Why ‘no’ vote turns baseball’s Hall of Fame into ‘Hall of Shame’
The Baseball Writers Association annually votes on candidates to be chosen for entry into the baseball Hall of Fame. While the vote often rewards outstanding performance, it sometimes rewards a baseball writer’s favorites and penalizes those individual players who did not kiss up to those same writers.
As such, racism and anti-union sentiment are part of the process of the vote for the HOF simply because the overwhelming majority of BBWA writers were and are white reporters who are employed by the huge capitalist corporate media.
Major League Baseball Player’s Association Executive Director Michael Weiner issued the following statement Jan. 9: “Today’s news that those members of the BBWA afforded the privilege of casting ballots failed to elect even a single player to the Hall of Fame is unfortunate, if not sad. Those empowered to help the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum document the history of the game failed to recognize the contributions of several Hall of Fame-worthy players. To ignore the historic accomplishments of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, for example, is hard to justify. Moreover, to penalize players exonerated in legal proceedings — and others never even implicated — is simply unfair. The Hall of Fame is supposed to be for the best players who have ever played the game. Several such players were denied access to the Hall today. Hopefully this will be rectified by future voting.” (tinyurl.com/as3abot)
Media witch-hunt aids profit-driven owners
One thing must be made clear: the media witch-hunt against star baseball players, such as Bonds and Clemens, can only be understood in terms of the owners trying to reign in the power of the MLBPA. Financially, the owners made huge profits from these player performances. Any stain on that performance is not directly a source of profit to the owners. It hurts their profits. So why do it? The owners only embarked on this course after numerous defeats suffered from confrontations with the MLBPA.
The owners embarked on this course, with the aid of Joe McCarthy-style congressional hearings. Those hearings, headed by Senator John McCain, dragged star players like Mark McGwire in front of a nationwide media frenzy on supposed performance enhancing drugs (PEDs), as a way to put the players and their union in as unfavorable light as possible.
The big-business media, using racism as their ultimate weapon, then embarked on an almost decade-long attack on Black baseball player Barry Bonds, the greatest baseball player in the modern era. This attack on Barry Bonds culminated in him first being “blacklisted” from Major League Baseball and then indicted in federal court. While no such witch-hunt was directed at Roger Clemens during his career, where he was the greatest pitcher in the history of the game, Clemens also became the subject of the witch-hunt after his retirement. Both Bonds and Clemens had to endure being indicted and tried. Neither player was ever convicted of using PEDs at those trials.
Readers should be aware that there is no scientific definition of PEDs. While there are drugs that can improve performance, we should be very wary of any definition that is more political than scientific. Whether specific PEDs are “cheating” should not be allowed to be the leverage for capitalist team owners and the capitalist media to determine. All sports fans are justifiably concerned about cheating. The owners have used that justified concern to their own advantage in their dealings with the players and the MLBPA during contract negotiations. As such, team owners have been able to get the MLBPA, for the first time, to agree to less advantageous contracts with the owners after the initiation of this witch-hunt.
The BBWA vote for the HOF led to not a single candidate being elected. A “morals clause,” based on unproven use of PEDs, was used by the members of the BBWA to keep Bonds and Clemens out of the HOF. The failure to elect a single player to the HOF has only happened seven previous times.
In this case, however, the list of candidates was the most prestigious in decades! In the history of the game, only Babe Ruth could be considered a better hitter than Barry Bonds. Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire were two of the greatest sluggers in baseball history. Mike Piazza was the best hitting catcher in MLB history. Also on the ballot were Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Rafael Palmeiro and Edgar Martinez, all of whom deserved to be voted into the HOF.
How can the BBWA justify keeping Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens out of the HOF, while the plaque for racist Ty Cobb is so prominently exhibited by the HOF? What a shameful exhibition!
No one should visit the Baseball Hall of Fame until Barry Bonds is elected and his plaque shown as prominently as it rightfully should. No one should visit the Baseball Hall of Shame until Dick Allen is elected. In my opinion, the greatest racist shame in the history of HOF voting was the treatment of Dick Allen. Allen was one of the greatest hitters in the history of the game, but he first arrived in the Major Leagues in 1963, at a critical moment in the history of the civil rights struggle of the 1960s.
He refused to bow his head in subservience and was treated by baseball writers with utmost contempt. Their hatred of Dick Allen, to this day, is reflected in the door to the HOF being closed to him. That is an injustice that requires rectification! Until that is done, the HOF will remain, in my mind, the “Hall of Shame!”
Gimble was adviser on player acquisitions from 1991-97 for the Montreal Expos and the Boston Red Sox. He published the annual “Mike Gimbel’s Baseball Player & Team Ratings” book from 1990-94.