The Hall of Fame ballot was stacked this year but many of the names should have had an asterisk next to them. Sluggers Rafael Palmeiro, Mark McGwire, Jeff Bagwell and Juan Gonzalez didn’t come anywhere close to being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, due to their possible involvement in one of the worst times times in the sport – the Steroids Era.
Instead the voters elected Bert Blyleven and Roberto Alomar.
Alomar was picked on just his second try with 90 percent of the ballots by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, while Blyleven who won the honor on his 14th try was picked on 79.7 percent of the ballots. Alomar was a 12-time All-Star who won a record 10 Gold Gloves at second base and hit .300 in his career as he helped the Toronto Blue Jays win back to back titles in 1992-93. Blyleven was known for his wicked curveball and racked up 287 wins, 3,701 strikeouts and 60 shutouts in his 24 year career.
“It’s been 14 years of praying and waiting,” Blyleven told ESPN in a conference call. “I’d like to thank the Baseball Writers of America for, I’d like to say, finally getting it right.”
Palmeiro, McGwire, Bagwell and Gonzalez once again did not fare well in the election, with voters apparently reluctant to choose the high profile players who were in the middle of the steroid controversy.
Palmeiro was the lowest with just 11 percent in hist first try despite the fact that he is on the fourth player in MLB history to hit more than 3,000 hits and 500 home runs. The other three are Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Eddie Murray, all of whom have been elected to Cooperstown but that seems to be a moot point after the former Orioles great failed a drug test and was suspended by the league in 2005.
Bagwell got 41.7 percent in his first year and though he never tested positive and was adamant he never touched PED’s, many voters are unsure with the numbers he put up in the Steroid Era – .297 batting average, .408 on-base percentage, 449 home runs and over 1,500 RBIs.
McGwirre received 19.8 percent on his second try, a four percent drop from last year, but after admitting he took steroids he could have a lengthy wait if he ever wants to get into Cooperstown. Meanwhile Gonzalez barely got enough votes to remain on the ballot next year. The two-time AL MVP was implicated in Jose Canseco’s book of taking PED’s despite there never being any proof.
Alomar and Blyleven will be joined by Pat Gillick at the induction ceremonies on July 24. The longtime executive was picked last month and helped earn his place with a trade that brought Alomar to Toronto.
This year’s voting once again raises the question, will the kingpins of the Steroid Era ever make the Hall of Fame?