Former Cy Young Winner Alleges '80s White Sox, Tony La Russa Cheated with Camera


Over the course of the past week, record suspensions have been handed out, an accomplished general manager has been fired and three managers previously held in high regard have lost their jobs in connection to the Houston Astros' sign-stealing scandal.

You get the sense that the can of worms may just be opening.

Friday, Jack McDowell - a three-time All-Star that won the 1993 American League Cy Young Award - added on some claims of his own in regards to stealing signs in a manner that most would say goes beyond pushing the envelope. He said that Hall of Famer Tony La Russa, who managed the Chicago White Sox from 1979-1986, orchestrated a system to help the team gain an edge offensively.

"We had a system in the old Comiskey Park in the late 1980s - the Gatorade sign out in center had a light, there was a toggle switch in the manager's office and camera zoomed in on the catcher," McDowell said on Mac Attack on WFNZ. "I'm gonna whistle blow this now because I'm getting tired of this crap. There was that, Tony La Russa is the one who put it in. He was also the head of the first team where everyone was doing steroids. Yet, he's still in the game making half a million, you know? No one is going to go after that. It's just, this stuff is getting old where they target certain guys and let other people off the hook."

RADIO.COM's St. Louis affiliate, KMOX, has reached out to La Russa for comment on McDowell's claim and also had St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Shildt on, who vehemently defended LaRussa when asked about McDowell's allegations.

McDowell isn't the first to make this point. Whether La Russa was part of using video to steal signs in the 1980s or not, he's in the Hall of Fame as a manager. Given that he won three World Series titles, no one's debating the merits of his record on paper.

However, the most prominent player to play for him was Mark McGwire. McGwire led the Oakland Athletics, managed by La Russa, to a World Series title in 1989. He set a new record for home runs in a single season in 1998, while playing for the La Russa-managed St. Louis Cardinals. He's not in the Hall of Fame because of his admission that he used performance-enhancing drugs. However, La Russa, who managed McGwire, Jose Canseco and a slew of other stars connected to performance-enhancing drugs, received 100 percent of the vote on the Expansion Era Committee's ballot in 2014.

In fairness to La Russa, he's said that he believes all of the elite players from the Steroid Era should be in the Hall of Fame, although the plaques of players connected to performance-enhancing drugs should feature asterisks. Of course, his plaque features no such annotation, despite having benefitted from the performance of said players. The same goes for Joe Torre, who managed Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez and a bunch of players that have either admitted or are credibly connected to having used performance-enhancers while he managed them. Torre was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014 as well, and is MLB's chief baseball officer.

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La Russa also remains employed in baseball, as a senior advisor of baseball operations for the Los Angeles Angels. Alex Cora, A.J. Hinch and Carlos Beltran are unemployed because of their connections to the Astros' scandal. It's fair to wonder if there will even be any thought given to La Russa being removed from his role in the sport given these allegations.

For a long time during the fallout from the Steroid Era, baseball struggled with exactly how deeply they wanted to dig into allegations that could potentially create larger scandals and tarnish the legacies of people previously viewed as icons in the sport. The Astros' scandal may put commissioner Rob Manfred in a similar bind, but it's hard to argue with McDowell's point that baseball scandals never seem to end with universal accountability.

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