The Steroids Wing in the Baseball Hall of Fame
At the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York there is one individual with more dedicated physical space than any other - Hank Aaron. There is an impressive amount of real estate dedicated solely to Babe Ruth too. Barry Bonds, who accumulated more career home runs than each of them, not so much.
His presence in the hall is relegated to one single glass case, and it's not even his case alone. The Bonds 756th home run ball can be found here, with an asterisk literally cut into it by the purchaser in order to spotlight "this unforgettable moment in sports history and popular culture." The ball resides next to jerseys worn by Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa during the famous 1998 home run record chase in which both surpassed Roger Maris' 61 homers in 1961.
There's even a copy of Sports Illustrated, with both men depicted as Greek Gods and anointed "Sportsmen of the Year" on the cover. Another copy of SI in this display is of the "Special Report" variety, and "Steroids in Baseball" is the cover story. Consider this the "steroid wing" of the Hall of Fame, as it includes artifacts from players who either tested positive for performance enhancing drugs (PEDs), or were strongly suspected of having taken them. It's quite possibly the most interesting single display case in the entire hall, and you can see some of the artifacts pictured in my tweet below:
You have Alex Rodriguez's batting helmet from his 500th homer, the bat Rafael Palmeiro used to club home run number 500, a fan sign honoring infamous whistleblower Jose Canseco, a Ryan Braun game program from 2012 and the pitching rubber upon which Roger Clemens surpassed 3,500 career strikeouts. There's even a copy of the famous 2007 Mitchell Report, in which the former U.S. Senator, George Mitchell, exposed PEDs usage moo on every team in baseball.
As mentioned in the descriptive placards in the case, 1996 NL MVP Ken Caminiti was the first to admit using steroids, after retiring in 2001, and estimated that half of baseball was doing so in the 1990s. For these players, there will almost certainly never be a plaque downstairs, enshrining them in baseball's highest of pantheons.
There is a wide range of opinion on whether or not this is just, but it is the status quo. And it's hard to imagine it changing any time soon.
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly appears on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” podcast on SB Nation.