Three baseball stars who avoided convincing connection to steroid use during their playing days — Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, and Ivan Rodriguez — were elected to Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame Wednesday. The stars all received 75 percent of the ballots cast by the Baseball Writers Association of America.
Jeff Bagwell, a first baseman who spent his entire 15-year career with the Houston Astros, was named the National League’s Rookie of the Year in 1991 and Most Valuable Player in 1994. He was a four-time All-Star who batted .297, while hitting 449 home runs and 1,529 runs batted in. Bagwell is also the only first baseman in history to hit at least 400 homers and steal more than 200 bases. Speculation about steroid surrounded nearly all baseball stars of his era, but as the Houston Chronicle reports, Bagwell never failed a drug test. But those suspicions might have explained why he made the Hall on his seventh time on the ballot.
Tim Raines, a left fielder who played for six teams between 1979 and 2002, is known as the best leadoff hitter in baseball not named Rickey Henderson. He was a speedster who ranks fifth in career stolen bases with 808. Raines hit .294 over his career and won the 1986 National League batting title. A seven-time All-Star, he played 13 of his 23 seasons for the Montreal Expos. His confession to using cocaine in the mid-1980s may have diminished his appeal. Raines was elected to the Hall of Fame after being on the ballot ten times.
Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez was elected on his first appearance on the writers’ ballot. He is widely known as one of the best defensive catchers to play the game. He could hit with authority too, with a .296 career batting average, 311 home runs, and 1,332 runs batted in over 21 years in the majors. Rodriguez was the American League’s Most Valuable Player in 1999 and is perhaps best known for his years with the Texas Rangers and Detroit Tigers. Rodriguez attracted his share of suspicion about steroid use. When asked about those rumors in 2009, he replied, “Only God knows.”
Rodriguez, Raines, and Bagwell will be inducted into the Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, N.Y., on July 30.
Two other stars from baseball’s steroid era, slugger Barry Bonds and pitcher Roger Clemens did not make the cut. Both missed the 75 percent threshold for the fifth straight year.