© 2022 St. Louis Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Post-Dispatch Sportswriter Details What Makes A Baseball Legend

Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Later this month, baseball fans and writers will react to who is inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. How are those players chosen? St. Louis Post-Dispatch sportswriter Derrick Goold detailed that process in conversation with host Don Marsh on Friday’s St. Louis on the Air.

Also discussed was the role of performance-enhancing drugs in the sport. Goold has written about how Hall of Fame support is building for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.  

Those who get to vote for the legendary baseball players are those who have been members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America for at least 10 years.

“There are many avenues into who goes down in the National Baseball Hall of Fame for players,” Goold explained. “The one that I'm involved in is the ‘ballot process,’ which is sort of the first, I guess, hurdle for players.”

Voters pick the 10 most worthy players that showed up on the ballot last month. The results, due by the new year, then get narrowed down to those players who received at least 75 percent of the vote, making it into the Hall of Fame.

I think overall, it's hard to find where it's gone wrong,” Goold said of the process “There is a safety net of sorts, because the hall does have what it calls ‘veteran committees,’ and that's what elected Lee Smith here.”

Narrowing the selections down is tricky, he added.

“They should be asking us a question of, ‘Is this a Hall of Fame player? Yes or no?’” Goold said. “And instead, what they're asking us is, ‘Who are the 10 most worthy players on this ballot?’ And therefore you have to find some way to trim the ballot down.”

And that’s where a controversial voting criteria comes in to play.

“The one that gets everybody's attention is number five … called the 'sportsmanship clause,’ Goold explained. “It says voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contributions to the team or teams on which the player played.”

“Some use it as a hard-and-fast rule to not vote for anybody suspected of using performance-enhancing drugs, some don't use it at all … some of my really good friends [say] when we talk about this personally [that] they're not the morality police, they’re baseball writers, [and] they're not there to judge based on what a player did or did not do. They’re there to judge on [a baseball player’s] playing career.”

Goold said he uses the clause as his “hammer and chisel to knock off a few names” and vote for other players he feels should be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Listen to the full discussion to hear more details on how baseball players get inducted to the National Baseball Hall of Fame:

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Alex HeuerEvie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.

Stay Connected
Lara is a producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.