Ex-LSU slugger Albert Belle gets second chance for election to Baseball’s Hall of Fame but Will Clark omitted from ballot
On Monday the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Contemporary Baseball Era Committee nominated eight players for a ballot to be considered in December by an eight-member panel for induction into the Hall of Fame. Former LSU star outfielder Albert Belle was one of the eight. New Orleans native Will Clark, who had been included on previous Era Committee ballots, was left out this time.
The Contemporary Baseball Era Committee is charged with re-considering major league players who had not been elected through the annual voting process by the Baseball Writers Association of America. Players who made the most impact on the game since 1980 were considered.
A player who fails to receive 75% of the votes by the BBWAA for ten years is dropped from the annual balloting process. A player who doesn’t receive a minimum of 5% of the votes at any point during their ten-year period is immediately dropped from future consideration.
Belle retired from major league baseball after the 2000 season. He first became eligible for the Hall in 2006. He received 7.7% of the votes in his first year. But after obtaining only 3.5% in 2007, Belle was dropped from future ballots.
Belle, a native of Shreveport, played at LSU from 1985 to 1987. The outfielder had nearly identical batting statistics in the 1986 and 1987 seasons. He hit 21 home runs and drove in 66 runs in each season. He batted .354 with a slugging percentage of .708 in 1986, while batting .349 with a slugging percentage of. 750 in 1987.
He received All-SEC second-team honors in 1986, followed by a first-team selection in 1987. He was named to Baseball America’s All-America team in 1986. Belle was a member of Skip Bertman’s first College World Series team in 1986.
Belle was selected by the Cleveland Indians in the second round of the 1987 MLB Draft. He played a total of 12 seasons in the majors, eight with the Indians and two each with the Chicago White Sox and Baltimore Orioles.
He became one of baseball’s most dominant sluggers during the last eight years of his career. He was a five-time All-Star (1993-1997) and a five-time Silver Slugger Award winner. In American League MVP Award voting, he placed second (1995), third (1994 and 1996), seventh (1993), and eighth (1998).
In 1995, Belle led the American League in runs (121), doubles (52), home runs (50), RBI (126), and slugging percentage (.690).
His career stats include a slash line of .295/.369/.564, 381 home runs, and 1,239 RBIs. He had a career 144 OPS+. Belle was a member of the 1995 Cleveland Indians that won its first American League pennant since 1954.
One of the main questions about Belle’s viability as a Hall of Fame selection is whether he played long enough at an elite level. Plus, he was often viewed as a controversial player within the clubhouse, while also not endearing himself to the media. These situations likely contributed to his failure to receive a larger number of votes by the BBWAA during his original 10-year eligibility period. But there is no doubt he was one of the most feared hitters during his era.
Other players nominated for this year’s Era Committee include Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Curt Schilling, who fell off the annual ballot last year after not obtaining 75% during their ten year period. The remaining four on this year’s ballot include Fred McGriff, Don Mattingly, Dale Murphy, and Rafael Palmeiro.
Players elected through the Contemporary Baseball Era Committee process will be included in the Hall of Fame induction Class of 2023.
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New Orleans baseball historian
Richard Cuicchi, Founder of the Metro New Orleans Area Baseball Player Database and a New Orleans area baseball historian, maintains TheTenthInning.com website. He also authored the book, Family Ties: A Comprehensive Collection of Facts and Trivia About Baseball’s Relatives. He has contributed to numerous SABR-sponsored Bio Project and Games Project books.