JACKSON, Miss. — Rafael Palmeiro is now a member of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame. He hopes someday Cooperstown comes calling as well.
But he’s not going to grovel.
“My lobbying was done on the field,” Palmeiro said. “That’s it. I’m done lobbying. If that’s not good enough, I’m not going to beg these writers who have the power of the vote. I’m not going to say anything to them. If what I did on the field isn’t good enough for them, then I’m good with it.”
Palmeiro was inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame on Friday night in downtown Jackson. The 47-year-old played his college ball at Mississippi State during the early 1980s, when he and Will Clark were part of a formidable lineup that led the Bulldogs to the College World Series.
Palmeiro later became one of just four players in big league history with 3,000 hits and 500 homers, but his stellar career was overshadowed by a positive test for performance enhancing drugs just weeks after collecting his 3,000th hit in 2005.
He claimed the anabolic steroid was in a vitamin vial given to him by Baltimore Orioles teammate Miguel Tejada.
He still sticks to that story. But for the most part, it appears the big league hall of fame’s voters either don’t believe him or don’t care. His name was on just 12.6 percent of the ballots this year – well below the 75 percent needed for induction.
“People are waiting for me to slip and make a different story,” Palmeiro said. “That’s not going to happen. It happened the way that it happened.”
It’s been a similar fate for other stars from the so-called “steroid era.” Mark McGwire is the most obvious example, but three other prominent stars from that era – including Barry Bonds Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa – become eligible for the Hall this year.
Palmeiro believes they should all be in Cooperstown.
“Those are the best players in that era, no matter what,” Palmeiro said.