Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens last played Major League Baseball in 2007 and are the best hitter and pitcher of their generation, but on Tuesday they came up short yet again among National Baseball Hall of Fame voters.
Needing 75% of votes cast to be inducted this summer alongside Derek Jeter and Larry Walker, Bonds got 60.7 percent and Clemens 61.0, with two more years left for both to reach the threshold before coming off the writers’ ballot.
The players, both of whose careers have been tainted by association with performance enhancing drugs, jumped in last year’s vote by less than 3 percentage points to 59.1% for Bonds and 59.5 for Clemens in voting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
Their percentage has been rising steadily over the years from the mid-30s, but not quite far enough — yet.
The voters who remain in the “no” camp tend to skew older than those supporting Bonds and Clemens — and also are more likely not to publicize their ballots — which has helped the players gain ground as the voting population has gotten younger and more open to suspected PED users. But time is running out.
Of the six voters in the Newsday sports department, five voted for Bonds and Clemens.
Bonds is a seven-time National League MVP and holds the career record for home runs with 762. Clemens won seven Cy Young Awards, one with the 2001 Yankees.
The twosome first appeared on the ballot in 2013 and have until 2022 to reach 75%, after which their only hope will be the Era Committee, formerly the Veterans Committee. Their first shot for that path to the Hall would come in 2024.
Clemens’ public stance on the Hall of Fame repeatedly has been to insist he pays little attention to the process.
Last March, he told Newsday, “I have no control over it. People ask me about it, but it’s not going to change me as an individual either way. It’s great if it happens. If it doesn’t, so be it. But I didn’t play to make the Hall as a priority for me.
“For me it’s a selfish thing. There would be so many guys I have to thank, like I thank my teammates all the time . . . Then you think about compliments from a Don Drysdale or a Yogi Berra. I played with Yogi a couple of times in the Bob Hope [golf] tournament, and Yogi said, ‘You could play in my era, kid.’ That means the world to me.”
In 24 seasons Clemens went 354-184 with a 3.12 ERA and 4,672 strikeouts, which rank third in MLB history.
The voting percentages of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens since they first appeared on the ballot in 2013:
2013: Bonds 36.2, Clemens 37.6
2014: Bonds 34.7, Clemens 35.4
2015: Bonds 36.8, Clemens 37.5
2016: Bonds 44.3, Clemens 45.2
2017 Bonds 53.8, Clemens 54.1
2018 Bonds 56.4, Clemens 57.3
2019 Bonds 59.1, Clemens 59.5
2020 Bonds 60.7, Clemens 61