Great American Pastime: Drugs and Heroes – Roger Ingalls
Today was ballot day for baseball’s annual hall of fame voting process. For only the second time in the past forty years no one was inducted into Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame. There were many outstanding players eligible but the voting body – a select number of sports writers (Baseball Writers Association of America, BBWAA) – did not deem this year’s crop of athletes worthy. Some of the biggest names in the game were smacked down: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Mike Piazza and many others. They were shunned due to suspicion of using performance enhancing drugs (PED) such as steroids and human growth hormones (HGH).
The BBWAA’s new found morality is ridiculous. Performance enhancing drugs have always been a part of professional sports going all the way back to the Gladiator days in Rome. Baseball and drugs have a hundred year marriage.
Abridged PED History:
1) Late 1800s – Snuff and Coco leaves
2) Early 1900s – Caffeine, strychnine, heroin and cocaine
3) Mid 1900s – Horse pills (steroids) and amphetamines (greenies)
4) Later 1900s – Designer steroids, human growth hormones and cocaine again
I certainly don’t endorse drug use by athletes or anyone else but the Hall of Fame is a chronological museum of baseball history. Today’s players represent their current environment just as yesterday’s ballers represented theirs.
It’s the responsibility of the BBWAA to select the best players of the recent era for inclusion into the Hall of Fame against the backdrop of the norm for that period. It’s not their responsibility to rewrite or manipulate history.