Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan is urging voters to keep "known steroid users" out of Cooperstown.
A day after the Hall revealed its 33-man ballot for the 2018 class, the 74-year-old Morgan argued against the inclusion of players implicated during baseball's steroid era in a letter to voters with the Baseball Writers' Association of America. The letter from the vice chairman of the Hall's board of directors was sent Tuesday using a Hall email address.
"Steroid users don't belong here," Morgan wrote. "What they did shouldn't be accepted. Times shouldn't change for the worse."
Hall voters have been wrestling with the issue of performance-enhancing drugs for several years. Baseball held a survey drug test in 2003 and the sport began testing for banned steroids the following year with penalties. Accusations connected to some of the candidates for the Hall vary in strength from allegations with no evidence to positive tests that caused suspensions.
About 430 ballots are being sent to voters, who must have been members of the BBWAA for 10 consecutive years, and a player needs at least 75 percent for election. Ballots are due by Dec. 31 and results will be announced Jan. 24.
Writers who had not been covering the game for more than a decade were eliminated from the rolls in 2015, creating a younger electorate that has shown more willingness to vote for players tainted by accusations of steroid use. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens each received a majority of votes for the first time in 2017 in their fifth year on the ballot.
Morgan said he isn't speaking for every Hall of Famer, but many of them feel the same way that he does.
"Players who failed drug tests, admitted using steroids, or were identified as users in Major League Baseball's investigation into steroid abuse, known as the Mitchell Report, should not get in," Morgan wrote. "Those are the three criteria that many of the players and I think are right."
Jon Shestakofsky, a spokesman for the Hall of Fame, called Morgan's letter "a Hall of Famer initiative."
"Our role at the Hall of Fame was to support our players who feel strongly enough about this issue that they decided to speak out," Shestakofsky said in an email. "They took the lead and asked us to provide administrative support to help get their message out."
Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez were inducted into the Hall in July. They were joined by former Commissioner Bud Selig and retired Kansas City and Atlanta executive John Schuerholz, who were voted in by a veterans committee.
Some baseball writers said the election of Selig, who presided over the steroids era, influenced their view of whether tainted stars should gain entry to the Hall.
Morgan praised BBWAA voters and acknowledged they are facing a "tricky issue," but he also warned some Hall of Famers might not make the trip to Cooperstown if steroid users are elected.
"The cheating that tainted an era now risks tainting the Hall of Fame too," he wrote. "The Hall of Fame means too much to us to ever see that happen. If steroid users get in, it will divide and diminish the Hall, something we couldn't bear."
Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap
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