The controversy surrounding this year’s Baseball Hall of Fame class centered around the use of steroids in the MLB. The Baseball Writers Association of America failed to select anyone to get into the hall of fame for only the second time in 42 years. The exclusion of players related to steroids has several current Hall of Famers happy.
Al Kaline, one of the greatest Detroit Tigers of all time, was especially happy. Kaline had this to say, “I’m kind of glad that nobody got in this year. I feel honored to be in the Hall of Fame. And I would’ve felt a little uneasy sitting up there on the stage, listening to some of these new guys talk about how great they were.”
Kaline’s point is valid and is similar to other hall of famers. Goose Gossage and Dennis Eckersley were two others that voiced their pleasure in the low votes received by several first time ballot players. Barry Bonds received votes on 36.2% of ballots, Roger Clemens received votes on 37.6% of ballots and Sammy Sosa was only voted on by 12.5% of writers. All three of these players have been heavily linked to steroid use and it is believed that the usage of illegal substances increased their statistics.
In his playing career, Kaline had 3007 hits and 399 home runs. He posted a career .297 batting average and won the AL batting title in 1955 with a .340 average. Kaline was never linked to steroid use or illegal activities. Kaline deserves a spot in the hall of fame and has every right to voice his opinion. With the way the vote went this year, it would appear that none of the three players will get voted in.
Kaline didn’t stop with his talk about the Hall of Fame, but also talked about records that have been broken. Many of the players who have been linked to steroid use have passed MLB great and that has struck a nerve with “Mr. Tiger”. “What really gets me is seeing how some of these players associated with drugs have jumped many of the greats in our game,” Kaline said.
Kaline is likely referring to the fact that Bonds and Mark McGwire both broke the record for home runs in a season. Bonds also passed Willie Mays for most home runs in a career. This is the part that gets me too as I grew up in the steroid era. I never got to see Mays, Hank Aaron or Mickey Mantle compete in games. I am sure that Kaline is not the only hall of famer upset about this and I would love to see players like Mays more upset about their records being broken. Players who cheat in the game shouldn’t be allowed to play and likewise don’t deserve a spot in the hall of fame.
In 1980, Kaline was one of two players elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame, along with Duke Snider. Kaline received 88.3% (340 of 385 ballots) of the vote to be elected on the first ballot.