LOS ANGELES-In the eyes of Major League Baseball Hall of Fame voters, justice has been served. Everyone knew this day was going to come eventually when this year’s class of potential inductees would have to answer to the piper for deeds done that have been eating away at the integrity of the sport. Alleged steroid use is what it is called.
Leading up to Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame voting last week, many people speculated who would and who would not get elected into Cooperstown. The banter mostly fell along the lines of who would not get in because this year’s MLB class was lined up with some of the game’s greatest players.
However, these once revered athletes have been tainted with allegations of illegal steroid use that enabled them to take their game from superstardom to iconic stature. Of course, the sportswriters who cover major league baseball used their moral judgment to deny all-time home run king Barry Bonds, pitcher Roger Clemens and slugger Sammy Sosa entrance into baseball’s exclusive honor club.
If you take into account of the sportswriters’ power to stand unanimously to block Mark McGuire’s path into the Hall of Fame, you have four of the greatest players to play the sport in the last two decades sitting on the sidelines while their storied careers become mute because of a bunch of overreaching sportswriters and reporters who have the gall and arrogance to become judge, jury and gatekeeper to what is right and what is wrong with the sport of baseball.
But there are a lot of former major league players who agree with those voters to keep these men shut out of the loudest signature a baseball player can achieve after his career is done, and that is to be formally acknowledged as one of the game’s best. Several ex-baseball stars attending the 10th Annual Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation’s “In the Spirit of the Game” gala, echoed the voters’ thinking.
Bobby Tolan, who played 13 seasons in the big leagues, is among baseball’s fraternity that believes that Bonds, Clemens, Sosa and McGuire, should be kept out-at least for now.
“To be honest with you, I was pleased with the voting that no one was put in the first year,” Tolan said. “Then you had all the controversy about the steroids and all that kind of stuff. Some of those guys will get in, but it may be another three to four years down the road. Everybody has their own opinion.
“I was just happy that at some point they brought up Pete Rose’s name. I still believe he belongs in the Hall of Fame based on his baseball record and career and not all that other stuff. The same with those guys that are not in…Bonds and Clemens, based on their baseball stats, they’re Hall of Famers. The other thing is what is keeping them out of the Hall of Fame right now. ”
Bonds swatted 762 career home runs, besting the previous mark of 755 set by the great Henry “Hank” Aaron. Hall of Fame voters said no way to Bonds’ first time at-bat for entry into the hallowed entity. Oh, by the way, Bonds captured seven league MVP honors and smashed a season-record of 73 dingers. He didn’t come close to getting the right amount of votes needed.
Clemens piled up a stupendous 354-184 career record with 4,762 strikeouts and won seven Cy Young Awards. Apparently, that didn’t matter to Hall voters. The cloud of allegations that the burly Clemens used steroids got him rejected as well. Ditto for the once-engaging Sosa, who bopped 60 or more home runs in a season three times enroute to a career total of 609 four-base blasts.
Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda, the former Los Angeles Dodgers skipper, has been an outspoken proponent against Bonds, Clemens and Sosa receiving such a noteworthy honor. When asked about his thoughts about the matter, Lasorda quipped matter-of-factly, “It’s tough. It’s a tough society. It’s tough to get in it.”
Pitcher Ferguson Jenkins, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1991, was blunt in his assessment about the voting process.
“They’re not going to put anybody in there that cheat,” Jenkins said. “All these guys would have probably been in the Hall of Fame the first half of their careers if they hadn’t cheated the second half.”