This article appeared in the January 27, 2021 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 01/27 edition

Character matters: No one elected to Baseball Hall of Fame in 2021

Brynn Anderson/AP
Artwork stands at Truist Park, home of the Atlanta Braves, in remembrance of baseball legend Hank Aaron, who died on Jan. 22, 2021. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on the first vote in 1982. Persevering amid racist hate mail, he broke Babe Ruth's record of 714 career home runs.

For the first time since 2013, not a single player garnered enough votes Tuesday to get into the National Baseball Hall of Fame this year.

Many awesome athletes were on the 2021 ballot, including Curt Schilling, Roger Clemens, and Barry Bonds. But none got into Cooperstown. 

Perhaps, that’s a good thing.

When members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America cast their votes each year, they’re not just taking into account performance on the field. The Hall of Fame voting rules require that writers also consider “integrity, sportsmanship, character.”

In recent years, many writers have refused to bestow the honor on excellent players who have had their careers tainted by accusations of steroid use, domestic abuse, and in Mr. Schilling’s case, for apparently endorsing a call to lynch journalists, among other off-the-field transgressions.

Some writers loathe this character clause. They don’t feel qualified to make such judgments. Others say the clause has been ignored for decades. ESPN’s Jeff Passan, who stopped voting in 2017, described Cooperstown as a “hill of hypocrisy” where “racists, wife beaters, drunks, gamblers and purveyors of manifold moral turpitude otherwise are celebrated.”

Yes, Hall of Fame voting rule No. 5 was often ignored in the past. But since the steroids era, many of today’s sports writers are now wrestling with this morality requirement. It’s not fun. It’s not easy. And maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be.  

This article appeared in the January 27, 2021 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 01/27 edition
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.