A black eye doesn’t necessarily mean someone getting hit in the face and the swelling causes the area around the eye to blacken.
No, for the purpose of this article, we’re defining a black eye as something that reflects poorly on Major League Baseball. Players who have had negative impacts on the game of baseball throughout the history of the league, for example. You could look at players failing to comply with the rules as giving the league a black eye.
If you’re looking for a picture of a baseball player who actually had the biggest black eye in the history of the league, just do a Google Images search for Tony Conigliaro.
Over the last century or so, there have been a number of players accused and penalized for their wrongdoings—several in the last decade. There have been stars breaking the hearts of fans across the world for their own personal gain. Not everyone has been proven guilty, but the evidence does speak for itself.
Ahead are the five players who have left the biggest black eyes on the face of Major League Baseball during their time in the game.
All statistics in this article were obtained via Baseball-Reference unless otherwise noted.
Most of you reading this article probably weren’t alive during the early 1900s; I wasn’t, but I am still very intrigued over the events that occurred during the 1919 World Series between the Chicago White Sox and the Cincinnati Reds.
The two were the best teams in the league that season—the Reds finishing the year with a slightly better record—and met to determine the champion. Cincinnati won the World Series in eight games (5-3), but it was the accusations after the Fall Classic concluded that would stick in our minds to this day.
Eight players on the White Sox were accused of taking money to lose the World Series and were later banned by Major League Baseball, per Baseball-Reference. Shoeless Joe Jackson was the most notable player banned, as he hit .356/.423/.517 in his 13 seasons in the league. He’d arguably be a Hall of Famer without the ban.
For the last few years, Ryan Braun has been one of the biggest stars in the game of baseball. He’s been great for the Milwaukee Brewers throughout his career, but it recently became known that he cheated the game he supposedly loved.
Back in 2011, Ryan reportedly tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug (h/t ESPN), but won his appeal of the suspension. All was forgotten, as many just assumed the testing process was done incorrectly and Braun was clean. But the star outfielder quickly found himself in trouble again.
Just under a month ago, the league suspended Braun for the remainder of the season—65 games—for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal (h/t ESPN). While many players have been suspended for steroid use, Braun’s case is especially infuriating considering he denied it back in 2011 (h/t USA Today).
Barry Bonds was one of the best players to ever take the field, but unfortunately for him, he didn’t always do things the proper and legal way. But he still technically holds the records for most home runs in a single season and in a career.
Bonds got all caught up in the BALCO scandal, which began in 2003. In 2007, the outfielder was indicted on perjury and obstruction charges for failing to tell a federal grand jury that he did knowingly use performance-enhancing drugs, according to ESPN. He was convicted in 2011, per the Los Angeles Times.
While Bonds never went to prison for his wrongdoings and was never banned from baseball, he’s still feeling the aftereffects. He is easily one of the top five best players ever, but it doesn’t seem likely he’ll be enshrined into Cooperstown. He only received 36.2 percent of the vote this year, his first year on the ballot.
There was no stopping Pete Rose each time he stepped into the batter’s box. He had a keen eye for the game and was rarely stopped when he had a bat in his hands. He’s easily one of the best and most consistent hitters to play the game of baseball.
But Rose’s legacy has forever been tarnished. As Rick Weinberg of ESPN recounts, the Reds star was banned from baseball back in 1989 for betting on the game. Rose agreed to the lifetime ban from Major League Baseball, but signed a document stating he wouldn’t admit or deny that he did place bets, per Weinberg.
To this day, Rose is still banned and isn’t eligible to get inducted to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Rose ended his career after 24 seasons, hitting .303/.375/.409 with 4,256 hits, which are the most of any player ever. His hits record is arguably one that no one will ever manage to break.
This saga is just unbelievable, to say the least. Throughout the course of his career, Alex Rodriguez has been one of the more dominant players in the sport. He’s hit 648 home runs, which is the fifth most in the history of the game.
But A-Rod is just bad for baseball. In 2009, the infielder admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs (h/t ESPN). Now, A-Rod’s name has been the focus of the Biogenesis scandal. He’s been suspended through the 2014 season (h/t ESPN), but is appealing it and has still been playing for the Yankees in recent weeks.
While a 211-game ban may seem like a lot, Rodriguez is lucky that he wasn’t banned for life, which commissioner Bud Selig could have done, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today. This is a guy who admittedly cheated and is still playing. A-Rod doesn’t deserve to be on the field this year or any year going forward.