Baseball's noisiest Hall of Fame voting season could be leading to Cooperstown's quietest summer in nearly 50 years.
Voting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America will be announced today at 2 p.m. ET amid indications ballot first-timers Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens will fall short of the 75% vote necessary for election. And the rest of the 37 candidates might be left out as well.
Steroid-era backlash is only part of the equation on why the first Hall of Fame ceremony since 1965 without a living inductee is a strong possibility. Bonds and Clemens were unquestioned superstars but also faced federal perjury trials on allegations of lying regarding performance-enhancing drug use.
With voters limited to 10 players per ballot and other strong first-timers such as Mike Piazza and Curt Schilling joining holdovers such as Jeff Bagwell, Jack Morris and Tim Raines, reaching 75% will be difficult.
A survey of publicly disclosed ballots by the website Baseball Think Factory indicates no player might reach that threshold. Biggio, at 70% in his first year, tops the list, followed by Jack Morris, in his 14th of 15 chances, at 65%.
Bonds and Clemens are at 43%. The survey includes 136 ballots. Last year's election had 573 voters, the second-highest total in history. The writers elected nobody in 1996, 1971 and 1967, but living Veterans Committee choices were part of those years' ceremonies.
This year's July 28 event is guaranteed three inductees -- Veterans Committee selections Jacob Ruppert, Hank O'Day and Deacon White -- but all are deceased.
"We've considered this possibility for many years," Hall President Jeff Idelson says. "We would enhance the ceremony. Without a doubt, the induction crowds would be smaller."
Idelson says the Hall is neutral in the election process but as a fan, he acknowledges fascination with the debate. "The dialogue surrounding this ballot has been greater than in any other year," he says. "Everyone can see how the voters have gone to great pains to reach their decisions."
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