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 Mar. 30, 2009):

"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. They must have been active as baseball writers and members of the Association for a period beginning at least ten (10) years prior to the date of election in which they are voting...

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."

View the full Rules for Election to the Hall of Fame (350 KB)

Mar. 30, 2009 - National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum 

David Lengel, sports journalist for the Guardian, wrote the following in his July 24, 2008 article titled "How Will the Hall of Fame Look on Baseball's Steroid Era?," published in the Guardian:

"A Hall of Fame 'is a type of museum established for any a field of endeavour to honour individuals of noteworthy achievement in that field. In some cases, these halls of fame consist of actual halls or museums, which enshrine the honourees with sculptures, plaques, and displays of memorabilia...' [Author is quoting from Wikipedia entry for "Hall of Fame."]

Of all the North American shrines to sport, baseball's is the toughest to get into. Over 125 years of major league competition has yielded just 268 players elite enough to be dubbed baseball immortals...

Lofty standards were set early on and have been fiercely protected by the electors, the Baseball Writers' Association of America, ever since...

As players from the steroid era become eligible for entry into the Hall of Fame, voters will face unprecedented pressure to protect the reputation of baseball's holiest ground. Some of the most important decisions in the Hall's esteemed history will have to be made - getting it right will be a grueling process, one with no easy answers."

July 24, 2008 - David Lengel 

USA Today and Gallup Poll published the following results to their Feb. 21-24, 2008 poll of 456 baseball fans asking "For each of the following former baseball players, please say whether you think he should or should not be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame?":


Should Not


Sammy Sosa 68% 26% 5%
Pete Rose 66% 31% 3%
Roger Clemens 62% 29% 9%
Rickey Henderson 61% 14% 26%
Mark McGwire 61% 32% 7%
Jim Rice 47% 19%


Barry Bonds 46% 50% 4%
Jose Canseco 40% 49% 11%

Feb. 21-24, 2008 - Gallup Poll 

PRO (yes)

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. But my biggest dreams are now to win a world championship and to be the last team standing on that field...

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?

If that's the case -- and I say it is -- then how can we leave out Pete Rose, the all-time hits leader and most memorable competitor of his era? And how 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:

"I think that I would vote for A-Rod to go the Hall of Fame - and for Bonds, and for Clemens, and maybe even for Sammy Sosa. I don't know exactly where steroid use should sit on the hierarchy of sins against the game: I think it's worse than throwing spitballs and not as bad as throwing games, but how much worse and how much less noxious I'm not entirely sure. But I do know that to 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 

CON (no)

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 

Ken Davidoff, Newsday national baseball columnist and voting member of the BBWAA, wrote the following in his Feb. 9, 2009 blog titled "Illegal PED users and the Hall of Fame," posted on his Newsday blog:

"I just don't think we should reward players who used illegal PEDs. I'm not saying they belong in jail... No, all we're talking about is a hit to their legacies and, therefore, their incomes...

I'm with you that players from previous eras probably would've done the same thing if these substances were available. But they weren't, and they didn't...

I can't think of a more beautiful indictment of this era than keeping all of the known guilty parties out of the Hall. And yes, that absolutely includes Bud Selig (whose HOF status is in the hands of the Veterans Commitee, rather than the BBWAA)...

No asterisks, please: I just want a lot of lonely induction days up in Cooperstown, and I want to have us explain to our descendants why the all-time home run leaders, the man who won more Cy Young Awards than anyone else and myraid other stars of the era aren't enshrined. That too many people for too long didn't do enough to stop what happened to our favorite game."

Dec. 31, 2008 - Ken Davidoff 

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