Baseball is America’s favorite pastime; but that doesn’t make the sport exempt from controversy. The MLB franchise has been home to some of the most controversial players in history and some of the most hated. From run-ins with the law, to strange behaviors and off-the-field controversies, this list of the 5 most controversial players in MLB history only touches the tip of the iceberg.
1. Alex Rodriguez
It seems that from the very beginning, “A-Rod” has been a magnet for controversy. Fans disliked his cockiness that was exemplified in a magazine shot involving him kissing himself. A-Rod was also caught with an exotic dancer which eventually prompted his divorce. He is known for his involvement with underground poker clubs and drug use. The most controversial moment for A-Rod came when he was suspended from baseball for drug use and he threatened to sue the New York Yankees over it. It seems that Alex Rodriguez’s controversies never cease.
2. Reggie Jackson
Voted as the most hated player who ever played for the Yankees by NY Daily News, it’s easy to see why Reggie Jackson became one of the most controversial players as well. Jackson even admitted that he was the “straw that stirs the drink”, and he seemed to avidly enjoy it. He was known not only for his powerhouse batting skills, but for clashing with his coach, teammates, and even Yankees owner. Jackson’s most memorable and controversial moment was when he was removed from a game in 1977 and fans all across the country when Jackson and manager Bill Martin had to be pulled away from each other.
3. Barry Bonds
This player was also voted one of the most hated players, but for the San Francisco Giants. Even though he was phenomenal player, he will never be remembered that way. He became a central figure in the sport’s steroids scandal and was indicted on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice in 2007 for lying to a grand jury. He lied to the grand jury about his alleged drug use after BALCO had marketed a new type of steroid that was undetectable by most tests. Many people described him as ungrateful and a difficult person. His use of steroids didn’t help his case much.
4. Ty Cobb
Most baseball fans can’t think of the sport without thinking of Ty Cobb. He was one of the original players in the major leagues, known for both his talent and his violence. His violent nature, as pointed out by Sporting News, will forever give him the label as one of the most controversial players of all time. He assaulted a heckling, handicapped fan, and was found guilty of assault or battery twice. Close to the end of his career he was also accused of game-fixing, although nothing was ever proved. Ty Cobb was even prone to sliding into bases with his spikes up and known for his avid racism.
5. Pete Rose
This Cincinnati Reds player is remember a lot like Barry Bonds- a great player who was hated afterward. Rose was an aggressive ball player, producing some seriously impressive numbers. He holds many records still to this day, including most major league records for most career games played, most seasons of 200 or more hits, and most career hits. Unfortunately, he won’t be remembered for any of that. He made the mistake of betting on baseball, earning himself a lifetime suspension from the game and a ban from entering the hall of fame. Now he has become one of the most hated players in history.
When it comes to baseball fans, it doesn’t take much to set them off. Fans and players alike are extremely passionate about the sport and it doesn’t take much to ruin a player’s reputation. But for these 5 most controversial players in MLB history, they earned their titles and dislike all on their own.