Last updated on: 5/10/2021 | Author: ProCon.org

Should Baseball Players Who Have Used Banned Substances Be Voted into the Hall of Fame?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)

The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum stated the following in its “Rules for Election to the Hall of Fame,” posted on its website (accessed Nov. 20, 2019):

“By authorization of the Board of Directors of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Inc., the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) is authorized to hold an election every year for the purpose of electing members to the National Baseball Hall of Fame from the ranks of retired baseball players…

Only active and honorary members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, who have been active baseball writers for at least ten (10) years, shall be eligible to vote…

Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.”

Nov. 20, 2019 - National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

PRO (yes)

Pro

Zachary D. Rymer, MLB Lead Writer for Bleacher Report, in an Apr. 17, 2020 article, “Which MLB Steroid Users* Deserve to Be in the Baseball Hall of Fame?,” available at bleacherreport.com, stated:

“[W]e recognize that many hold the position that zero players with ties to PEDs should be allowed into Cooperstown. As Joe Morgan relayed in an open letter in 2017, this is the official position of players who are already in the Hall of Fame: “We hope the day never comes when known steroid users are voted into the Hall of Fame. They cheated. Steroid users don’t belong here.”

However, allow us to… [explain] why we favor a case-by-case approach…

There’s no doubting the sincerity of those who believe Cooperstown is no place for juicers. Rather, the issue with that notion is one of naivete.

Per George Mitchell’s 2007 report on PEDs in baseball, steroids had infiltrated MLB at least a decade before Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa chased down Roger Maris’ single-season home run record in 1998. Heck, one former major leaguer has claimed steroids were in the game as far back as the 1960s.

If true, baseball’s Steroid Era wasn’t limited to the late 1990s and early 2000s. That, in turn, lends credence to whispers… that there are already users in the Hall’s halls…

Lastly, there’s the Bud Selig conundrum. If the commissioner can be in the Hall of Fame despite his failings during the Steroid Era, the same standard should be applied to players who defined the era.”

Apr. 17, 2020

Pro

Leigh Steinberg, sports agent, in a Jan. 17, 2019 article, “Time To Re-Examine Steroids and MLB Hall Of Fame,” available at forbes.com, stated:

“The criteria for Hall of Fame selection by the voting writers are “the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contribution to the teams on which the player played.” The baseball writers need to reach an honest consensus on whether steroid use disqualifies a player and be upfront about it. Bud Selig was commissioner during this period, and he is in the Hall…

If history is being rewritten and the steroid era has given us grounds for exclusion, the baseball writers should say so. Amphetamine use was once rampant; Mets star Daryl Strawberry commented: “You take amphetamines and the ball looks so big. It’s like you could hit anything.” Eleven players were suspended by MLB for amphetamine use. Use of that drug has not been openly cited as a criterion for exclusion. It is unfair to leave players like Bonds and Clemens out of the Hall unless the criteria are openly agreed on and real proof is presented of drug use.”

Jan. 17, 2019

Pro

Pete Blackburn, CBS Sports writer, in a Jan. 27, 2021 article, “It’s Time for MLB to Just Start a Steroid Wing in the Hall of Fame,” available at cbssports.com, stated”

“Baseball Hall of Fame voting season has become one of my least favorite seasons on the annual sporting calendar. The grandstanding and discourse around the HOF voting has become just the worst. We saw it once again yesterday [Jan. 26, 2021], when, for the ninth time in history, we found out that no players will be inducted as part of the 2021 HOF class…

The HOF can bury its head in the sand and try to pretend the steroid era didn’t exist, but Bonds is in the record books as baseball’s home run leader and he’s indisputably one of the best to ever play the game. He was well on his way to a Cooperstown-worthy career before the steroids — I mean, he was intentionally walked with the bases loaded in 1998 (a year before it’s believed he started juicing) and that should be an automatic induction.

Instead of completely shunning these obviously legendary talents that were tied to a league-wide steroid problem, why not just start a steroid wing of the HOF and let them have a semi-tainted induction that matches their semi-tainted career?”

Jan. 27, 2021

Pro

Paul Muschick, Morning Call columnist, in a Nov. 27, 2020 article, “Baseball Hall of Fame: Why it’s time to vote in Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and other steroid-era players,” available at mcall.com, stated:

“There are some great names on the [2020 Hall of Fame] ballot. They’re just all tainted because they played in the steroid era — Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Gary Sheffield, Manny Ramirez and Sammy Sosa.

Clemens and Bonds have been getting more votes in recent years. This is the year they should go in. Along with the others.

Many voters would have to hold their nose to check those boxes. But what better year to put them in than 2020? It’s been a year like no other in so many other ways.

Vote them all in together and get it over with.

These players, along with two others who didn’t make the cut, Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro, were super-talented. They were locks for the Hall of Fame if they hadn’t been caught up in allegations of performance-enhancing substances. For a few, that’s all it was, allegations. Others failed tests or admitted to using…

Allegations of steroids in baseball were tough to stomach. But shunning some of baseball’s best isn’t the answer.

Put them in, and note on their plaques any verified use of performance-enhancing drugs. Then move on.”

Nov. 27, 2020

Pro

Justin Tinsley, culture and sports writer for The Undefeated, in a July 18, 2019 article, “The Moral Argument for Keeping Barry Bonds out of Cooperstown Doesn’t Hold Up,” available at theundefeated.com, stated:

“Consider the story of Adrian Constantine ‘Cap’ Anson.

Cooperstown officially opened its museum doors on June 12, 1939. Anson, considered the greatest player and manager of the 19th century, was among the class of ’39 after being voted in posthumously by the Veterans Committee. He had the stats: The first member of baseball’s 3,000-hit club, he led the league in RBIs eight times and was a four-time batting champion who averaged .415 in 1872 and .399 in 1881, albeit in far fewer games than today’s standards (and even those numbers are apocryphal).

Anson, as many baseball purists are well aware, was a racist. Famously, on July 14, 1887, Anson, of the Chicago White Stockings, refused to play against the Newark Little Giants because of its black pitcher, George Stovey. It wasn’t the first time Anson had objected to competing against black players. But on this particular day, the directors of the International League met and decided that contracts would no longer be offered to black men except for those already employed in the league. In a separate gentlemen’s agreement, blacks were excluded from the major leagues beginning in 1885 and baseball’s color barrier would last another 60 years, until the name Jackie Robinson entered the American conscience and changed the course of history.

How can Major League Baseball, which proudly celebrates Robinson’s legacy every season, continue to keep Anson, who has become synonymous with the history of segregation in baseball, in its most hallowed halls while Bonds remains a pariah? Segregation was far more destructive than performance-enhancing drugs in regards to evaluating talent in baseball. This much is irrefutable. Baseball history would be completely different if players such as Josh Gibson and Satchel Paige had been given the opportunity to suit up against Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.”

July 18, 2019

Pro

Ken Davidoff, New York Post baseball columnist and voting member of the BBWAA, wrote the following in his Jan. 20, 2018 article titled “My Crowded Hall of Fame Ballot, with No Regard for the ‘Sacred Place,'” available at nypost.com:

“Enough already with talk of how inducting players who used illegal performance-enhancing drugs will ‘ruin’ the Hall, or relax’ its standards… To the contrary, the Hall’s only chance of being saved from irrelevance, of gaining acquittal from the serious charge of selective outrage, is for these guys to gain their earned place. For the voters to understand that their mission is not to police player-on-player crimes, but rather to look after the consumer, who has never been impacted one iota by illegal PED usage.”

Jan. 20, 2018 - Ken Davidoff

Pro

David Lennon, baseball columnist for Newsday, stated the following in his Jan. 18, 2019 article titled “Why Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens Should Make the Baseball Hall of Fame,” published on newsday.com:

“If you are keeping two of the greatest players in baseball history out of Cooperstown because they allegedly used performance-enhancing drugs, then I have a simple question.

Who didn’t?

That’s right. Name a single player, let’s say from 1984 through 2007, that never once experimented with PEDs, or leaned on them to speed up the rehab process, or dabbled to get some extra kick during a contract year.

Problem is, you can’t.”

Jan. 18, 2019 - David Lennon

Pro

Patrick Pinak, writer at FanBuzz.com, stated in his Sep. 16, 2019 article titled “Barry Bonds Belongs in the Hall of Fame. No Question,” available at fanbuzz.com:

“Barry Bonds deserves to be in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He does. You can’t keep the greatest player ever out of the game’s museum of best players… Bonds, whose career was clouded with steroid and performance-enhancing drug allegations, most certainly deserves enshrinement in the Hall.

It’s silly to pretend Bonds isn’t the single greatest power hitter in the modern era. He crushed a Major League-record 762 home runs and is baseball’s disputed home run king. He earned more walks than anyone in the history of the game, because he’s the most feared hitter to ever live… He won the 1990 and 1992 National League Most Valuable Player award with the Pirates. Bonds hit more than 30 home runs, stole more than 30 bases and hit higher than .300 in each of those seasons. It was clear that even before the steroid allegations he was a rare talent heading for superstardom.”

Sep. 16, 2019

Pro

Tom Joyce, a freelance writer, stated in a Jan. 21, 2019 article titled “Stop Pretending Steroid Users Shouldn’t Be in the Baseball Hall of Fame,” available at washingtonexaminer.com:

“The National Baseball Hall of Fame has done a poor job acknowledging some of the top players in MLB history in recent years…

The Hall of Fame should be about recognizing the achievements of the players, regardless of what it took for them to do it. Are we supposed to just pretend Barry Bonds never set the all-time home run record or that he never hit 73 home runs in a season? Are we supposed to pretend the great home run chase of 1998 between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa never happened and did not help the league’s popularity after the 1994 strike?”

Jan. 21, 2019

Pro

Ken Korach, lead play-by-play announcer for the Oakland A’s, stated the following in his Mar. 5, 2009 article titled “Let the Fans Put Their Own Asterisk on the Steroids Era*,” published in the Las Vegas Sun:

“I think Bonds, Clemens, McGwire, A Rod and the rest should be allowed into the Hall. History will define this period as the Steroid Era, and the court of public opinion will provide the necessary asterisk… [H]ow can you dismiss the guilty if you don’t really know who was clean? That’s not fair to the innocent and I feel for those clean players who are now guilty by association.”

Mar. 5, 2009 - Ken Korach

Pro

Bob Nightengale, Major League Baseball writer for USA Today, stated the following in his Jan. 5, 2015 article titled “Hall of Fame PED Hypocrisy Must End,” available at usatoday.com:

“What the last 30 years should have taught us, and the Biogenesis scandal reminded us, is that we have absolutely no idea who was clean, and who was dirty… I vote for the players who had Hall of Fame careers, regardless of their connections to steroids and performance-enhancing drugs… Come on, this isn’t the Sistine Chapel. We’ve let murderers, racists, and abusers in the Hall of Fame.

If you wanted to kick out every Hall of Fame player who ever illegally used amphetamines, you’d be able to fit the remaining players in an airplane bathroom.”

Jan. 5, 2015 - Bob Nightengale

CON (no)

Con

Brian Kenny, MLB Network analyst, as quoted by Zach Gelb in a Jan. 23, 2020 article, “Brian Kenny: I Wouldn’t Honor Clemens, Bonds With HOF,” available at audacy.com, stated:

“I’d like to see the character clause swing both ways. I’d like to see players like Dale Murphy and Don Mattingly get extra credit for being players that everybody in the game says they are the standard by which others should be measured. At the same time, are we outraged now about sign-stealing? I think everybody is. ‘Oh, this is terrible, they’re dirty, they’re cheating.’ Well, they were surreptitiously looking to gain an advantage. Well, what is taking steroids? Surreptitiously looking to gain an unfair advantage. That’s what these players did or are suspected of doing…

I go back and forth on this, but I would try to choose to honor the clean player,. I would rather give my vote to Fred McGriff than Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens. I don’t like it. I don’t enjoy all this steroid talk over the last 20 years. And yet, if I was choosing, I would say those guys, they cheated. They cheated other players, and I would choose not to honor them…

You’re responsible for your actions. These guys chose to surreptitiously take hormones – testosterone – to gain an advantage, and they had to do it systematically. It’s not something you did once and you made a mistake or you drove drunk or you got in a bar fight or something. No, this is something you did month after month, year after year. You chose to do it over the long haul. That is an organized, systematic way to cheat. So I would choose not to honor those guys with baseball’s highest honor.”

Jan. 23, 2020

Con

William Mattox, Director of the J. Stanley Marshall Center for Educational Options at The James Madison Institute, in a Dec. 15, 2018 article, “Barry Bonds’ induction to Baseball Hall of Fame would mock Hank Aaron’s untainted record,” available at usatoday.com, stated:

“The debate over Bonds’ candidacy typically comes down to whether one believes the Hall of Fame should honor anyone (like Bonds) who gained an unfair advantage by using performing-enhancing drugs. I fall squarely into the anti-steroid-users camp; but this isn’t the main reason I oppose Bonds’ candidacy — remembering black history is…

[Hank] Aaron’s rightful place as MLB’s All-Time Home Run King would be undisputed today were it not for Barry Bonds’ decision to keep playing until he (barely) broke Aaron’s record — even though Bonds knew that his own home run totals were tainted by multi-year steroid use…

Look, I know baseball history has lots of scoundrels. And I realize we’re talking about the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of Virtue. But Barry Bonds undermined the integrity of his sport by using steroids; and, even worse, he denied Hank Aaron the rightful honor of holding baseball’s most-hallowed record.

For these reasons, I hope the baseball writers who have yet to fill out their Hall of Fame ballot will decline to vote for Bonds. No, keeping Bonds out of the hall won’t change the record books. But it will make it easier for all of us to explain to our grandkids why Hank Aaron should still be regarded as baseball’s true Home Run King.”

Dec. 15, 2018

Con

Ross Newhan, former LA Times sports writer, as quoted by Jeff Passan in a Jan. 22, 2019 article, “Why Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens Aren’t Getting into the Hall of Fame,” available at espn.com, stated:

“Their use of chemicals to inflate body and performance was so far beyond circumstantial that it remains impossible to ignore, Do I feel badly about this given their Hall of Fame-worthy performances before what we call the steroid era? No, I think they took those Hall of Fame-worthy performances and cheapened them to such an extent it is impossible to ignore and was totally unnecessary.”

Jan. 22, 2019

Con

Chris Archer, Major League Baseball pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates, stated the following in a Jan. 17, 2019 tweet:

“If you ever failed a test, got suspended, or admitted to using performance enhancers you should NOT be in the hall of fame. No hard feelings but you disgraced the integrity of the game, your stats are tainted. You don’t deserve the honor.”

Jan. 17, 2019 - Chris Archer

Con

Fred Bowen, author and KidsPost’s Sports Columnist for the Washington Post, stated the following in his Jan. 11, 2017 article titled “Should Cheaters Get into Baseball’s Hall of Fame?,” available at washingtonpost.com:

“I think the baseball writers should keep the cheaters out…

It’s hard to say that a player who cheated by taking performance-enhancing drugs showed ‘integrity, sportsmanship [and] character.’

But even more important, I think the writers should keep the cheaters out because voting them in would set a terrible example for kids…

Parents and teachers tell kids it is important to be a good person. But it is hard for kids to believe that when they see people of questionable character getting lots of the prizes.

I think it would be great for the Hall of Fame voters to draw a clear line. If you cheat, you won’t get into the Hall of Fame.”

Jan. 11, 2017 - Fred Bowen, JD

Con

Joe Morgan, a former Major League Baseball player who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1990, stated the following in a Nov. 21, 2017 letter sent to all Baseball Hall of Fame voters, published by Joe Posnanski on medium.com under the title “Joe Morgan’s Letter”:

“We hope the day never comes when known steroid users are voted into the Hall of Fame. They cheated. Steroid users don’t belong here. Players who failed drug tests, admitted using steroids, or were identified as users in Major League Baseball’s investigation into steroid abuse, known as the Mitchell Report, should not get in. Those are the three criteria that many of the players and I think are right…

[A]nyone who took body-altering chemicals in a deliberate effort to cheat the game we love, not to mention they cheated current and former players, and fans too, doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame. By cheating, they put up huge numbers, and they made great players who didn’t cheat look smaller by comparison, taking away from their achievements and consideration for the Hall of Fame. That’s not right.”

Nov. 21, 2017 - Joe Morgan

Con

Lou Gorman, former General Manager of the Boston Red Sox, stated the following in his 2007 book High and Inside: My Life in the Front Offices of Baseball:

“It doesn’t matter whether the player’s production, either home runs or hits, was drug enhanced once, twice or ten times. It doesn’t matter; it’s still cheating and impugning the integrity of the game and the player’s accomplishments… Those great players currently enshrined in the Hall of Fame achieved that honor strictly on the merits of their god-given talents and not by utilizing artificial means to enhance their accomplishments.

The game has been tarnished by steroid charges, and the issue of enshrinement in baseball’s Hall of Fame of players who have used steroids, regardless of their career statistics, is a critical issue that may well impact the standards and integrity of the Hall of Fame itself.”

2007 - Lou Gorman

Con

Denny McLain, former All-Star Major League Baseball pitcher and two-time Cy Young Award winner, wrote the following in his Mar. 28, 2007 article titled “Steroids, the Polygraph Test, and the Hall of Fame,” posted on the Encyclopaedia Britannica Blog:

“The Hall was supposed to be for playing accomplishments only, but now we have the electorate judging character. And in that case there are a lot of players who should come out of the Hall. How about the bad apples like Ty Cobb? And there are likely racist owners and managers in the Hall as well–should they be?

That’s a larger issue. But here’s a way to deal with the steroid users: Have everyone take a polygraph test. If you fail, you’re out; and publish the results. Then we’ll see how many players want to get into the Hall.

Otherwise, if Barry Bonds gets in, then Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Pudge Rodriguez and Rafael Palmiero and anyone else who has credentials has to get in. And if these guys get in under the suspicion that they cheated the game and their ability, then is betting on games the way Pete Rose did really that bad in comparison? Pete bet on his Reds to win depending on who was pitching, but the steroid freaks benefited from the effects of their drugs every game.”

Mar. 28, 2007 - Denny McLain

Con

Chris Cochrane, sports columnist for the Chronicle Herald (Novia Scotia, Canada), wrote the following in a Feb. 11, 2009 article titled “Keep Them Out of Baseball’s Hall of Fame,” published in the Chronicle Herald:

“Baseball players accused of steroid use have created a lengthy list of colourful defences, ranging from naivety to outright denial, to combat the accusations…

Forget about what method they chose to defend their actions. Whether it was to stonewall, to be evasive or even to admit guilt in an attempt to gain sympathy, none of these tactics change the fact that they cheated.

So what’s a fair punishment, aside from the usual suspensions for active cases?

The one weapon the baseball world retains to punish the star offenders is to bar them from its Hall of Fame.

For selfishness and arrogance on this large a scale, that’s a justifiable punishment.”

Feb. 11, 2009 - Chris Cochrane

Con

John A. Tures, PhD, professor of political science at LaGrange College, stated in his Jan. 25, 2019 article titled “It’s a ‘Relief’ Baseball’s HOF Is Still Steroid Free,” available at alexcityoutlook.com:

“[O]ne thing I couldn’t stand seeing were those sportswriters crowing about how Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens belong in the hall of fame. The moment the league allows this the league ceases to be anything worth watching. Here’s why:

No. 1, steroid abuse kills. There are players who have shot up who have died. The election of steroid abusers will unleash a wave of young athletes who will risk it for fame and glory. Critics will deny this. They also have nothing to say at these kids’ funerals.No. 2, steroid abuse destroys your health. See No. 1.

No. 3, steroid abuse is illegal. Currently, players will be suspended a lot of games for steroid abuse. What’s one of them to say when they see a player get rewarded with a spot in Cooperstown, New York for doing the same thing?”

Jan. 25, 2019

Con

Paul Semendinger, EdD, Editor-in-Chief of Start Spreading the News and elementary school principal, wrote in his Nov. 14, 2019 article titled “Two of Baseball’s Biggest Problem(s),” available at startspreadingthenews.blog:

“Baseball must have integrity.

Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, two of baseball’s greatest players, are not in the Hall-of-Fame because of the belief (or the evidence) that they used steroids to prolong or enhance their careers. There is a sense (real or otherwise) that their career totals and accomplishments are tainted because they used artificial means to achieve those ends. Bonds and Clemens are not alone in this; they are just the biggest two names of players denied entry into the Hall-of-Fame because of the belief that they compromised the game’s integrity by cheating.

Cheaters never win, baseball (as an industry) says. Bonds might be the all-time homerun king, but he isn’t in the Hall-of-Fame because he cheated. Clemens might be the greatest pitcher of his generation, but he’s not in the Hall-of-Fame because he cheated.”

Nov. 14, 2019