Bock’s Score: Let’s Hope Hal Voters Listen To Joe Morgan

Joe Morgan has been an honored member of the Baseball Hall of Fame since 1990. He serves as vice chairman of the Board of Directors. He knows his way around the shrine in Cooperstown and he is a little worried about its direction.

Morgan sent a letter to Hall of Fame voters a day or two after they received this year’s ballots urging that they not vote for PED and steroid abusers, their statistics notwithstanding. That’s admirable but he is a little late to this party.

A few years ago, the proprietors of the Hall of Fame decided that the PED abusers were not getting a fair shake from the voters. Older – and more experienced  – voters were not about to forgive and forget the abusers and chose not to vote for them. This bothered the bosses of Cooperstown and their solution was to strip the ballots from that community, leaving the election to a younger population of writers who were more accepting of a little bending of the rules.

Almost immediately, ballot bad boys like Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds made  progress toward the 75 percent approval required for election. They probably will make even more progress this time around.

This concerns Joe Morgan, who reached Cooperstown like so many honorees on pure athletic talent with no needles to help them along. And asking those players to share the glory with cheaters offended Morgan and offends many of the older writers who no longer have anything to say about it.

Morgan, though, has plenty to say.

In his letter to current voters, Morgan reminds them of section five of the rules for election. It is rather straightforward, using the words “integrity, sportsmanship and character’’ as criteria for election. Steroid and PED cheaters violated that rule. Morgan knows it and so do the voters. Choose to ignore the rule and the Hall is diminished.

He also said that he and a number of other Hall of Famers are considering staying away from the annual induction ceremonies to protest the Hall winking at those who bent baseball’s substance abuse rules.

So Morgan is imploring the electorate to pass on players who have, shall we say, shady reputations. There are plenty of worthwhile candidates for election who have no steroid clouds over their heads, perennial All-Stars like Chipper Jones, Jim Thome and Vladimir Guerrero for starters. Voters can full up the ballot without dipping into the dark side where Clemens, Bonds and a few others reside.

The Board of Directors, on which Morgan proudly serves, could have avoided this problem by leaving the electorate intact. Instead, they decided to play around with the system by eliminating writers who weren’t voting the way they wanted. Now Cooperstown must deal with the fallout and a Hall of Fame that has a cloud over it. They should have thought of this before.

Here’s hoping Morgan’s plea is heeded by the voters and the Hall’s effort to sneak in the cheaters by rigging the voters fails.


About the Author

Hal Bock

Hal Bock is a contributor with NY Sports Day. He has covered sports for 40 years at The Associated Press including 30 World Series, 30 Super Bowls and 11 Olympics. He is the author of 14 books including most recently The Last Chicago Cubs Dynasty and Banned Baseball's Blacklist of All-Stars and Also-Rans. He has written scores of magazine articles and served as Journalist In Residence at Long Island University's Brooklyn campus where he also served on the selection committee for the George Polk Awards.

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