Baseball writers discuss controversial Hall of Fame voting

Posted: January 11, 2013

The only living member who will be honored in July by the Baseball Hall of Fame is a writer - former Daily News scribe Paul Hagen. That is somehow appropriate, considering that the writers are at the forefront of a debate that extends beyond the walls of the Cooperstown, N.Y., museum.

"This is the most star-studded ballot in 75 years, and we didn't elect anybody on it,"'s Jayson Stark said. "It just shows you what a mess Hall of Fame voting has become."

For the first time since 1996, the Baseball Writers' Association of America did not elect anyone Wednesday. Players must receive 75 percent of the vote; former Houston second baseman Craig Biggio was closest with 68.2 percent.

At the heart of the debate is the so-called "character clause" issued with the Hall of Fame ballot that instructs voters to vote "based upon the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character."

Scott Miller of said Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens failed that test for their proven usage of steroids. Every player on the ballot was active before Major League Baseball instituted drug testing.

"This is not an outrage today," Miller said. "The process, I do believe, works."

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle is the BBWAA's president. She did not vote for either Bonds or Clemens.

"It stinks," she wrote. "Bonds is the greatest hitter of this age, and Clemens one of the best pitchers - one of my favorites as a teenager - but I just do not believe players who used steroids deserve their sport's highest honor."

Stark, a former Inquirer writer, voted for the maximum 10 players allowed. Bonds and Clemens were included.

"We need to have a serious national conversation about where the Hall of Fame goes from here," he said. "We need to decide if it's a history museum or holy place."


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