There will not be a Class of 2021 in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the museum’s president Tim Mead announced Tuesday.
The top three candidates–Curt Schilling, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens—are all controversial, and all fell short in a vote held late last year by eligible members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
Schilling, whose post-career antics and political views put him under the microscope, fell just 16 votes in arrears of the requisite 75% for election. The right-handed pitcher had 71.1% of the 401 ballots cast and needed 301 to gain election. Last year, he fell 20 votes shy at 70%. In a letter to the Hall of Fame published after the vote, he asked to be removed from consideration next year, his final year of eligibility on the writers’ ballot.
“I’ll defer to the veterans committee and men whose opinions actually matter and who are in a position to actually judge a player,” Schilling wrote.
Bonds and Clemens, who were suspected of using performance-enhancing drugs during otherwise stellar careers, remained at about the same levels they were last year. Bonds, the all-time leader with 762 career homers, including a record 73 in a single season, had 61.8%. Clemens, the right-hander who won 354 games and was third all-time with 4,672 strikeouts, had 61.6%.
No other candidate came close, with Scott Rolen up next at 52.9%. Of the 11 first-time candidates, only four made the cut to return on the next ballot: Mark Buehrle, Torii Hunter, Bobby Abreu and Tim Hudson. Any candidate needs 5% or more to be held over.
“It really reinforces how difficult it is,” Mead said after divulging the results on MLB Network. “We look forward to a new ballot next year and a continuation of this process for some of the gentlemen who continue on.”
Schilling, Bonds and Clemens have only one more year remaining of their 10-year period of eligibility on the BBWAA ballot. And it will only grow tougher in 2022 when two more controversial figures, Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz, join the ballot for the first time. A-Rod was suspended a season for PED use, and Big Papi not only falls under that shadow, but labored as a designated hitter for most of his career.
Schilling was vehement in demanding he not be considered by the writers. “I wanted to reiterate this final point,” he wrote. “I will not participate in the final year of voting. I am requesting to be removed from the ballot. Nothing, zero, none of the claims being made by any of the writers hold merit. I can say at this point I am mentally done. I know math and I know trends and I know I will not attain the 75% threshold for induction. “
The Hall doesn’t create the ballot. It’s put together by a separate committee of BBWAA members. After the eligibility for that ballot lapses, players can then be considered by the 16-member Today’s Game committee, which won’t meet again until late 2022 for the Class of 2023.
This was the first time since 2013 the writers hadn’t selected a single candidate, although the BBWAA has voted in 22 players since then. And considering that the votes of the Golden Days and Early Baseball veterans’ committees were postponed by the Hall last year because of the coronavirus, this was the first time since 1965 the red-brick edifice on Main Street in Cooperstown, New York, won’t have a new inductee.
Mead said there still will be an induction ceremony this year in Cooperstown for the Class of 2020, which included Derek Jeter, Larry Walker, Ted Simmons and Marvin Miller, tentatively scheduled in some shape or form on July 25. The pandemic caused the cancellation of last year’s event.
“Behind the scenes we’re working diligently on different plans and we’re going to wait to see what the circumstances are,” Mead said, “but we will have an induction ceremony this summer and we’re looking forward to it.”