Written by Andrew Cicco.
Every late fall leading up to the winter season, the members of the Baseball Writers Association of America get together and vote on the players they think are deserving enough to get into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Let me give you a brief history before we begin. Back in 1936, a philanthropist out of Cooperstown, New York, by the name of Stephen C. Clark set out to use his influence to find a way to properly preserve the national pastime; he also wanted to stimulate Cooperstown’s economy. Two birds, am I right?
Anyway, Clark teamed up with Ford C. Frick, legendary broadcaster and former president of the National League. Together, they established the location and preserved their idea into brick and mortar. However, it was so much more than just that. Together, they provided a place that properly displays the greatness of the game of baseball. They gave the game a place to be celebrated and to be remembered fondly for years to come. We’ve seen countless names enter the Hall since the idea came into fruition, most notably the inaugural class of Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson, Honus Wagner, Walter Johnson and, perhaps the most remembered name in all of baseball, Babe Ruth.
Every year since the inaugural class was decided, the “experts” of the baseball world collectively vote on who they feel is deserving of the honor. In order for a player to reach the Hall of Fame, they need to receive at least 75% of the vote; only one player has ever gotten 100% of the vote, and that was Yankees legend Mariano Rivera just two years ago. A player may be on the ballot no earlier than 5 years after they retire, and remain on the ballot for 10 years. If a player receives 5% of the vote or lower, they’re removed from the ballot. If a player gets below 75% of the vote, they remain on the ballot for next year. If a player stays on the ballot and doesn’t get voted in after 10 years, they are removed and only have a chance to get back into the Hall if a Major League committee votes them in, like the veteran’s committee. Every year since the first class, it’s been done the same way. This year, not a single player was voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
It seems the complication behind the likes of Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling have created a rift among the selected few who have earned the right to vote. Curt Schilling ended up sullying his name with his outspoken political views and candor on social media, and ended up removing himself from the ballot altogether after this year. Bonds and Clemens were essentially the faces of the steroid era, as the most notable players to be revealed as users. Both Bonds and Clemens broke storied baseball records while on performance enhancing drug regimens. The debate is obvious: Because of their admitted and uncovered use of steroids, do they deserve enshrinement into the Hall of Fame? It appears the debate was just too strong this year, especially with the lack of a first-ballot standout this year. Steroids continue to take away from baseball. This time, we’re seeing it off the field in the most holy of places for baseball fans. Now, for the second time since they were placed on the ballot in 2013, not a single person is headed to Cooperstown.
Tradition is one of the most important things we have, especially in a world where no one knows what’s going to happen next. Something as simple as a testosterone booster can cause an extreme shift in dynamic. Not only did they change the way the game was played, but it fueled the debate on what is considered “elite” and what isn’t. If you ask me, anyone who uses anything to get ahead, instead of doing it honestly, should not be celebrated or remembered like their peers who went by it all honestly. But, that’s a different topic for a different day.
The next Hall of Fame class will be announced some time next January. Log on to baseballrefrence.com to view the ballot for 2022.