Sunday, January 28, 2024

Should there be a character clause for the Hall of Fame?

 Congratulations to newest members to the Baseball Hall of Fame. 

Jim Leyland, voted in on 15 of 16 ballots of the Hall's contemporary baseball era committee.


I remember when I first saw that Pirate hat and I thought that's kind of cool...what was I thinking?! The Topps Heritage card gives Leyland a more dignified picture for a manager.

Adrian Beltre, who received 95.1% of the votes.


Todd Helton, who received 79.7% of the vote.


Joe Mauer, who received 76.1% of the vote.


All well deserved (even though Leyland caught me by surprise). 

I heard talk on different podcasts and youtube videos raising questions about the character clause in the voting for members of the Hall of Fame. There seems to be a growing consensus that the character clause should be removed for consideration to become members of the HoF. When the HoF began in 1936, there were no guidelines to be elected. The clause was added in 1945 when the Hall formally adopted rules for eligibility. 

Here's the clause that I found:

"Voting shall be based upon the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played."

I'm sorry, but I don't see a problem with that statement. 

To me, the players that are in the HoF are the players that were revered for playing the game. I don't know about you, but I don't revere those who cheat the game. 

Those who cheat the game...what exactly does that mean? That's a good question. 

Gaylord Perry was well-known for throwing the spitter, but there was never any positive proof that he did, is in the Hall of Fame.

So, does that mean "those who cheat the game" are the ones that got caught? I think that has more weight for me.

What about steroids? Until there was testing in place, all of the steroid use was he said/she said without proof. I am amazed at the number of people who put so much trust in Jose Canseco's book. Don't you think he was trying to sensationalize the book?

The Mitchell report mentions 80 plus players and there were 104 players who failed a secret steroids test. Some of those guys are in the HoF. I realize that was a different time. I don't think I would have a problem with those players who were named or accused of steroids before 2004 when MLB toughened their steroids policy get in. Those after? Yeah, I don't think so. 

What about the Astros with using technology to steal signs? Using technology to steal signs is in the rules. My initial reaction is no, but then again, they are the hated rivals of the World Series Champion Texas Rangers (had to get that in somehow!).

What about stuff that happens outside the ballpark? Phyiscal abuse? Drunk driving? Curt Schilling? Where do you draw the line? 

I think you have to take it on an individual basis. Me personally, I couldn't vote for guy who beats his wife or girlfriend. Now, I will say it can't just be accused, but actually caught, convicted, admits to, etc... People get accused of things all the time that aren't true.

I guess to wrap this up, I don't have a problem with the character clause for the Hall of Fame. Are there players being held out that I think should be in? Yes. Are there guys who are in that I think shouldn't be? Yes. Both of those answers don't tarnish the Hall of Fame as far as I'm concerned. 

Isaiah 40:31


  1. Definitely, a two sided coin. There will always be those who care about "the clause" and those who don't. What I hope for is to abolish the writers vote and give it to the fans that buy the tickets and let them vote for whoever they want to.

  2. Do you think that Curt Schilling should be in the HOF?
    I do agree that a guy who has committed some real crimes, like assault, can be left out of the Hall. However, it seems that voting has become a popularity contest.
    I am a bit sour that Jeff Kent didn't get in because the voters didn't like his attitude. I don't think they should vote based on if they like the guy rather than if he was Hall-worthy.

  3. The problem with the character clause is that those that vote (and everyone else who doesn't) aren't really the best people to judge anyone's character. Do we judge Schilling based off of his recent off-field behavior, or do we judge him as the former Roberto Clemente winner who has worked to raise money and awareness for ALS/Lou Gehrig's Disease? At what point does the bad outweigh the good?

    1. Great question. I think Schilling should be in based on his playoff performances. His regular season record is short of Hall standards and I think that hurt him. Then he went out and said he didn't want to be a part. Here's a quote from Schilling that I found...
      “I will not participate in the final year of voting. I am requesting to be removed from the 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. I don’t think I’m a hall of famer as I’ve often stated but if former players think I am then I’ll accept that with honor.”
      I agree with him on one thing, former players should have more of a voice on who is in the Hall of Fame over the writers.

  4. It's a very opinionated topic... which is what makes sports so much fun to talk about at family gatherings and on card blogs.

    Twenty years ago, I would have been 100% in support of the character clause. That's also when I thought athletes should be good role models for kids. These days... my opinion has changed. Athletes are entertainers. I encourage my students to find role models among the family members, coaches, teachers, and friends instead. That's not to say that an athlete can't be a positive role model... but ultimately that's not what they're getting paid to be.

    Greenies also made me switch my opinion. Growing up... I didn't really know about them and how they improved some the performance of some baseball players. But after the PED drama in the 2000's... I'd often hear how players in the 50's through the 80's used them to help increase energy and alertness.

    One more thing I don't like about the character clause is there are known racists and bad human beings already in Cooperstown. Why should they be the only ones who get a free pass? My current stance is the Baseball Hall of Fame should include the greatest baseball players of that era and not the greatest baseball players who are also good role models of that era.

    But honestly... I'm open to the idea of someone changing my opinion. It's happened before... I'm sure it'll happen again.

  5. I don't have an opinion one way or another on this (I'd need to think about it a lot more than I have before forming one), but I do think that Matt made a great point about writers getting to judge who is and isn't a good person. It's not like they're all saints themselves.


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