Womack: How Benny Kauff went from ballplayer to bootlegger

From SABR member Graham Womack at The National Pastime Museum on June 7, 2016:

A decade after Kenesaw Mountain Landis banned Benny Kauff for life from baseball for his connection to a car theft ring, the former Giants outfielder returned to New York looking for work.

“I could play ball again but they won’t let me,” Kauff told the New York Sun on May 6, 1931. “I’m only 42 years old and I’d like to swing at that lively ball, which is funnier than the ball we had in the old Federal League. But I know I never will not as long as Landis is on the job. One jam—and I was through for life. But it’s too late to holler foul now.”

Kauff was acquitted in May 1921 for grand larceny, though Landis let his ban stand. By 1931, Kauff had been arrested at least seven more times, with six of the arrests for violating Prohibition laws and one for helping steal $10,000 from the safe of a Columbus, Ohio, store. He’d also played briefly for a Coshocton, Ohio, team, sued the Giants unsuccessfully for lost salary, and had been barred from a Columbus track for “practices detrimental to horse racing.”

Kauff came to New York after finally receiving a five-month suspended jail sentence for alcohol possession and transportation on March 21, 1931, with the understanding he’d leave Columbus for good within 10 days.

Read the full article here: http://thenationalpastimemuseum.com/article/how-benny-kauff-went-ballplayer-bootlegger

Originally published: June 7, 2016. Last Updated: June 7, 2016.