The Associated Press and Diversion Books have published “Banned: Baseball’s Blacklist of All-Stars and Also-Rans,” a comprehensive history written by former AP sports writer Hal Bock.
From Shoeless Joe Jackson to Jenrry Mejia, Bock delves deep into the ball players, umpires, coaches and others who were suspended from the game temporarily or, in some cases, indefinitely, using colorful anecdotes to paint a vivid picture of baseball's scandalous past.
For those who follow the current corporate era of businessmen players and billionaire owners, "Banned" serves as a reminder that America's pastime evolved from the days when gamblers filled the stands and influenced poorly paid scoundrels on the diamond.
John Thorn, Major League Baseball's official historian, writes in the introduction:
Hal Bock has chosen a subject of enduring fascination. Most of those banned from baseball over the years have been minor figures and, except for antiquarians, are shrouded in the mists of time. Other, more formidable players, prompt us — even decades after their deaths — to ponder the frailty of man, shake our heads and think what might have been.
Bock's thorough review spans from the late 1800s to present, covering everything from George Bechtel's expulsion for game fixing in 1876 — the first-ever player to be expelled — to the lifetime suspension handed down to Pete Rose in 1989 for betting on games, among other key moments.
Bock, a sports writer for more than 40 years, has covered myriad major sporting events, including 30 World Series, making him the ideal storyteller for this far-reaching retrospective.
"This is a fascinating and fun read about baseball's underbelly," said Peter Costanzo, AP's digital publishing and archival manager. "Hal's knowledge of the game, its history and his reverence for those who play it is evident on every page."
"Banned" includes an afterword by AP baseball writer Ronald Blum, as well as more than two dozen photographs from AP's archives.