As Hall of Fame voters shut out Bonds and Clemens, local Major Leaguers split on issue
Hall of Fame voters pitched a shutout on Wednesday, failing to elect any candidates — including Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.
Bonds, baseball’s all-time home run hitter, and Clemens, one of the best pitchers in baseball history, were on the ballot for the first time. Both were once considered unanimous picks to the Hall of Fame, but that changed when a steroid scandal rocked baseball.
Former Hanahan High School pitcher Bryce Florie, who had an eight-year career in the majors during the Steroid Era, wasn’t surprised Bonds and Clemens were denied entry into Cooperstown.
“From what was going on, the voters sent them a message,” Florie said. “Their message was, ‘We don’t want cheaters and you were cheating. I played in that era. I got cheated on.”
But former major league pitchers from the Lowcountry are just as split on the issue as Hall of Fame voters. Britt Reames, a former Citadel standout who pitched part of six seasons in the big leagues, said he thinks players like Bonds and Clemens should, and one day will, make the Hall.
“You look at their careers over a long time frame,” said Reames, now an assistant coach at The Citadel. “It’s just my opinion, but I think guys like Barry Bonds, who hit 762 home runs, I don’t think steroids were responsible for his whole career. I think those guys should have an opportunity to be in the Hall of Fame at some point in time.”
Reames, who pitched for four teams from 2000 to 2006 and threw nine playoff innings for St. Louis in 2000, agreed with Florie that voters are sending a message, at least for now.
“I guess they felt like those guys should not get in their first time,” Reames said. “Maybe the voters need some time to think about it. But as time passes, I think those players will be put in.”
Reames said he never felt cheated by possibly facing hitters who were using performance-enhancing drugs. Not so for Florie, who pitched for four teams — San Diego, Milwaukee, Detroit and Boston — from 1994-2001. He finished his career with a 20–24 record, 4.47 earned run average and 395 strikeouts.
Florie’s career was cut short when the Yankees’ Ryan Thompson hit a line drive that struck Florie in the face, causing multiple broken bones and eye damage.
“I know I played against and with players who used steroids,” Florie said. “They were cheating and I was one of the players who was cheated against. Ultimately, these guys cheated and got away with it. This was the only way they could be held back. The voters held them in check.”
Florie said he first saw signs of steroid abuse in the minor leagues, but admitted he was naive.
“It was eye-opening, and maybe I just didn’t want to admit it, but some players just cheated,” Florie said. “My first year in the majors, I was just feeling my way around. But you’d see the guys, hear the talk. You’d see them in spring training and say, ‘Whoa, what did you do in the offseason?’ ”
Jeff Hartsell contributed to this report.