BEHIND BARS: Notable Major League Baseball players who broke the law

By Jesus Perez Vichot (Chuchi)

Unfortunately sport has also been linked in one way or another with crime and justice. Major League Baseball is no exception. There are many players who served or are serving years in prison for having committed a crime.

According to the seriousness of the act, this has been the sentence, fortunately not all have had to spend years behind bars. Some learned their lesson, but others even went so far as to reoffend and be judged on more than one occasion. This is not a pleasant topic, which everyone wants to write about, but it should not be ignored either, since it is also part of the lives of renowned players who at some point gave their best on a ball field.

Among so many baseball players who have served sentences, several names stand out that I want to share with you:

Peter Ramos: The Cuban pitcher was sentenced to 3 years for parole violation, although he served seventeen months (1981-1983).

Orlando Cepeda: The immortal Puerto Rican slugger was sentenced to 5 years for possession of marijuana. He but he was released in April 1979 after serving 10 months in prison.

Stephen Loaiza: The Mexican pitcher was sentenced to 3 years in prison for cocaine trafficking (20 kilos). He served jail time from April 2019 to August 2020.

Raul Mondesi: The Dominican gardener was sentenced to 8 years for public corruption and embezzlement. He has been serving a sentence since September 20, 2017.

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Ugueth Urbina: The star Venezuelan closer was sentenced to 14 years in prison for attempted murder. He served about 5.5 years (2006-2012).

Peter Rose: The all-time hits leader was sentenced to 5 months for tax evasion. He served from August 1990 to January 1991.

Mark Grace: The Cubs’ star first baseman was sentenced to 4 months for driving under the influence and endangerment. He spent more than 3 years on probation (2013-16).

Blue Life: The famous left-handed pitcher for the Oakland Athletics was sentenced to 3 months for trying to buy cocaine. He served 81 days (1983-84).

Oil Can Boyd: The bearer of one of the rarest nicknames in baseball served 120 days in prison for threatening to kill his lover.

Chad Curtis: The talented gardener was sentenced from 7 to 15 years for criminal sexual conduct. He was released in September 2020 after serving 7 years in prison.

Dwight Goodens: Doc, one of the best pitchers of the second half of the 80’s was sentenced to 1 year and 1 day for probation violation. He served about seven months in 2006.

Jerry Koosman: The left-handed pitcher who was a key player in the Mets title in 1969 was sentenced to 6 months in prison for tax evasion. Sentenced on September 3, 2009.

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Ron LeFlore: One of the best base stealers of his day was sentenced to 5-15 years for armed robbery. He served prison from April 1970 to July 1973.

Darryl Strawberry: The lanky slugger who dazzled fans in the ’80s and ’90s was sentenced to 18 months for violating probation. He served 11 months (2002-2003).

Willie Wilson: He was one of the best leadoff hitters of his era. He was sentenced to 3 months for trying to buy cocaine. He served 81 days (1983-84).

Those mentioned above, for the moment have not had any more problems with the law, but there are other players who were repetitive with the breach of the law. In this undisciplined group are:

Sammy Stewart: The right-handed pitcher won the World Series in 1983 and led the American League in ERA in 1981. He is also remembered for his record set as a rookie in 1978 by striking out 7 consecutive batters. But his figure is also linked to crimes. In the 80’s he had already had problems with alcoholism, bad driving and others, but he was in prison years later. He was sentenced to 2 years for possession of crack cocaine, of which he served seven months in 1991. For driving with a revoked license he spent five months behind bars in 1992 and for drug possession he also served two months in 1996. But this is not everything, because for possession of crack, drug paraphernalia and theft he served 2 months in prison in 1997. He was behind bars for four more months a year later (1998) for drug possession and for this same crime he served another 5 months in 2004. Until he reached his last sentence of 80-105 months for possession of crack cocaine, for which he served 80 months from 2006 to 2013.

Willie Aikens: The early ’80s first baseman for the KC Royals was sentenced to 3 months for trying to buy cocaine, but served 81 days between 1983 and 1984. Years later he was sentenced to 248 months for distributing cocaine. He was released in 2008 after serving 14 years in prison.

Lenny Dykstra: The 1986 World Series winner and two-time National League hits leader was sentenced to 3 years for being involved in a major auto theft and providing false information, serving 15 months between 2012 and 2013. He was then sentenced to 6.5 months for committing bankruptcy fraud, concealment of assets, and money laundering. He simultaneously served the previous sentence.

LaMarr Hoyt: The 1983 American League Cy Young Award winner, he was sentenced to 45 days for drug possession, but served 38 days in 1987. He was then sentenced to 1 year for a probation violation, for which he served 10 months in 1988. But this was not all, LaMarr was also sentenced to 7 months for possession of marijuana and cocaine with intent to distribute, serving 7 months concurrently with the previous term.

Denny McLain: The two-time American League Cy Young Award winner was sentenced to 23 years for racketeering, racketeering and cocaine possession, though the verdict was overturned after 30 months. McLain was later resentenced to 97 months for conspiracy, fraud, pension fund theft and money laundering.

Sources: The Cultural Encyclopedia of Baseball, BD, USA Today, New York Times, and Sports Illustrated.

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BEHIND BARS: Notable Major League Baseball players who broke the law