If Chicago Cubs Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg had any say in the matter, steroid users would never be in the Hall of Fame.
One of the biggest ongoing conversations in Major League Baseball is whether or not players who used steroids should be admitted into the Hall of Fame. Surely on statistics alone it would seem that players like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens have the resumes that warrant Hall of Fame status, but if Hall of Famer Ryne Sanderberg was a voting member, none of them would be in Cooperstown.
While sitting down with FanSided’s Mark Carman, Sandberg discussed everything from why he chose baseball over football, his partnership with Jim Beam Black which allowed fans to play a round of golf with him, to where he stands on if steroid users should be in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. His stance is pretty clear.
“No steroid guys [should be] in the Hall of Fame,” Sandberg told FanSided. “It’s about stats, integrity and playing by the rules. There’s no cheating in Major League Baseball or the Hall of Fame.”
Sandberg, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005 gave a passionate speech at his induction ceremony where he touched on the integrity of baseball, and how hitting home runs shouldn’t be valued over how to play the rest of the game. Although he didn’t directly call out players or anyone individually, Sandberg was of course talking about the steroid era where guys were chasing home run records and putting up ridiculous numbers.
“That speech came right at the time of the steroid era, where it was all about the home run,” Sandberg said. “The home run that’s hit in the 8th inning to make it a 7-2 game where your team is losing, and you’re taking a curtain call because you hit a homerun. That’s what I had a problem with.”
The steroid era may have provided a jolt of excitement for the league and its fans, but it also created a cloud over the sport, one that the league is constantly trying to distance itself from. Yet every year when Hall of Fame voting results get released, players who had any involvement in either taking steroids, or were suspected of it, are gaining more favor from Hall of Fame voters.
This year Bonds and Clemens, arguably the greatest hitter and pitcher of their era received 56.4% and 57.3% of the votes respectively for the Hall of Fame. In their sixth year on the ballot both players have four years remaining of Hall of Fame eligibility before their names are dropped off the list altogether. Needing 75% of votes to be named a Hall of Famer, with four years remaining it’s possible the day will come that both Bonds and Clemens are enshrined in Cooperstown. Although it’s something Ryne Sandberg hopes doesn’t happen.
“Hopefully the younger writers who are now getting votes are not enamored by the home run and the 200 strikeouts a year during the steroid era,” Sandberg said. “Baseball [during that time] was all about the home run, it wasn’t about a defensive play or turning the double play. It wasn’t about winning baseball or what it takes to win a game today, or prior to the steroid era.”