Mention the word "steroid," and baseball fans slam the doors to their glass houses. But, the truth is that America's pastime has long been associated with abominable behavior. Baseball history reads like the script of the greatest reality television show ever produced.
We're not even talking about the usual suspects, either. You know the ones: the 1919 Black Sox fixing the World Series, Pete Rose betting on baseball, Barry Bonds ... being Barry Bonds. No, look farther into the back of major league baseball's deep, dank closet-behind the steroid skeletons, beyond the bench-clearing brawls-that's where the most curious behavior in baseball history resides.
Claim to infamy: Beat up a one-handed heckler in the stands
Story: We've all been there, haven't we? Suffering endless abuse and catcalls from that one-handed coworker, who's constantly criticizing and pointing out our flaws with an accusing finger from his good hand. But out of respect for their one-handedness, we rise above it. Because deep down, we know that fighting a one-hander is pretty much a lose-lose situation. If you win, you're "That Guy Who Beat Up One-Handed Ned From Marketing." And, if you lose, well "ÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂ¦ have you considered maybe hitting the gym a bit more?
Unlike us mere mortals, though, Ty Cobb took one look at his one-handed heckler and decided to hell with the consequences: Stumpy was going down. On May 15, 1912, Claude Lueker, missing one hand (along with three fingers of the other), heckled Detroit Tigers outfielder Cobb for three entire innings. That's when Cobb leapt into the stands and gave Claude the beating of his two-fingered life. Luckily for Cobb, this was 1912. What we wouldn't give to see the media shitstorm that'd result if a ballplayer beat seven kinds of shit out of a handicapped guy in full view of everyone in the middle of a game, today.
Claim to infamy: Among other things, raised his dukes to one of his baby-mommas
Story: Baseball enthusiasts love to talk statistics, so take a look at Tampa Bay's Elijah Dukes. Since age 13, he's been arrested six times, impregnated a 17-year-old foster child (classy), spawned five children with four different women-one of whom he later threatened to kill-and fought with any manager or teammate he's ever come in contact with.
These would be impressive stats for a lifetime career felon; you really have to applaud in wonder that Dukes managed to accomplish all this before age 23, with a long, doubtlessly embarrassing career ahead of him. Assuming Dukes can stay healthy and isn't forced to seek psychological help at some point for his misanthropic, profoundly unbalanced behavior, we project sportswriters in the year 3007 will still be talking about deviant Dukes as the most notorious athlete of the millennium.
Claim to infamy: Cut his girlfriend's cat's head off with a knife
Story: In Dwight Gooden's autobiography Heat, Gooden claims he arrived at New York Mets outfielder Kevin Mitchell's house to find his friend drunk and belligerent. At some point during the events that followed, Gooden claims Mitchell picked up his girlfriend's cat and, to teach his girl a lesson, sliced off the cat's head.
As despicable as it is that professional athletes are constantly getting loaded on whiskey and taking out their poor play on loved ones, it's sadly become so commonplace these days that it's almost a clichÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂ©. So as much as it pains us to admit it, you really have to hand it to Mitchell for going that much further in his efforts to ensure his depravity went down in history.
Plus, not to give any dignity to his actions, but it's not like a cat's made of room-temperature butter or anything. Yes, the act of slicing one's head off is sickening. Still, you have to admit, he must have been pretty committed to getting the job done. Well, we know at least one guy who'd appreciate our point.
Claim to infamy: Killed a dove with a 95-mph fastball
Story: More cheery animal stories. As the story goes, there was a merry band of doves that lived in the ballpark rafters. During games they'd soar through the infield, delighting the crowd of onlookers and lifting their spirits. Children pointed and smiled as their eyes filled of wonder at nature's glory. Look, son! Look at it soar so ... Holy shit, that bird just fucking exploded!
Yes, technically it was an accident, but the Big Unit, a gnarly-looking sin of a man, has made a career out of throwing bird-exploding pitches within inches of grown men's noses. He in essence commits attempted murder, or at the very least reckless endangerment, every time he takes the mound.
Claim to infamy: Ran down trick-or-treaters with his vehicle
Story: Put yourself in Albert's shoes. There he was, sitting in his living room circa 1990, watching Seinfeld and minding his own business. All of a sudden the doorbell rings. Not only was it a bunch of goddamn kids dressed like hooligans, but they also had the stones to issue Belle an ultimatum-either give them a treat or receive a mysterious "trick" in retribution. Nobody gives Albert Belle ultimatums, especially not in his own goddamn home.
So Belle did what any law-abiding citizen would have done: He leapt into his car and chased helpless children around his property, clipping one with the fender. We here at CRACKED salute Albert for finally dealing with the problem instead of just talking about it. Quite honestly, it's about time someone did something "ÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂ¦ to those children "ÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂ¦ with a car fender.
Claim to infamy: Used a lucky dwarf to win the World Series
Story: Historically, baseball players are superstitious beings. They never talk to the pitcher during a no-hitter. They jump over the baselines when taking the field. But in 2004, the year the Red Sox won the World Series, Martinez took baseball's superstitious lunacy one hilariously, crazy step further by posing for photographs while holding Nelson de la Rosa, a 2-foot actor who befriended the pitcher in the same way a gardener might hold a lucky garden gnome.
But here's the thing about Pedro's lucky dwarf: After the 2004 season, Martinez left Boston for free agency and joined the New York Mets. We don't know how they do it in the Dominican Republic, but on the mainland, when we leave one team for another, we pack our lucky dwarfs and take them with us. Now, Pedro is with the Mets and the poor, abandoned dwarf has since passed on to that big goldmine in the sky. Doctors claim it was heart failure caused by the dwarf's condition. But, we know the sad truth: He died of a broken, little dwarf heart.
Claim to infamy: Involved in the baseball drug scandal of 1985
Story: This is why we all go to the ballpark-to eat some hotdogs, watch some baseball and maybe score a little cocaine off the fuzzy mascot between innings.
The Pittsburgh drug trials of 1985 opened the country's eyes that maybe, just maybe, ballplayers weren't the milk-drinking, vitamin-taking, All-American boys we thought they were. Among the revelations that came out of the court testimony was that Keith Hernandez revealed nearly 40 percent of major leaguers were using cocaine. Tim Raines even claimed he kept a vial in his uniform pocket, taking care to slide into bases on his stomach so he wouldn't break it.
But of all the dirty laundry that aired, nothing tops the image of Pirate the Parrot walking around the ballpark stoned out of his mind, leading the youngsters in Take Me Out to the Ball Game while trying to make an extra buck in the bathrooms selling crank from a satchel tucked into his costume.
Claim to infamy: Pitched a no-hitter while tripping on LSD
Story: While playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Ellis claimed he dropped acid with friends, only to learn he was scheduled to pitch against the Dodgers that afternoon. Some of us at CRACKED have admittedly done the same at part-time jobs flipping burgers at Wendy's, though at least when we did it, we weren't getting paid six figures and having it nationally televised.
We can only imagine what was going through Ellis' mind as he faced each batter. We'd like to think it was similar to the movie The Doors, when the naked Indian was following Val Kilmer around and miming vaguely mystical shit at him. There had to have been dozens of naked Indians in the ballpark that day-some telling him which pitch to throw, others scattered in the outfield shagging fly balls and a few flashing him signs from the dugout.
Despite the no-hitter, Ellis walked eight and hit one batter, allowing nine Dodgers to reach base-making it possibly the sloppiest no-hitter in baseball history. The implications are clear: Naked Indians caused by psychedelic hallucinations don't know shit about pin-point accuracy.
Claim to infamy: Swapped families-wives, kids and dogs
Story: Free agency and trades are a part of baseball. But then there's this entry from our Dad of the Year files: In 1972, two New York Yankees pitchers, Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich, decided to swap their entire families. Kekich got Marilyn Peterson, a couple of kids and a poodle. Peterson came away from the deal with Susan Kekich, a couple of little Kekiches and a terrier. We're trying to imagine how Peterson broke the news to his son that he'd been lost to free agency: "Son, you've been a good son to this family. But daddy needs some strange. And, the hell of the coincidence is your Uncle Mike needs some strange, too. Now, this isn't the end for you, son. You're going to be an excellent son over at the Kekich household, and I expect you to be the same son over there that you were over here."
Peterson and the former Mrs. Kekich went on to marry and have four children of their own. Kekich and the former Mrs. Peterson never wed; some trades just don't work out. We assume all four Kekich-Peterson children involved in the swap went on to years of binge drinking and counseling, before acting out their lost childhoods in office shootings and failed relationships of their own.
Both dogs are probably dead.