Ex-Yankee Gary Sheffield firmly asserts clean legacy in last-ditch HoF bid

Ex-Yankees slugger Gary Sheffield

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The greatest hitter on the 2023 Cooperstown ballot, Gary Sheffield turns brutally honest in a bid to push through his case. The feared ex-Yankees slugger finds himself in the closing year of his Hall of Fame eligibility, marking a decade-long stint on the ballot.

The former standout slugger grapples with a tarnished reputation stemming from his association with the steroid era and a link to the BALCO scandal. During the winter of 2001, while engaged in workouts with Barry Bonds, who had recently set the all-time home run record with 73, Gary Sheffield faced a challenging situation. Stitches from a recent knee surgery, aimed at removing cysts, began to rupture and bleed. In response, a trainer applied a cream to the wounds. Gary Sheffield vehemently asserts that he was unaware of the cream’s steroid content.

Gary Sheffield underlines steroid-free legacy

Gary Sheffield mentioned in an interview with USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, published earlier in the week, that during the incident, his immediate concern was the substantial bleeding from his leg rather than identifying what had caused it. He recalled that when the subject arose again, he was testifying about Barry Bonds.

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Gary Sheffield found himself among the 89 players listed in the Mitchell Report, yet he never faced suspension for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. Similarly, Bonds, whose links to steroids and association with BALCO, a distributor of banned substances, were more pronounced, also avoided suspension for positive drug tests.

Gary Sheffield asserted that he had only used it on one occasion and had no knowledge of its nature at the time. He adamantly stated that anyone claiming otherwise is not telling the truth.

In 2002, Gary Sheffield experienced a decline in performance after being traded to the Braves. Compared to the previous year, he posted less impressive numbers, registering 25 home runs, 84 RBIs, and a .916 OPS.

Gary Sheffield had an illustrious career

Throughout his illustrious 22-year career, Gary Sheffield, a nine-time All-Star with 509 career home runs, showcased his talents across eight different teams. His career boasts a notable .292/.393/.514 slash line, accumulating 1,676 RBIs and a substantial 60.5 WAR according to Baseball Reference—figures that surpass those of some Hall of Famers.

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Accumulating accolades such as a five-time Silver Slugger Award winner, Gary Sheffield achieved a batting title with the Padres in 1992 and secured a championship with the Marlins in 1997. His diverse career included stints with the Yankees from 2004 to 2006 and a brief tenure with the Mets in 2009.

For induction into the Hall of Fame, Gary Sheffield faces the hurdle of securing 75% of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America vote, the results of which will be announced on January 24. This marks a notable shift from the 55% he garnered in 2023. Alternatively, his candidacy could be revisited through the Today’s Game Era Committee.

“Do not question my character,” said Sheffield, via Nightengale. “I don’t play that game.”

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