Early Wednesday afternoon, the results of the most-anticipated Hall of Fame ballot in recent memory were released. For months, media members and baseball fans debated the names that would appear on the ballot for the first time. It became abundantly clear at the end of last week through the exit polls that this would be a small Hall of Fame class. There was no consensus that any of those big names would receive enough votes – not Clemens, Bonds, Sosa, Schilling – in a process culminating with a speech on a sweltering July day in upstate New York. The exit polls got it right. Not a single player received enough votes to earn induction to the hallowed hall in Cooperstown.
For this ballot, it didn’t matter that you weren’t connected to PEDs. Here are the top 10 finishers and a few huge names of note.
- Craig Biggio – 68.2%
- Jack Morris – 67.7%
- Jeff Bagwell – 59.6%
- Mike Piazza – 57.8%
- Tim Raines – 52.2%
- Lee Smith – 47.8%
- Curt Schilling – 38.8%
- Roger Clemens – 37.6%
- Barry Bonds – 36.2%
- Edgar Martinez – 35.9%
- Mark McGwire – 16.9%
- Sammy Sosa – 12.5%
Now, you can argue that Biggio and his 3,000 career hits lost a few votes because of the unwritten “first-ballot” that some voters hold. Jack Morris finished 42 votes shy of induction and will appear on the ballot for the final time in 2014.
The disparity in voting totals for Piazza and Bagwell versus Clemens and Bonds is something to note. The benchmark has been set for future votes. I’ll be curious to see how the numbers are tweaked each year as new players from that long, stained era come up for a vote. Next year, voters will add Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas and Mark Mussina to the decision-making process.
I feel bad for the people of Cooperstown and the players who had been inducted long ago. It’s a tourist town and ex-players make much of their income from the innumerable autograph sessions that typically accompany induction week. Let me be among those to romanticize the experience of Cooperstown during that week, where you can chat up the baseball legends of the past in a relaxed atmosphere. Those legends will still be in attendance for the ceremonies and speeches, but those autograph lines won’t be as long and the number of tourists will dwindle markedly.
One of the most outspoken members of the Hall of Fame joined The Loose Cannons, Pat O’Brien and Steve Hartman, on FOX Sports Radio to discuss the results of the ballot. Rich “Goose” Gossage was part of the 2008 Hall of Fame class, recognized for his 310 career saves and dominance as a member of the Yankees.
At one point, Gossage wondered why Bonds and Clemens received so many votes? Check out the full audio of Gossage’s passionate reaction to the vote here.