Players continue to perpetrate fraud

With millions and millions of dollars at stake, the true age of a player is something a team needs very much to know.

Updated: January 19, 2004, 11:57 AM ET
By Jim Baker | MLB Insider
I used to work with a woman whose brother had played in the minor leagues. I was pretty impressed by this and used to ask to touch her arm on occasion so I could feel that much closer to greatness. (I won't reveal the name of the team whose system he was in because what follows was told to me as a friend and not as a member of the media and I don't feel it right to do a full expose on the guy.) Anyway, he was cut loose while still in A ball and was pretty bitter about the whole experience, she said. His one consolation, she added, was that he had put one over on them by lying about his age. He had reduced the figure by two years, meaning he was even less of a prospect than they thought.

The practice of lying about ones' age is par for the baseball course. It is one of the traditions of the game, in fact. Among the countless other lies Pete Rose has told in his life was one about his age. He is currently listed as having been born in 1941. Looking at a copy of the 1968 Sporting News Baseball Register, he is on the books as being born a year later. (That was when TSN was still listing hobbies in the Register. Rose's is "sports." The definition of a "sporting man" is one who wagers. Hmmm ... was he trying to tell us something?) Phillies Whiz Kid Mike Goliat passed away recently and his obituary listed him as being 82 at the time of his death. All the baseball reference books have him down as 78.

Albert Pujols
Pujols is on pace for 49 homers and 125 RBI.
In the wake of the Sept. 11 attack, increased scrutiny of immigration records has revealed that more than 500 current professional ballplayers misrepresented their true ages. Some of them were well-known, like Bartolo Colon. Most were not -- like the unfortunately named Jose (Ramon) Bastardo, a player who would have vexed headline writers everywhere had he made the big time. Another obscure player on this list was one who would be a welcome addition to the pantheon of great baseball names, a fellow called Mahler Bravo. Had he made the bigs, he would have an immediate place on the all-musical team next to Frank Viola, Bill Singer and, of course, Sam Horn. (Headline: "Fans Suite on Mahler" and so on ...) Bravo -- who is still pitching for Navegantes del Magallanes in the Venezuelan winter league -- pulled off a deception on a grand scale. It was discovered that he reduced his age by a whopping six years!
Jim Baker is an author at Baseball Prospectus and a frequent contributor to Page 2. You can e-mail Jim at bottlebat@gmail.com.

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