Former MLB pitcher Jack McDowell alleges ’80s White Sox, Tony La Russa cheated with camera

Former MLB pitcher and 1993 AL Cy Young winner Jack McDowell alleged in a radio appearance Friday morning that the White Sox had an illegal sign-stealing operation at old Comiskey Park in the late 1980s, and that Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa was the instigator of the scheme.

Speaking to WFNZ-AM in Charlotte, where he serves as baseball coach for Queens University, McDowell said the White Sox had a camera zoomed in on opposing catchers and a light in an outfield Gatorade sign that could be controlled from the manager’s office and would presumably let hitters know which pitches were coming.

“I’m going to whistle-blow this thing now, because I’m getting tired of this crap,” McDowell told the station.

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McDowell then said that La Russa, who managed the White Sox from 1979 to 1986, was the one who had the camera installed. McDowell debuted with Chicago in 1987, the season after La Russa left.

“He was also the head of the first team … with people doing steroids,” McDowell said, referencing La Russa’s decade-long stint as manager of the Oakland A’s, which included managing infamous steroid users Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire. “Yet he’s still in the game making half a million. No one’s gonna go after that.”

La Russa worked the past two seasons in a front-office role with the Red Sox (who are also under investigation on allegations of illegal sign-stealing) after a stint in a similar role with the Diamondbacks. He was recently hired by the Angels as a senior adviser. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014 after a stellar managerial career that included three World Series titles — one with the A’s and two with the Cardinals.

“This stuff’s getting old, where they target certain guys and let other people off the hook,” McDowell said. ” … Everybody who’s been around the game knows all this stuff.”

McDowell’s comments on the ’80s White Sox came as he explained that illegal sign-stealing has been happening for decades, but that players, managers and MLB itself have collectively decided to look the other way, much like the steroid era.

“Nobody wants to throw anybody under the bus,” he said.

McDowell, a three-time All-Star, pitched in parts of 12 MLB seasons with the White Sox, Yankees, Indians and Angels, compiling a career record of 127-87 with a 3.85 ERA and 27.8 bWAR. In his 1993 Cy Young season, McDowell went 22-10 with a 3.37 ERA and 4.4 bWAR. He’s been coaching at Queens since 2018.

Listen to his full interview with WFNZ here.

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