In their first time eligible to receive the sport’s top honor from the Baseball Writers Association of America, both men — whose careers ended with suspicions they used performance-enhancing drugs, despite their denials — received fewer than four out of 10 votes, well short of the 75 percent needed for induction.
For the first time since 1996, the baseball writers elected no one to the Hall. Among those rejected were Sammy Sosa, the slugger who sits eighth on the all-time home run list and who joined Clemens and Bonds on the ballot for the first time. Mark McGwire, who sits 10th on the all-time home run list, failed again, receiving his lowest percentage in seven years of eligibility.
McGwire has admitted steroid use. Sosa was widely suspected of it.
The vote was the latest emphatic, if expected, pronouncement that the vast majority of the 569 writers who cast ballots are not ready to elect even the best performers if there are fears they used drugs. (The Washington Post does not participate in the voting.)
“It means that the period in baseball from about the time I left until the present is a pretty dirty, if that’s the right word, period,” said Fay Vincent, who served as baseball’s commissioner from 1989 to 1992. “Everybody, including many who were probably clean, are subject to that judgment, and any judgment has got to be a cloudy one.”
The results extended the debate about how baseball, a sport that cherishes its history, should remember those players who defined and dominated an era from the 1990s through the mid-2000s in which baseball’s own investigation – undertaken just as the careers of Bonds and Clemens were ending — showed the use of performance-enhancing drugs was widespread.
“It’s a tough period for evaluation,” Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson said. “That’s what this chalks up to.”
News of the vote was embraced by some and brought swift rebuttals from others. Clemens, who has defiantly and publicly expressed his innocence, took to Twitter to express his reaction.
“After what has been written and said over the last few years I’m not overly surprised,” Clemens wrote in a link from his account. “Thanks to all the teams I’ve worked with and to fans and friends for all the fantastic letters, voice mails and texts of support over the last few years.
“To those who did take the time to look at the facts . . . we very much appreciate it.”