Source: MLB ineligible list ends at death for banned players

January 17, 2020

By Don Van Natta Jr., ESPN Senior Writer

Major League Baseball has shifted its view of deceased players who have been banned for life, a group that includes “Shoeless” Joe Jackson and the seven other Chicago White Sox players prohibited from playing professional baseball in 1921 for fixing the 1919 World Series.

A senior MLB source told ESPN that the league has no hold on banned players after they die because the ineligible list bars players from privileges that include a job with a major league club.

“From our perspective, the purpose of the ineligible list is a practical matter,” the source told ESPN. “It’s used to prevent someone from working in the game. When a person on the ineligible list passes away, he’s unable to work in the game. And so for all practical purposes, we don’t consider a review of the status of anyone who has passed away.”

The previously unreported change is potentially significant when it comes to the consideration of Jackson’s eligibility for the Hall of Fame. He has not been considered for decades despite numerous public and petition-writing campaigns to get him removed from baseball’s ineligible list.

In 1991, the Hall of Fame passed a rule declaring that any player ruled ineligible by Major League Baseball could not appear on a Hall of Fame ballot…

The shift in MLB’s view raises the question of whether the Hall of Fame’s Early Baseball committee would consider Jackson, Buck Weaver and Eddie Cicotte, all of whom were banned from playing professional baseball by commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis in 1921 despite being acquitted by a Chicago jury of fixing the 1919 World Series. A subcommittee will determine the 10 individuals who played or were involved in the game prior to 1950 who will appear on this year’s ballot, to be considered by the full Early Baseball committee this December.

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A spokesman for the Hall of Fame declined to comment. Manfred also declined to comment through a league spokesman.

“We’re agnostic about a player’s eligibility for the Hall of Fame, whether they’re dead or alive,” an MLB source told ESPN.

The shift in thinking has been pushed for years by some baseball historians, including John Thorn, the official historian of MLB, who first argued that the ineligible list ends with an individual’s death in an essay in February 2016. He made the case again in an op-ed in The New York Times last October upon the 100th anniversary of the fixed World Series between the White Sox and the Cincinnati Reds…

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