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July 26, 2009

Steroids and the Hall of Fame

As fans await the Hall of Fame speeches by Jim Rice and Rickey Henderson, the big topic all weekend in Cooperstown is the same as it has been since, unfortunately, Mark McGwire hit the ballot for the 2007 ceremony…steroids.

As part of the HOVG “Mustache May” celebration, I had the opportunity to talk with Hall of Famers Fergie Jenkins and Rollie Fingers and, wouldn’t you know it, the talk of steroids and the Hall of Fame did indeed come up.

Here is what they had to say.

HOVG: With the talk of steroids all over the sports channels and what not…what are your feelings going to be when a player who has admitted use, and it’s bound to happen, gets elected to join you in Cooperstown?

FERGIE: I don’t think (it’s bound to happen). Whoever has the vote, the Hall of Fame committee…the 500 plus reporters, they’re not going to vote for them. Guys like (Sammy) Sosa might not make it. Neither will (Barry) Bonds or (Mark) McGwire. A-Rod might not make it.

ROLLIE: I don’t think that’s ever going to happen. The sportswriters are pretty sticky about that. It’s pretty obvious with the numbers that Mark McGwire has gotten. If you’re known to use or if they figure you’ve been using, I don’t see that person getting voted in.

FERGIE: Once you get that particular black mark on your record, they are not going to give you the required amount of votes. You have to get 75 percent. McGwire only got 22 percent. He’s not even close.

HOVG: If someone that is suspected of steroids makes it in, like Roger Clemens, are you on that stage when they're inducted?

FERGIE: I don't know, I'd have to wait and see. I know Bob Feller voiced his opinion already. There's a few guys who voiced their opinion and said they wouldn't go. (Al) Kaline probably wouldn't go. Some of the guys who are staunch advocates of playing the game clean...they probably wouldn't show.

ROLLIE: Yes…simply because the sportswriters voted him in. If they felt as though he warranted going into the Hall of Fame, I am not going to shun him. I would stay on the stage. But like I said before, I don’t think that it’s going to happen. Roger Clemens says he doesn’t care, but I guarantee you…Roger Clemens cares.

HOVG: We can all blame Jose Canseco.

ROLLIE: (Laughs) I tell you what…everyone gets on Jose Canseco, but you don’t see too many people suing him. If he hadn’t have written the book, who knows where we’d be at today with steroids and the number of guys using them. It would probably be out of hand. At least right now, they’re taking care of the problem. The worst thing you can do is to let kids see that it is okay to use this stuff and get by. You have to show kids that this is not the right way to go and clean it up.

If you’ve been following the HOVG Hall of Fame previews this past week, you know that the Class of
2010 looks relatively clean. The same can’t be said of 2011 however, as Rafael Palmeiro hits the ballot for the first time. Of course, the biggest test of all will come in 2013. Feel free to check out 2012 and 2014 and leave your comments!

If you are unable to catch any of the Hall Induction Ceremonies, Steve Light, the Hall of Fame's manager of museum programs, is blogging

BallHype: hype it up!

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