Getlen: The death-row inmates forced to play baseball for their lives

From Larry Getlen at the New York Post on September 14, 2014:

On a hot summer day in baseball-mad Rawlins, Wyoming in 1911, a tightly-packed crowd watched pitcher Thomas Cameron rear back and hurl a fastball toward home plate. The ball went wild, clipping the opposing player on the left shoulder before bouncing into the stands, allowing him to take first base.

Cameron was dying on the mound. In more ways than one.

A convicted rapist, Cameron was pitching for the Wyoming State Penitentiary All Stars, a team featuring only the hardest of hardened criminals.

Many in town, from local bar patrons to team captain George Saban — himself a convicted murderer — to the prison warden himself had substantial sums wagered on the All Stars to win.

The stakes for the convicts were higher than simply the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat.

Wins, they were told, meant time off on their sentences. Losses, however, came with consequences, write Howard Kazanjian and Chris Enss in the unbelievable new book, “The Death Row All Stars: A Story of Baseball, Corruption, and Murder” (Twodot).

“Individual errors that cost the team the win,” they write, “would result in death.”

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Originally published: September 14, 2014. Last Updated: September 14, 2014.