For the first time since 1996, no MLB players were elected into the Hall of Fame. First of all, to earn a ticket to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, the player must obtain a vote on 75% of the 569 Baseball Writers Association of America’s ballots. Each writer may only vote for 10 players. In addition, a player is only eligible for possible membership into the Hall of Fame after 5 years of retirement and only for 15 years after their retirement. This particular year, 37 players were on the ballot.
After there was a Hall of Fame “shutout,” there was speculation that no one was elected because of allegations that three of the most accomplished players on the ballot (Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Sammy Sosa) had used performance-enhancing drugs. Despite the fact that he holds the record for most home runs in a career, Bonds was turned aside by the Baseball Writers Association of America, garnering only 36.2% of the votes. Although Bonds actually did test positive for performance enhancing drugs, he claimed in court that he did not knowingly use them. This led to a huge cloud of doubt over his name and although he never served a suspension, he was still the center of many whispers and suspicions. Sosa, 8th on the all-time home run list, also tested positive for performance enhancing drugs (and later perjury), but was never suspended by the MLB. He earned appeared on 12.5% of the ballots of the BBWAA. Clemens, in his own right, was a phenomenal pitcher. Despite the fact that he struck out the third-most batters of any pitcher, Clemens was also surrounded by allegations of performance enhancing drugs. He repeatedly dared Congress to have him testify in front of them, and in February of 2008, he did. Once again, Clemens was never at any point in his career, suspended by the MLB. Roger Clemens earned 37.2% of the vote.
Although these three players may have put up breathtaking statistics, they did not have the integrity and character to punch a ticket to Cooperstown. However, if these three were the only players who were specifically identified amongst performance enhancing drug allegations, why was everyone else denied a spot in the Hall of Fame? Deserving players, such as Houston Astro greats Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell, were only seen on 68.2% and 59.6% of the BBWAA ballots respectively…
Even though the players written about in Jose Canseco’s Juiced and Senator George Mitchell’s Mitchell Report were not necessarily convicted, they were viewed as guilty, liars, or cheaters. Thus, anyone associated with the Steroid Era of baseball (early 1990s-present) who has any signs of doubt around them is automatically seen as a cheater. Honest, kind-hearted, and humble players were unfortunately denied a chance to be in MLB’s Hall of Fame this year and in many peoples’ eyes, it is a poor reflection of the game said to be America’s pastime.
Conner Hoyt ’15