Former Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, shown Oct. 30, 2013, was the lone inductee into the Baseball Hall of Fame this year. He was in his first year of eligibility. File Photo by Matthew Healey/UPI | License Photo
Jan. 25 (UPI) -- Former Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz was the lone player to gain entry into the Baseball Hall of Fame this year, while home run king Barry Bonds and seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens were shut out for a final time.
Ortiz, also known as "Big Papi," was the only player to meet the 75% threshold for induction, according to the results of this year's voting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. He was named on 307 ballots (77.9%) in his first year of eligibility.
Ortiz, who bashed 541 home runs in his career, becomes the second Hall of Fame player from the 2004 Red Sox, joining pitcher Pedro Martinez.
"I am truly honored and blessed by my selection to the Hall of Fame -- the highest honor that any baseball player can reach in their lifetime," Ortiz said Tuesday in a statement through the Red Sox. "I am grateful to the baseball writers who considered my career in its totality, not just on the statistics."
Bonds (66%), Clemens (65.2%), longtime pitcher Curt Schilling (58.6%) and former Chicago Cubs slugger Sammy Sosa (18.5%) were in their 10th and final year of eligibility in the BBWAA's annual balloting.
Based on their contributions on the field, Bonds, Clemens and Sosa were considered sure-fire first-ballot Hall of Famers. However, voters declined to enshrine them because of their cloudy history with performance-enhancing drugs.
Despite his own PED suspicions, Ortiz was elected in his first year on the BBWAA ballot. In 2009, the New York Times reported that Ortiz was among 104 players who tested positive for performance-enhancing substances during a round of tests conducted in 2003.
The results of those tests were supposed to remain confidential. The testing was conducted to see if MLB had reached a certain threshold to stage regular testing for PEDs as the league attempted to move on from the steroid era.
The 46-year-old Ortiz has long denied that he used prohibited substances. In 2016, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said the tests from 2003 were inconclusive because "it was hard to distinguish between certain substances that were legal, available over the counter, and not banned under our program."
Manfred also noted at the time that Ortiz "has never been a positive at any point under our program" during subsequent testing.
Among the last-chance candidates, Sosa's support for induction never came close to the threshold, but the hotly debated cases for Bonds and Clemens were more divisive among the BBWAA voters. Bonds and Clemens climbed above the 50% mark in 2017 only to see that support plateau in subsequent seasons.
Clemens, nicknamed "Rocket," was an 11-time MLB All-Star selection and two-time World Series champion. He won the Triple Crown twice and was the 1986 American League MVP.
"My family and I put the HOF in the rear-view mirror ten years ago," Clemens wrote Tuesday on Twitter. "I didn't play baseball to get into the HOF. I played to make a generational difference in the lives of my family. Then focus on winning championships while giving back to my community and the fans as well.
"It was my passion. I gave it all I had, the right way, for my family and for the fans who supported me. I am grateful for that support. I would like to thank those who took the time to look at the facts and vote for me. Hopefully everyone can now close this book and keep their eyes forward focusing on what is really important in life."
Bonds was a 14-time All-Star and seven-time National League MVP. He ended his career with 762 home runs, 1,996 RBIs, 2,935 hits and 514 stolen bases over 22 seasons between the Pittsburgh Pirates and San Francisco Giants.
In a statement released Tuesday, the Giants said the franchise remains hopeful that Bonds "will gain election into the National Baseball Hall of Fame through the next phase of the voting process."
Schilling, meanwhile, climbed above 70% in balloting in both 2020 and 2021, but that number dipped greatly after the three-time World Series champion asked to be removed from the ballot after falling 16 votes short last year.
Schilling's extensive history of incendiary comments and social media posts appeared to be the main factor for his lack of entry into the Hall of Fame. Among those comments, Schilling appeared to endorse the lynching of journalists in a since-deleted tweet in 2016.
The cases for Bonds, Clemens, Schilling and Sosa will now move to the Hall of Fame's Today's Game era committee. The Hall's era committees are comprised of former players, executives and media who are tasked with judging the credentials of overlooked candidates.
The Today's Game committee is next scheduled to meet during the 2022 winter meetings.
Ortiz will enter the Hall of Fame during the induction ceremony July 24 at the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown, N.Y. He will join six players who were selected by a pair of era committees last month, including Gil Hodges, Tony Oliva, Minnie Minoso, Jim Kaat, Bud Fowler and Buck O'Neil.