MLB Hall of Fame Class of 2021, Or Lack Thereof


Bonds, Clemens, and Schilling

Julian Schenck, Sports Editor

The Professional Baseball Hall of Fame is the most selective group of its kind in all of professional sports. Out of the nearly 20,000 Major League Baseball players since 1871, only 132 are elected Hall of Famers, which equates to 0.6% of all players, according to MLB Network’s Tom Verducci. In comparison, an NFL player has to be in the top 1.5% of his field to make it to the Hall of Fame, and includes nearly 4% of NBA or NHL players. This simple calculation puts the MLB Hall of Fame at the best of the best, with a true and incredibly accurate account of who has actually been worthy of being in the top 0.6% of all MLB players.

The Hall of Fame committee consists of around 400 writers, who cast an annual ballot to decide who receives a bronze plaque in Cooperstown. Out of these writers, a player must be on 75% of ballots sent in by the writers. Now, a writer can do whatever they want with their ballot: there is no maximum or minimum of players that one can vote into the hall of fame. In 2021, the Hall of Fame committee announced that there would be zero new draftees into the Hall of Fame. This is a very rare occurrence, as it is just the third time in the last fifty years that nobody has made this elite club in a single year.

The first problem was that there were only a few viable players deserving of a spot in Cooperstown. Examples include Curt Schilling, a pitcher who has better career accolades than many Hall of Fame pitchers; Barry Bonds, the hard hitting slugger that has the most Home Runs in a career in MLB history; and Roger Clemens, another pitcher with even better all-time accomplishments than Curt Schilling. To the outside perspective, one would agree that all three of these men should be no-doubt Hall of Famers. You, of course, would be wrong.

The second problem was that these three players tarnished their careers, due to their actions and decisions off the field. For Bonds and Clemens, it was about steroids. These two both used steroids (performance enhancing drugs) during the dubbed “steroid era,” a time where players were regularly caught using illegal substances to improve their skills artificially. This fact did not sit well with many of the writers, as they believed that the integrity of the game was violated by these players. This obviously turned off enough writers over the years, as Bonds and Clemens have not been selected into the Hall of Fame after being on the ballot 8 and 9 times respectively.

Curt Schilling, however, has heard criticism from the Hall of Fame voters for a different reason. After retirement, Schilling promoted conspiracy theories and anti-transgender, anti-Muslim, and anti-Black ideas. This too inserted an asterisk into his Hall of Fame-caliber career, putting his character into question for many writers as they made their picks for the Hall of Fame class of 2021. Despite the steady rise in percentages received for Bonds, Clemens, and Schilling, none of them were able to break the 75% mark this year. It remains to be seen if that will change in the future, but at least for this year, nobody was deemed a good enough character to be worthy of the top 0.6% of players all time.