Every good story needs a villain and that is no different in professional sports. Let’s take a look at 10 of the most hated baseball players in MLB History.
The all-time leader in hits in Major League Baseball history isn’t even recognized in the Hall of Fame due to Rose gambling on Major League baseball games. After reports arose that he had bet on baseball, Rose was questioned in February 1989 by Baseball Commissioner Peter Ueberroth and NL President Bart Giamatti. Rose stated that he had bet on football, basketball and horse racing, but denied the allegations of betting on baseball.
Sports Illustrated gave the public their report of the allegations that Rose had placed bets on baseball games on March 21, 1989. On August 24, 1989, Rose voluntarily accepted a permanent place on baseball’s ineligible list. On February 4, 1991, the Hall of Fame voted formally to exclude individuals on the permanently ineligible list from being inducted into the Hall of Fame. Rose has repeatedly applied for reinstatement but to no avail.
Belle was hated by rival fans, most of the media, and numerous players in the league. Belle’s refusal to talk to the media left a negative portrayal of his image. In 1994, Belle was suspended for 7 games for using a corked bat. Another suspension of Belle occurred when he picked up a foul ball and struck a heckling fan over his substance abuse issues.
Belle also has had legal troubles off the field including arrests for stalking a former girlfriend and a DUI/Indecent Exposure arrest in 2018. Belle was also a part of a lawsuit accusing Belle of attempting to run over a juvenile with his vehicle who had “egged” his residence.
Speaking of corked bats, that brings us to our next player on our list: Sammy Sosa. Sosa went from being one of the most beloved players in the league to one of the most hated. On June 3rd, 2003, Sosa was ejected after umpires discovered his bat was corked. MLB followed up his ejection with an 8-game suspension.
That doesn’t end the controversy with Sosa, Sosa was also named in a list of players who tested positive for performing enhancing drugs (* spoiler* you may see other players from the list as you continue reading). The list introduced the infamous “Steroid Era” in baseball and has prevented Sosa from being inducted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.
Canseco changed the landscape of baseball after releasing his autobiography: Juiced. The tell all book shed even more light into the baseball steroid era implicating many names including himself, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmerio, and Jason Giambi just to name a few.
Following the success of Juiced, Canseco released a second book titled Vindicated where he implicated fellow list members Albert Belle and Alex Rodriguez. Outside of baseball, Canseco has been arrested for numerous offenses including carrying a loaded weapon, aggravated battery against an ex-wife, domestic battery against another ex-wife, and a probation violation after failing a drug test for steroids.
There are very few athletes that have had a bigger fall from stardom than Alex Rodriguez. The 14-time all-star toted a .295 career batting average, 329 stolen bases, 2,086 runs batted in, and totaled 696 home runs during his career. Numbers like that should guarantee Rodriguez enshrinement in the baseball Hall of Fame.
However, Roriguez like many other athletes, was linked to steroids. His entire 2014 season was spent with a suspension due to performance enhancing drugs. Rodriguez denied claims of steroid use but eventually admitted to the accusations in an interview with ESPN. Teammates of Rodriguez even gave him the nickname of “A-Fraud.” Rodriguez was also voted the second most hated player in baseball in a 2012 Men’s Journal article that polled 100 MLB players.
Rocker was a relief pitcher for the Atlanta Braves in the late 90s. Rocker made controversial comments in an interview with Sports Illustrated. During that interview, Rocker was asked about ever playing for the New York Yankees or New York Mets and his response went as follows. “I’d retire first. It’s the most hectic, nerve-wracking city. Imagine having to take the 7 Train to the ballpark looking like you’re riding through Beirut next to some kid with purple hair, next to some ….. with A, right next to some dude who just got out of jail for the fourth time, right next to some 20-year-old mom with four kids. It’s depressing.
Rocker continued the interview with disparaging racial slurs and remarks about various ethnicities. Rocker also insulted the entire New York Met fan base with his comments. Like many other players on this list, Rocker was also mentioned in the Mitchell Report for allegations of steroid use.
Buckner was the most hated player in Boston Red Sox history until their recent World Series wins. Before their 2004 and 2007 World Series wins, Boston had not won a World Series since 1918.
Boston was primed to break that drought in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series until Buckner fumbled a ground ball costing the Red Sox Game 6 where they eventually lost Game 7 and the series to the New York Mets. Boston fans forgave Buckner and gave him a standing ovation in 2008 as he threw out the first pitch in the home opener.
You would be hard pressed to find a more hated team in baseball currently than the Houston Astros. Leading that hatred of the team, would have to be their former MVP Jose Altuve. Most of the hatred stems from the 2017 cheating scandal, when Houston was involved in a sign-stealing scandal in which the team used video, buzzers, and trash cans to help relay signals to the hitters.
Altuve denied the usage of the buzzer system but did admit that the Astros used trash cans to steal signs. Altuve stated that he did not want to be a part of it. Altuve’s former teammate Carlos Correa backed his claims that he did not want to participate in the sign stealing. Regardless of that, Altuve still is one of the most hated baseball players currently in Major League Baseball.
Few current players are more controversial than the former Cy Young winner. While playing for Cleveland, manager Terry Francona went to remove Bauer from the mound. Instead of handing the baseball to his coach, Bauer decided to throw the ball over the fence. Bauer was traded to Cincinnati shortly after this incident.
The controversy does not end there as Bauer has also been accused of using pine tar on his pitching hand to help grip the baseball better and was suspended for two years amid accusations of domestic battery and sexual assault charges. While Bauer was never criminally charged, teammates unanimously did not want him back on the team. Bauer currently pitches in the Nippon Professional Baseball League based in Japan.
The poster child for the steroid era of baseball belongs to Barry Bonds. Bonds holds the single season home run record (73), and also the all-time leader in home runs with 762. However, those records will forever have an asterisk next to them due to being linked to steroids and specifically BALCO and Major League Baseball Hall of Fame does not recognize Bonds as the home run leader.
Bonds has a very tumultuous relationship with the media as well during this playing career which he has since apologized for. However, one thing Bonds has not apologized for, was his involvement with steroids and performance enhancing drugs. Bonds has never admitted to steroid usage and has even been found guilty of obstruction of justice for his involvement in the investigation.
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