Rafael Palmeiro ‘disappointed’ to fall off Hall of Fame ballot

Posted Wednesday, Jan. 08, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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Disappointed.

That’s the word Rafael Palmeiro used to describe his feelings after dropping off the National Baseball Hall of Fame ballot on Wednesday. A positive steroid test at the end of his 20-year career trumped his Hall of Fame-caliber stats in the eyes of voters from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

“I wasn’t expecting a miracle, but I also wasn’t really expecting to be left off the ballot all together,” Palmeiro said. “I’m a little bit surprised at that. I knew there was a chance because of the guys coming on this year, but I didn’t think it would happen.”

Palmeiro paused and then repeated: “I didn’t think it would happen. When you’re on the ballot there is hope. When you’re not on the ballot, there is no hope.”

Palmeiro received 4.4 percent of the vote total, being named on only 25 of the 571 submitted ballots. Candidates need at least 5 percent to stay on for future years, which meant Palmeiro was four votes short.

But Palmeiro’s candidacy never gained steam. The former Texas Rangers slugger received 11 percent of the vote in 2011, his first year on the ballot. That rose to 12.6 percent in 2012, but dropped significantly last year to 8.8 percent.

Palmeiro now can’t be considered for the Hall of Fame until at least 2026 by the veterans’ committee, a long wait for one of only four players with 3,000 hits and 500 homers. The other three in that exclusive club were first-ballot Hall of Famers.

“My numbers didn’t speak loud enough, did they?” said Palmeiro, who had 3,020 hits and 569 home runs.

The reason the numbers were ignored, as Palmeiro knows, was his positive steroid test in August of 2005, which came months after he testified before a congressional panel and infamously wagged his finger saying that he had never used steroids.

Palmeiro has maintained — and continues to maintain — that the positive test was triggered because he injected a tainted shot of vitamin B-12, a legal supplement, given to him by an Orioles teammate.

“It’s either that or somebody sabotaged me,” Palmeiro said. “I’ve looked at every angle and analyzed it every way and I don’t know how it happened.

“The only thing I’m going to rule out is that I took steroids intentionally. I spoke the truth in Congress. I didn’t lie to those people. They investigated me when I tested positive by going back and talking to my high school teachers. They did a thorough investigation and concluded I never used steroids, never did anything. So this thing that happened to me in 2005 was a fluke.

“Why would I go to Congress, testify and then go home and take steroids? We were getting tested all the time. My mistake was I didn’t do my due diligence.”

Palmeiro went on to say that the positive test has ruined a once proud career, and the lack of Hall of Fame votes were only an extension to when his disappointment began.

“My disappointment started when I tested positive for whatever I tested positive for,” he said. “I knew it was going to ruin my career, it was going to stain it, so my life changed that day and it’s never been the same. I was very proud of my career and what I gave to the game and the way I prepared myself for each game and the respect that I had for baseball itself.”

Drew Davison, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @drewdavison

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