Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry, who admitted to doctoring baseballs during his career, believes Barry Bonds deserves to join him in Cooperstown, but that Pete Rose should never be admitted into the Hall of Fame.
“Pete did the worst thing possible, worse than steroids,’’ Perry said on a conference call Thursday morning, “he put money on games, win or lose. He’s paying the price.’’
Bonds, who’s gaining momentum on his fifth year of the ballot, has yet to receive more than 44% of the 75% needed by Baseball Writers Association of America voters. His candidacy has been marred by the BALCO scandal in which he was indicted for perjury and obstruction of justice on his grand jury testimony that he knowingly used performance-enhancing drugs, but the charges were later dismissed. Perry believes that he’ll make it before his 10 years of eligibility expire.
Bonds has been named on 65% of publicly revealed ballots tracked by Ryan Thibodeaux, a percentage that figures to decrease once the estimated remaining 57% of votes come in.
“I think he’ll get in eventually,’’ says Perry, who was inducted in 1991. “If you have a player like that, pretty soon, you put him in.’’
Hall of Famer John Smoltz, inducted into the Hall of Fame last year, believes that no one who used performance-enhancing drugs should ever be voted into the Hall of Fame. The difficulty, he says, is proving who cheated.
“I’m trying to figure out what is actual, and what isn’t,’’ said Smoltz, who joined Perry and former player Kevin Millar on a Diamond Resorts Innovational conference call. “To me, the one thing forgotten in this thing is the mission statement. Character is a big part of it. You have to not only have the numbers, but the character that matches it. …
“If you have first-hand knowledge that a player used, or has publicly acknowledged it, I think it’s an easy decision. When it is circumstance and evidence, and you don’t know, and just follow the rumor mill, that’s difficult for the writer to be judge and jury.’’
Yet, if you disregard Bonds’ connections to performance-enhancing drugs, and go on pure performance, Smoltz says, it’s a no-brainer that Bonds should be in the Hall of Fame.
“Barry Bonds is the greatest player I have ever played against,’’ Smoltz says. “Barry Bonds could do things like no other player. I have tremendous respect for Barry Bonds.’’
If Bonds, Roger Clemens or anyone else used steroids, Smoltz, they don’t belong in the Hall of Fame. If they were clean, he says, let them in.
“I have no knowledge. None.’’ Smoltz says. “I can just follow the speculation scale like everyone else.’’
While Perry believes Bonds’ and Clemens’ spike in vote totals this year is simply a matter of voters softening their stance on steroids, several writers have publicly stated they changed their vote after Bud Selig, commissioner during baseball’s steroid era, was elected last month into the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee.
Selig, offended by the logic, declined to publicly address the voters stance towards Bonds and Clemens in a telephone interview with USA TODAY Sports. Still, he’d like to remind everyone that he began negotiating in 2002 with the players association to implement steroid testing. MLB adopted its first steroid testing program in 2004, three years after being implemented in the minor leagues, which didn’t require union approval.
“Let me say this, I fought long and hard for the (drug-testing) program,’’ Selig said, “and we put in the toughest program in North American sports. It’s ridiculous to think anything else.’’
This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, USA Today. Follow Bob Nightengale on Twitter and Facebook.