Baseball Hall of Fame Reduces Eligibility; Bonds, Clemens, Sosa Hurt by Change

Steroid cases already had a tough trek to Cooperstown. Now completing the journey appears all the more difficult.

The Baseball Hall of Fame has limited the years a player remains eligible for enshrinement from fifteen to ten. The Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) begins considering players for induction five years after their retirement. The body voted in players Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, and Frank Thomas this year. Their induction ceremonies, along with those of managers Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa, and Joe Torre, take place on Sunday. 

The rule modification means that Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and other players tainted by performance-enhancing drugs will have a shorter period of time in which to convince baseball writers that they belong in Cooperstown despite their rule breaking. Both Sosa and McGwire appear precariously close to dropping off the ballot due to anemic support, as Rafael Palmeiro did this year after winning just 4.4 percent of votes. After the writers have passed on players, the veterans committee can take up their case.

The BBWAA grandfathered in Tigers shortstop Alan Trammell, Cubs closer Lee Smith, and Yankees first baseman Don Mattingly under the old fifteen-year system. 

Jim Rice and Bruce Sutter are among the 13 members of the Hall of Fame who required more than ten years on the ballot to win election by the BBWAA. 


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