1/5 Palmeiro, Smith denied entry into Hall
Former Cubs Lee Smith and Rafael Palmeiro were both denied entry into the Hall of Fame. The Baseball Writers Association of America elected Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven on Wednesday, and they will be inducted July 24 into Cooperstown.
A four-time All-Star, this was Palmeiro’s first year on the Hall ballot and he received 64 votes, or 11 percent, which means he will remain on the next ballot. He has 3,020 hits and 569 home runs, numbers which were considered automatic entry into Cooperstown. Palmeiro is one of four 3,000-500 men in Major League history, joining Hall of Famers Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Eddie Murray.
But Palmeiro tested positive for steroids, and even though he has insisted the results were an accident, that most likely hurt his status among voters. In March 2005, he testified at a congressional hearing that he never used steroids. In July that year, he got his 3,000th hit. Three weeks later, it was revealed that he had tested positive.
Palmeiro said the positive results were because of a tainted B-12 vitamin shot given to him by teammate Miguel Tejada when the two played for the Orioles. The first baseman ended the 2005 season with a 10-day suspension for violating MLB’s drug policy.
“I never played for the Hall of Fame,” Palmeiro said in an interview with SI.com at the end of December. “I only played to win and have fun. But, yes, now the Hall of Fame is important to me. Why wouldn’t I want to be there? It would mean more than anything to me. I hope they don’t hold me out for one mistake at the end of my career.”
This was Smith’s ninth year on the ballot, and he received 263 votes, or 45.3 percent. The big right-hander got 255 votes (47.3 percent) in 2010; 240 votes (44.5 percent) in 2009; 235 votes (43.3 percent) in 2008; 217 votes (39.8 percent) in 2007; 234 votes (45 percent) in 2006; 200 votes (38.8 percent) in 2005; 185 votes (36.6 percent) in 2004; and 210 votes (43.3 percent) in 2003.
When Smith retired, he was the all-time leader in saves (478) and games finished (802) in the Major Leagues. The lumbering right-hander now ranks third in both categories behind Trevor Hoffman and Mariano Rivera. Hoffman has 601 saves and finished 856 games; Rivera has 559 saves and finished 829 games. Hall of Fame voters have elected other relievers as Dennis Eckersley (2004), Bruce Sutter (2006) and Goose Gossage (2008) have been enshrined. But Smith’s vote totals seem to have stalled. He will be back on next year’s ballot.
Smith pitched for the Cubs from 1980-87, and led the National League in ’83 with 29 saves. He topped that in ’84 with 33 saves.
– Carrie Muskat