After days of speculating, today we found out that no player was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame for 2013. This has easily been the most controversial vote by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BWAA) since they were a part of the election process. Today shows us that trauma of the steroid era has clearly not healed.
The first page in baseball’s history of the “steroid era” has been written. The owner of baseball’s most cherished records, Barry Bonds, was clearly rejected. Cy Young winner, Roger Clemens, might have skirted prison time in 2012, but today he did no better. Only Craig Biggio came close to election. He got 68.2% of the vote, falling 39 votes short.
With 569 members of the BWAA returning ballots, the Los Angeles Times reports that 427 votes would have been needed to meet the 75% standard for election. This is only the eighth time since 1936 that there has been no election class. The last was 1996. Former Detroit Tigers ace Jack Morris, in his second to last year on the ballot, was second with 67.7%. Jeff Bagwell got 59.6%, followed by Mike Piazza at 57.8% and Tim Raines at 52.2%.
This is the first time the Baseball Hall of Fame will host a ceremony with no living inductees since 1960. The July 28 ceremony will honor the three inductees of baseball’s pre-integration era. Each of these inductees had been dead for at least 74 years.
Barry Bonds holds the career and single-season home-run records. He is the only seven-time most valuable player and was only named on 36.2% of the ballots. Clemens is the only seven-time Cy Young Award winner and was named on 37.6%.
Players remain on the ballot for 15 years, provided they receive at least 5% of the vote. However, this has easily been the most baffling ballot in the Hall’s history. Links to alleged steroid use has turned a player the Times described as “a first-ballot lock into an also-ran.” Voters were divided between those who wanted to deny induction to any player with ties to performance-enhancing drugs, those who are taking a “wait and see” approach to what additional information might emerge about those players, and those who just want to vote for the most dominant players of their their era.
Mark McGwire got a paltry 16.9% of the votes. In his six previous appearances, he never received more than 23.7%. McGwire and Sammy Sosa were credited with reviving baseball in 1998, when the two players battled for the single-season home-run record. McGwire ended with 70. Sosa finished with 66. In 2001, Bonds hit 73 home runs.
Bonds leads the all-time home-run list at 762, with Sosa eighth at 609 and McGwire 10th at 583. The trio is the only men to hit more than 62 home runs in a season – Bonds did it once, McGwire twice and Sosa three times. Yet, these former historic impact players are now dim long shots for Baseball’s Valhalla.