Let's put this into perspective: the 19th century guys bet when it wasn't against the rules to bet. Rose bet when it was against the rules to bet. This is not about personalities (Rose is one of the most pleasant HOF caliber guys at shows), it is about actions. As far as betting on your team being benign, it is not. I can think of any number of scenarios where a bettor-manager could manipulate his team to the detriment of the players: risking an injury by leaving in a Barry Bonds in a meaningless late season game to try to get another insurance run, overusing a #1 pitcher or pitching staff, encouraging an injured player to tear himself up even more, bribing or convincing an opponent with nothing to gain from a victory to slack off (Cobb and Speaker got nailed for this in the 18920's, but were let off the hook).

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Old 01-07-2004, 02:42 PM
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Default Betting on games (lomg)

Posted By: Kevin Cummings

Since there are a few lawyers on the board, let me pose them a hypothetical question:

If Pete Rose retained your services for $1 million to convince someone (a judge, a jury, a Hall of Fame panel, whomever) that he belonged in the Hall of Fame, how would you craft your case?

Defense lawyers get insane axe murderers (who usually lie about what they did, too) off on technicalities all the time. It doesn't make the axe murderers nicer people, but it does make them not guilty. Could a good lawyer do that for Pete Rose?

If I'm not mistaken ESPN may have done something just like this, but I was so disinterested that I didn't watch and don't recall the outcome. Believe me, I don't feel strongly enough to say that Pete absolutely belongs in the Hall in spite of his flaws. It just makes for good debate.

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