Some baseball historians consider Hal Chase to be the greatest defensive first baseman in the game’s history. However, “Prince Hal” might be more well-known for his reputation as the most corrupt player in the era of professional baseball. Chase likely began supplementing his income by throwing baseball games from his first appearance in the major leagues and continued to fix games throughout his career, earning a reputation as a great player who couldn’t be trusted.
Despite being considered a great fielder by his peers, Chase also holds the American League record for errors by a first baseman. In retrospect, it’s likely a sign of how willing he was to bungle an easy play when he needed his team to lose. Chase was first accused of throwing games in 1910 by his New York Highlanders manager George Stallings. Instead of getting rid of him, Highlanders owners fired Stallings and made Frank Chance player-manager. Chance had the same complaints about Chase and he was traded to the White Sox in 1913.
The first real strike against Chase came in 1918, when he was accused of attempting to bribe his teammates and opposing players to influence the outcome of games. Chase was able to beat that charge due to a lack of evidence, but a copy of a check he received from a known gangster for allegedly throwing a game later in the year proved to be his undoing. He was blacklisted from both the American and National Leagues. Further accusations came in 1919 when he was named as a person who helped facilitate the throwing of the 1919 World Series by the Chicago White Sox.
Chase would attempt to keep playing, moving to the minor leagues of California. But that would end in disgrace as well, as he attempted to bribe an opposing pitcher and the umpire to rig a game in 1920. Chase would never play a meaningful game of organized baseball again. He was a player-manager for a semi-pro team in Douglas, Ariz., in 1925 that also included Black Sox castoffs Buck Weaver and Chick Gandil.