Sports Law Blog
All things legal relating
to the sports world...
Thursday, March 04, 2010
Fame and Infamy

In comments to my post about Roger Clemens, Ed Edmonds poses an interesting question:

Hasn't Jackson's banishment from baseball actually served to keep him in front of the baseball public for so many years? Does the average fan know as much about Tris Speaker, Nap Lajoie, Honus Wagner (if not for the baseball card) as they do about Jackson? Perhaps Rose can make more money selling his autograph because the controversy keeps his name before the public.

Ed is onto something about Rose remaining in the spotlight (and able to make money) because of his banishment--at least from 1989 until 2004, when he could play the aggrieved victim of unfair treatment (remember his Jim Gray interview at the 1999 World Series). That all ended when he published his book in 2004 and admitted (although without really apologizing for) what everyone already knew. He has rarely been heard from since.

Jackson remains relevant today because he is a singular figure, based on a combination of his greatness and his banishment. He remains more relevant than the other seven banned Black Sox because he was the best player and the only one unquestionably left out of the Hall of Fame because of the ban. He remains more relevant than his other Hall-worthy contempories (Lajoie, Wagner, et al.) because we still have something to talk, argue, and make movies about--whether he did anything wrong and whether the ban should be lifted and he should be redeemed with induction to the Hall (or at least a chance to play in an Iowa cornfield).

Will we remember Rose 90 years from now more because he has been banned than we will remember Hall contemporaries (say, Reggie Jackson or Tony Perez)? Maybe. Will we remember him more than if he just were let into the Hall? Maybe. One distinction could be between record-holders and "other" Hall-of-Famers. Rose was nowhere near the best player of his (or any other generation) or even the best hitter, but he does hold a significant career batting record. So perhaps, even without gambling, we would remember Rose more than we do Perez, just as we remember Ty Cobb more than we do Lajoie.


This article is interesting. You should read my article about Jason Heyward on my blog.

Blogger Seatown Fan -- 3/04/2010 6:41 PM  

I would like to think that we remember Cobb more than Lajoie because Cobb was the better player. Lajoie was very very good. Cobb was one of the all-time greats.

But it may be that we actually remember Cobb because he was such a spectacular son of a bitch. They didn't get Tommy Lee Jones to play Lajoie, after all.

Anonymous Richard Hershberger -- 3/05/2010 3:29 PM  

Post a Comment