Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mike Piazza, were hands down the best players at their positions in their era. Yet when it came time for Hall of Fame voting, the powers that be gave them and others the big thumbs down. Bonds, Clemens, and Piazza, along with Sammy Sosa were all denied access to the Cooperstown on their first ballots due to steroids allegations.
The Hall of Fame will induct three new members in Cooperstown, N.Y., this summer. Umpire Hank O’Day, the owner Jacob Ruppert and a catcher, Deacon White all made the cut. All three died in the 1930s and were voted in by the veterans committee in December. As a result, baseball will hold its annual Hall of Fame ceremony next July without a single living honoree on stage.
The highest vote this time around went to Craig Biggio, who received 388 votes and was named on 68.2 percent of the ballots cast. Biggio, a former Houston Astro who ended his career with 3,060 hits, fell 39 votes short of election. Bonds, meanwhile, was named on 36.2 percent of the ballots and Clemens on 37.6 percent.
Every player on the ballot was active in the era before steroid testing, which began, with penalties, in 2004. But some have escaped suspicion, like Biggio, who fared well in his ballot debut and is likely to be inducted in the next few years.
Others, like the former Mets catcher Mike Piazza and the former Houston first baseman Jeff Bagwell, were muscle-bound sluggers in an era when many such players were taking steroids. They are viewed skeptically by some but have never been linked to performance-enhancing drugs, and both got more votes than Bonds and Clemens: 59.6 percent for Bagwell and 57.8 percent for Piazza in his first time on the ballot.
The player with the second highest percentage was Jack Morris, the former ace of the Detroit Tigers, the Minnesota Twins and the Toronto Blue Jays. He received 67.7 percent. It was the 14th appearance on the ballot for Morris, who has one more year of eligibility on the writers’ ballot and faces a crowded field of candidates next year.
In addition to Bonds, Clemens, Sosa and the other holdovers, voters will consider a strong class of newcomers, including Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas, Mike Mussina and Jeff Kent. All will be on the ballot that writers will receive in December 2013. Writers can vote for no more than 10 candidates.
This was a resounding referendum on the “steroids era” of the late 90’s and early to mid 2000’s where muscle bound players put up ridiculous numbers all under the skeptical eye of the writers who hold the critical votes. All players have more chances to get in, but it seems more than likely that as a show of strength, the writers will keep all players who were accused of using steroids during those times out until it comes time for the veretans to vote.