The Baseball Hall of Fame is facing a dilemma, as Barry Bonds has been repeatedly denied entry into the hall. The initial decision to deny him was not made lightly, but in order to maintain integrity and avoid tarnishing its illustrious past with potentially tainted figures.
Barry Bonds is a baseball player who has been in the spotlight for many years. He was one of the most dominant players to have ever played, but he has not yet been inducted into the Hall of Fame. If Barry Bonds isn’t inducted by the end of today, it would be a failure on the part of the Hall of Fame.
7 a.m. ET
ESPN’s Jeff Passan
- MLB insider on ESPN
- Author of “The Arm: Inside the Billion-Dollar Mystery of Sports’ Most Valuable Commodity,” “The Arm: Inside the Billion-Dollar Mystery of Sports’ Most Valuable Commodity”
A sign sits at the entrance to the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s plaque exhibit to assist museum visitors understand what they’re about to see. The first paragraph discusses how athletes are inducted into the Hall of Fame for “their contributions to the game.” Other portions of the museum “address the whole of their careers,” according to the following paragraph. “The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s aim is to Preserve History, which is what we attempt to accomplish throughout the Museum,” says the closing paragraph.
If that is the Hall’s aim, today has shown to be a complete disaster. In his last year on the writers’ vote, Barry Bonds, probably the greatest hitter in baseball history and unquestionably deserving of inclusion, will almost definitely fall short of the 75 percent mark for induction. At least one-third of baseball writers who arbitrate such things have deemed Bonds’ usage of performance-enhancing drugs to be disqualified for the previous nine years, and the announcement of Tuesday’s vote is unlikely to change that. Bonds’ refusal isn’t the only one, but it exemplifies how, decades later, baseball is still bungling the PED problem, prioritizing a sloppy, ahistorical moral referendum above the preservation of history.
It’s tough to say what frustrates you the most. Perhaps it’s because there are already PED-abusing players in the Hall. Or that Bud Selig, the commissioner who presided over the whole steroid period, be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Or the fact that decades of athletes before Bonds, including a slew of Hall of Famers, used amphetamines as part of their pregame regimen. Or that among those honored with bronze statues are a number of bigots, domestic abusers, and even a player who resigned from the Hall’s board of directors last year after a woman made genuine sexual assault charges.
Perhaps the man who has hit the most home runs in baseball history should be honored at the museum dedicated to the game’s history.
The anti-Bonds campaign has lasted decades, including several generations’ failures of justice and reasoning.
It all begins with Major League Baseball with Selig, his administration, and the game’s stewards turning a blind eye to PEDs. The hypocrisy of riding the steroid wave to larger stadiums, better TV agreements, and exponential financial development while vilifying the individuals who fuelled it followed. Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and the rest of the players brought before Congress made for fine scapegoats, but the league’s treatment of Bonds has gone well beyond that. Selig was enraged that Bonds was surpassing Henry Aaron’s home run record, thereby putting an asterisk next to Bonds’ ultimate total of 762 and single-season record of 73. Bonds was not given a contract after the 2007 season, despite the fact that he was still one of the finest hitters on the globe at the age of 43. Even though an arbitrator concluded there wasn’t collusion, it was evident that Bonds was not wanted in baseball.
E60 examines the life and career of Barry Bonds as the former Pittsburgh Pirate and San Francisco Giant nears the end of his eligibility to be voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Stream on ESPN+
The message made its way to Cooperstown, where McGwire’s nomination in the same year pushed the Hall of Fame to face the topic that would dominate the following 15 years: Will voters reward PED users? There was some disagreement among the authors who make such decisions. What was the Hall’s goal? Though the organization never advocates for or against athletes, it may have provided some advise to those who had taken performance-enhancing drugs. Did the so-called “character clause,” which instructs Hall voters to consider a player’s “character” as one of the six characteristics when determining his or her deservingness, apply to PED use? Should authors take into consideration the fact that these athletes lived in a world where cheating was rampant?
It was a time when the Hall could have embraced and taken the proper position, recognizing that, as awful as this history is, failing to convey the whole narrative would be tantamount to whitewashing this game-changing event. Instead, the Hall abandoned its leadership responsibilities and punted. “We’re portraying the narrative of the steroid period the same way we tell the story of any other era in baseball, and we’re telling it in its straightforward reality,” said Jane Forbes Clark, the Hall’s longstanding chairperson, in 2017. “And the museum will deal with it in that manner.”
The fact is that Barry Bonds is the drug era’s Cinderella tale. He’s a player whose physical prowess has no bounds, and whose quest for something greater than brilliance led him to a place he never needed to go. His avarice matched the league’s: a never-ending quest for bigger, better, and more. This is the kind of history that wants to be recounted, and there’s no better location to do it than in the Hall of Fame’s plaque chamber.
If you’re a museum, there should be no avoiding it or denying it. Yet the closest thing writers have ever received from the Hall on how to deal with PED users came in a November 2017 email prepared by Joe Morgan and sent to voters by the Hall. The subject line stated, “The Hall of Fame Is Special,” and Morgan proceeded to spew almost 1,000 words of anti-PED misinformation. “Steroid users don’t belong here,” Morgan wrote, despite the fact that he already knew they were there.
“I believe the writers are doing a pretty excellent job,” Clark had stated six years ago, when Bonds was polling at 36.2 percent. By the time Morgan sent his email, that figure had risen to 53.8 percent, and the possibility of him and Roger Clemens joining the Hall of Fame was beginning to loom.
On the Baseball Writers’ Association of America’s watch, that won’t happen. Even when Bonds’ popularity grew to 61.8 percent in 2021, about two-fifths of the writers who voted saw him not as the most scary batter they’d ever seen, but as the league and Hall of Fame depicted him: a giant, anthropomorphized needle loaded with nasty yuck-yuck goo.
We should be able to admit that Bonds is a cheater, lament his conduct, and convincingly argue that he belongs in Cooperstown nevertheless. Even those who believe that by excluding Bonds from the Hall of Fame, they are protecting it, must acknowledge that history, the museum’s mission, can be complicated, disappointing, and sad.
Making a mess of history is a risky game, particularly when it comes from a group tasked with creating it. If the BBWAA fails to elect Bonds today, the onus will be passed on to… the Hall. It will assemble the Today’s Game period committee in December, which will vote on anybody who played between 1988 and 2017 but was ignored by the writers. This panel of 16 electors, which included Hall of Famers, executives, and media people, voted for Selig to be admitted in 2017 and then Harold Baines two years later, despite the fact that he did not have enough friends on the committee to be honored.
Bonds should be on the ballot, but based on Morgan’s letter, his campaign is certain to fail. It’s challenging enough to get 12 of 16 votes from period committees without being a celebrity. His name will stay on the ballot indefinitely, and his destiny will be decided by the Today’s Game committee.
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We may spend all of our time wishing things were simpler, more plain, black and white, and more like a hero’s journey. That isn’t always the case. Shoeless Joe Jackson and Pete Rose are still outcasts, and the Hall of Fame is about to expel three more in Bonds, Clemens, and Curt Schilling — the former two for using performance-enhancing drugs, the latter for saying awful things.
Bonds, unlike Jackson and Rose, is not prohibited. Those who find the whole process repugnant might continue to campaign for Bonds, arguing that it isn’t in the best interests of the museum, which exists to chronicle baseball history, to effectively disregard someone so vital to its purpose. Clark was correct all along: the plain truth is obvious.
Barry Bonds should be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. There are so many easy alternatives that would fulfill the Hall’s declared objective and acknowledge that it is possible to honor Bonds as a player while lamenting his decisions. All that is required are the appropriate wording on the plaque. And, because the Hall isn’t doing it this year, it seemed like a good moment to try.
BONDS OF BARRY LAMAR
1986-2007: Pittsburgh N.L., San Francisco N.L.
With 762 home runs, he earned seven MVP awards and walked more people than any other player in baseball history. Set the single-season home run record with 73 and revolutionized hitting for a generation with his ferocious left-handed swing. The use of performance-enhancing substances clouded successes and typified the steroid era in baseball. Hero and villain at the same time, he possessed an uncommon power-speed combination, aided by his keen eye, that helped him lead the National League in on-base percentage 10 times.
That’s how you Preserve History, and that’s Barry Bonds.
Barry Bonds is a baseball player who has been in the news recently. He was one of the most prolific home run hitters of all time, but he will not be inducted into the Hall of Fame until 2021. If he isn’t inducted by then, it will be considered a failure for the Hall of Fame to have taken so long to induct him. Reference: 2021 baseball hall of fame.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why did Barry Bonds not make Hall of Fame?
A: Because Barry Bonds is not a baseball player, hes an outfielder.
Did Barry Bonds get into the Hall of Fame?
A: No, Bonds was not in the Hall of Fame.
How many votes did Barry Bonds get for the Hall of Fame?
A: Barry Bonds has received 714 votes for the Hall of Fame.
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