Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds, the greatest pitcher and hitter of baseball's "Steroid Era," were denied entry to the Hall of Fame today, as dozens of voters refused to look past their connection to performance-enhancing drugs.
For the first time since 1996, no players were inducted into Major League Baseball's Hall of Fame.
Craig Biggio was named on 68 percent of the ballots, more than any other player, but still short of the 75 percent required for enshrinement. A seven-time all-star who enjoyed a 20-year career with the Houston Astros, during which he compiled 3060 hits and 668 doubles, Biggio becomes only the second player, after Rafael Palmeiro, with more than 3000 hits not to be voted in on his first ballot.
With 569 ballots cast by 10-year members of the Baseball Writers Association of America, 427 ballots were required to make it in. Despite posting career numbers that far exceed even the most stringent Hall of Fame standards, Clemens and Bonds fell far short, with 37.6 and 36.2 percent of the vote, respectively.
In the weeks leading up to today's announcement, many baseball writers talked about how conflicted they were about this year's Hall of Fame ballot, the first to include some the the biggest names of the Steroid Era. Some have vowed never to vote for known steroid users, others have said they want to make players from this era wait a year or two, and some just don't care about drug use.
It's the first time since 1996 that the no players were elected, though six players on that year's ballot -- Phil Neikro, Jim Rice, Ron Santo, Bruce Sutter, Tony Perez and Don Sutton -- eventually made it in.
Both Clemens and Bonds were clearly being punished by a number of writers for carrying the taint of steroids. Both were named in the 2007 Mitchell Report, the result of former Senator George Mitchell's investigation into the use of performance enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball.
Clemens, who won 354 games, seven Cy Young Awards and two World Series titles, has been accused of PED use by former teammate Jose Canseco, as well as former trainer Brian McNamee, allegations the pitcher has denied to everyone who will listen, including Congress. Despite multiple perjury indictments, he has never been found guilty.
Bonds, the game's career and single-season home run king, has admitted to using two substances, "the cream" and "the clear," that were found to be steroids, but testified under oath that he thought they were flax seed oil and an arthritis treatment. Bonds was later convicted on charges of obstruction of justice, and sentenced to 30 days house arrest, two years probation and 250 hours of community service.
Other notable first-timers on this year's ballot who fell short of induction include:
Mike Piazza, a 12-time all-star who played the bulk of his career for the Mets and the Dodgers, and was the greatest-hitting catcher in the game's history. He appeared on 57.8 percent of ballots. Piazza has never tested positive for steroids or been formally accused, but has been dogged by rumors of PED use for years.
Sammy Sosa, who along with Mark McGwire electrified a nation with their 1998 pursuit of Roger Maris' single-season home record. Eighth all-time with 608 home runs, and the only man to hit more than 60 home runs in a season three times, Sosa's name appeared on a list published by The New York Times in 2009 of players who tested positive in 2003 for an unidentified PED. He received 12.5 percent of the vote.
Curt Schilling, a 20-game winner for championship teams in Arizona and Boston. The best starting pitcher in playoff history, with the best strikeout-to-walk ratio since 1900, Schilling likely lost votes thanks to his low win total, 216. He appeared on 38.8 percent of ballots.
Two long-time holdovers, Jack Morris and Dale Murphy, also came up short. Morris, winner of 254 games and three World Series titles, was on his 14th ballot, earning 67.7 percent. Murphy, a two-time MVP who enjoyed his finest years with the Atlanta Braves, was in his 15th and final year of eligibility.
The 2014 ballot includes Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas, Tom Glavine and Mike Mussina, all among the best of their age, none of them with any connection to steroid use. With voters only allowed to list 10 players on their ballot each year, the BBWAA could be looking at a backlog in the near future.