Hall of Fame vote restores faith in sports

BILL MARTIN

Now that the Baseball Writers of America have shown steroid junkies Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa the hand, it has restored my faith in professional sports—sort of.

Baseball has always been the most difficult hall to break into and they proved it once again. Football has taken several missteps (Lynn Swann, Paul Hornung, Michael Irvin, Deion Sanders) as has the NBA (Calvin Murphy, Scottie Pippen).

There were enough old timers around to protect the game and uphold its traditions, thank goodness. Hundreds of writers turned in blank ballots.

The residue of this protest is that someone like Craig Biggio was caught up in the crossfire.

Don’t know if Biggio is a first-ballot hall of famer or even a hall of famer at all, but it put a damper on any chance he had. (Comparing him to someone like Joe Morgan, I wouldn’t have voted for him.)

I’ve heard all kind of excuses and rationalizations as to why these balloon heads should be let in this sacred hall.

“They were hall of famers before they started juicing.” Then why do it?

I’ll just say this: if Bonds or Clemens (Sosa will never get in) ever squeeze in the back door, Pete Rose would be standing right beside because what he did—while indefensible— pales in comparison to what Bonds and Clemens pulled off.

I am on the Rockdale Hall of Honor committee and I think it should be extremely difficult to get in and anyone who is considered for enshrinement should be held to the highest of standards.

It is a privilege and an honor that I take very seriously and my main objective is to protect the integrity of the hall and the committee. I always use baseball as my standard.

I will not even nominate someone unless they meet the standards that have been established by the previous inductees—which is extremely lofty. If I nominate you, you’ve been put through the ringer.

After all, these hallowed halls are reserved for greatness, not the halls of he was pretty good.

—bm—

While we’re on the enhanced performances trail, Lance Armstrong has given closure to his sordid tale—we hope.

The only reason I bring this up is because I interviewed Lance Armstrong about 20 years ago when he was a nobody.

The way I got the assignment was basically I was the only poor soul left in the newsroom and one of the copy editors bellowed, “there’s a guy on the phone who just moved here from Plano and he wants to talk about cycling.”

As I twirled my head around the newsroom to make sure he wasn’t talking to someone else, I reluctantly took the call.

He had barely introduced himself when he very passionately started ranting and bemoaning the fact that bicycling was the invisible man when it came to sports in the United States.

He had moved to Austin to train on the rolling hills of Central Texas.

He told me how he was being mobbed overseas and the press would follow him everywhere and everyone knew his name while here in the United States and especially Texas, he could walk down the street unmolested and unknown.

He was literally walking in the shadow of Greg Lemond, who’s records he would eventually break. He was extremely proud of his sport and was doing everything in his power to promote it.

The story ran without a picture in the back of a weekday edition without causing much of a stir.

Six years later, he didn’t have to worry about being recognized anymore. I bet he wishes now he could go back to the good old days when no one, including a sports reporter at a newspaper, knew who he was.


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2013-01-17 digital edition



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