10 Questions With Richard Justice
4. Hall of Fame
Posted On 05.17, 2013
RCS: Of course, there is also the legacy angle to this discussion. In a recent Sporting News article, you wrote, "When you hold that [Hall of Fame] ballot in your hand, you're not voting on whether Ty Cobb was a good guy or whether Enos Slaughter was a racist or whether Gaylord Perry threw a spitball. You're there to decide if you want a Barry Bonds to be honored the same way Carlton Fisk and Joe Morgan have been honored. Call me naive, but I don't want Bonds standing up there with Aaron. I don't want Alex Rodriguez up there, either."
Since so much of the steroid debate centers around players weighing a moral dilemma versus a financial one, is it fair to reflect on how Hall of Famers from different eras would have acted in a steroid-saturated environment? For example, with what we know about them, is reasonable to consider if Cobb, Slaughter or Perry would have taken steroids?
Justice: When I hold the Hall of Fame ballot in my mind, Ty Cobb's name isn't on it. I can only vote on the names on that ballot. I can't take guys out and only have one vote to put guys in. Frank Robinson and Henry Aaron and Jackie Robinson and Bob Gibson represent what the Hall of Fame is supposed to be about. I don't want Barry Bonds standing up there with Aaron and Gibson on induction Sunday. He just doesn't deserve it.
I think most players would have been tempted to take steroids. I think it was Jim Bouton who said something about giving up 10 years of his life for winning more games, something along those lines. These guys are so competitive that if someone offered them a magic bullet to be even greater, they surely would have been tempted. But that's just guessing. We don't know that.
There were all kinds of ethical issues in the '50s and '60s. What makes steroids different is they're a real health risk. They sent a terrible message to high school kids and bottom-of-the-roster guys. If Barry and Roger are doing them, you'd better do them yourself. I'm not voting to put those guys in the Hall of Fame.