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
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:
“My opening statement for any discussion involving the Hall of Fame candidacy of both Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens is always the same.
And it goes something like this: 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.
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
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.”
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…
Anyone who watched baseball during the ‘steroid era’ knows just how great these players are, so the Hall of Fame ignoring their contributions to the game is wrong and flat-out ignoring history…
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?”
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
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
Alex Rodriguez, third baseman for the New York Yankees, stated the following in his Feb. 9, 2009 interview with Peter Gammons televised on ESPN’s Sports Center, during which he admitted using banned substances from 2001 to 2003:
“PETER GAMMONS: One of your goals all along has been to be in the Hall of Fame. Do you think a player who has tested positive or admitted to taking illegal substances is disqualified from Cooperstown?
ALEX RODRIGUEZ: I hope not. I hope not. I mean, I think every case is different. I think you have to look at the data. If you take a career of, you know, 25 years, and you take away three, or you take away 2 1/2 or you take away one, I think overall you have to make a decision.
I don’t have a Hall of Fame vote. It would be a dream to be in the Hall of Fame, and I hope one day I get in…
I think there’s a great sample there for someone who has a Hall of Fame vote to say, OK, I have 20 years of clean baseball, and then make up their mind.”Feb. 9, 2009 - Alex Rodriguez
Bill Simmons, columnist for ESPN, wrote the following in his Jan. 15, 2007 article titled “A Hall of Justice,” published in ESPN The Magazine:
“Let’s stop pretending that the Baseball Hall of Fame is a real-life fantasy world — a place where we celebrate only the people and events we can all unanimously agree deserve to be celebrated — and transform it into an institution that reflects both the good and bad of the sport. Wait — wasn’t that Cooperstown’s mission all along? Shouldn’t it be a place where someone who knows nothing about baseball can learn about its rich history? Isn’t it a museum, after all?…
[H]ow can we even consider leaving out McGwire, Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa, the three most memorable hitters of the 1990s? We’re supposed to stick our heads in the historical sand and pretend these people were never born?…
Forget the fact that there were no testing procedures in place to catch him [Mark McGwire]. If he took steroids, he did break the rules. All that does is give him something in common with Hall of Famers like admitted ball doctorer Gaylord Perry and Ty Cobb, a virulent racist who deliberately tried to hurt other players and was accused of fixing at least one game. Are we really going to play the morality card for Big Mac when Cobb is in the Hall? Who’s OK with this?…
If we really want to do the right thing, let’s vote in Rose and McGwire as soon as possible, then inscribe on Rose’s plaque that he’s a dirtbag who bet on his own team, and inscribe on McGwire’s that he almost definitely used performance enhancers and wouldn’t answer questions about it under oath.”Jan. 15, 2007 - Bill Simmons
Mark Knudson, former Major League Baseball pitcher for the Milwaukee Brewers, stated the following in his Mar. 15, 2009 article titled “Forget the Asterisks and Just Adjust,” posted on the website of the Fort Collins Coloradoan:
“There is a way to settle all this record-book, stats stuff once and for all. Just put a plan in place to adjust rather than remove or put an asterisk on the stats of those proved to have used illegal substances. It’s not far fetched. The idea would be for MLB to make adjustments to baseball’s statistics (and record books) when cheating can be proven…
The best part of this plan is that after the numbers are adjusted to reflect the player’s non-using seasons, the stats of Bonds and Clemens would still be good enough to earn them their rightful place in the Hall of Fame. Face it, had neither player ever touched a steroid, and retired in a normal time frame, each would already be in the Hall. That’s how it should be.”Mar. 15, 2009 - Mark Knudson
Ross Douthat, Senior Editor of The Atlantic, wrote the following in his Feb. 9, 2009 article titled “A-Rod for the Hall?,” posted on The Atlantic website:
“[T]o date, the only otherwise-deserving players who’ve been denied entry to the Hall – Rose and Shoeless Joe Jackson – have been those who were guilty of infractions that got them banned them from the game for life.
Now perhaps steroid users should be banned for life, but the fact remains that A-Rod and others stand accused of violating a rule that carried no penalty save treatment at the time that they (and dozens if not hundreds of other players whose names haven’t been leaked) broke it, and that today only gets you banned outright if you’re a three-time offender. And I think it’s a good rule of thumb that if you’re allowed to continue playing major league baseball after committing a given infraction, you shouldn’t be disqualified – informally or formally – from its Hall of Fame.”Feb. 9, 2009 - Ross Douthat
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.
Life doesn’t always line up exactly the way we want it to. The logic may be somewhat perverse, but how 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
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.”
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
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?”
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
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
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
Peter Schmuck, baseball writer at the Baltimore Sun and voting member and former President of the BBWAA, wrote the following in a Mar. 9, 2006 article titled “Where Do We Go From Here?,” posted on the website Baseball Analysts:
“If Mark McGwire used illegal performance-enhancing drugs to put on the dynamic home run display in 1998 and climb into the upper reaches of baseball’s all-time home run list, then I don’t think he should be rewarded with a plaque in that hallowed hall.
If Barry Bonds or Sammy Sosa knowingly cheated to achieve the strength and batspeed that put them among the elite power hitters in the history of the game, Hall of Fame voters should think more than twice before checking the box beside either of their names on the ballot…
It’s hard not to conclude that McGwire, Bonds and Sosa were chemically enhanced when each made his assault on the all-time single-season home run record.”Mar. 9, 2006 - Peter Schmuck
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
Bob Feller, former Major League Baseball pitcher for the Cleveland Indians and member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, stated the following in a Feb. 7, 2007 interview with the Evansville Courier & Press:
“Anybody who takes steroids is stupid. Those guys are gonna die in their early 50s, if not before. They’re lousing up their bodies and their brains and their reproductive organs and everything else…
I hope those guys never make the Hall of Fame. But then, anybody with any brains is not gonna vote for anybody who’s on steroids.”Feb. 7, 2007 - Bob Feller
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