Span: A-Rod might join an elite list, players banned for life

From Emma Span at Sports on Earth on July 27, 2013, with mention of SABR member John Thorn:

It’s hard to know what’s actually going to happen between Alex Rodriguez and Major League Baseball, with so many different possibilities swirling around. Anything from a 50-game suspension to trial by combat now seems feasible.

One of the more eyebrow-raising reports has baseball commissioner Bud Selig considering a lifetime ban from the sport, or at least threatening one to force a deal.

The words “banned from baseball” immediately call to mind Pete Rose, a Hall of Fame-caliber player who’s ineligible for that hall — still a point of contention among fans and people in the game, forgiven by some, a pariah to others — but still the all-time hits leader, whether you like it or not. And, of course, there’s Shoeless Joe Jackson and his fellow Black Sox, banned as a group in 1920, in some cases with excellent reason, in others more dubiously.

When it comes to blacklists and bans, though, those guys are just the most famous cases, the tip of the disreputable iceberg. While they’re now extremely rare, in baseball’s early days, “bans were handed out like breath mints,” as MLB’s Official Historian John Thorn put it.

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Originally published: July 29, 2013. Last Updated: July 29, 2013.