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Thursday, March 19, 2020

Today in Baseball History: When Mantle and Mays were banned from baseball

On May 14, 2018 the United States Supreme Court struck down a law that outlawed sports gambling in nearly every state. The ruling began the process of legalized sports gambling spreading all over the United States. It also resulted in a very strange new world for Major League Baseball: it basically got into the gambling business.

In November of 2018, Commissioner Rob Manfred announced that MGM Resorts would become the first ever “Official Gaming Partner of Major League Baseball.” MGM began to advertise its many casinos and resorts on MLB Network, MLB.com, the MLB At Bat app and the like. MGM, in turn, was given access to MLB’s official statistics for its online and casino-based sports books. That included “enhanced statistics” given to MGM on an exclusive basis. It was like the league and one of the world’s biggest gambling outfits were working together, hand-in-hand.

Which makes it sort of insane to remember that, not terribly long ago, Major League Baseball actually banned two of the greatest players in its history for merely agreeing to shake hands with people at a casino.

In 1979 Willie Mays, who had just been inducted into the Hall of Fame and who was severing as the New York Mets’ hitting instructor, signed a contract to be a “goodwill ambassador” for the Bally’s Park Place hotel and casino in Atlantic City. It was not a full-time job. Mays’ job was basically, to show up and be famous while doing meet-and-greets at corporate and charity events. Indeed, if anything, there was less of a chance that Mays could be involved in actual gambling with this job than before he had it, because under New Jersey law he had to register with the gambling commission as a casino employee and casino employees were prohibited from making bets. And, for what it’s worth, sports gambling wasn’t even available in New Jersey at the time.

Remember the good old days, when Bowie Kuhn was the worst Commissioner we’ve ever seen?

 

QLE Posted: March 19, 2020 at 01:00 AM | 0 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: ban, gambling, history, mickey mantle, willie mays

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