So Ripken and Gwynn deservingly got the Hall of Fame nod (and McGwire did not), but neither was a unanimous selection because at least one voter, Paul Ladewski of the Daily Southtown in Chicago, turned in a blank ballot.
Part of this, he says here, is because in the steriod era you can't be sure who might have been on the juice. Fair enough, except that Ripken had his best years before steroids infiltrated the game, and Gwynn, well, one look at the Padres' Stay Puft Marshmallow Man should be evidence enough of his steroid innocence.
As for being philosophically opposed to unanimous selections in general, Ladewski says, "Walter Johnson, Cy Young and Honus Wagner didn't receive (unanimous) Hall passes. Neither did Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth and Ted Williams. In fact, nobody has in the history of the game."
For a second there, I thought, OK, maybe he has a point. If Babe Ruth can't get 100 percent of the vote, who can? So I checked out the Hall of Fame voting, and, duh, back in the early days there were so many deserving players on the ballot there was no way anyone would get 100 percent of the vote. Votes were split between a number of HoF-worthy players, preventing many from getting in on their first or even second or third ballots. Cy Young, Rogers Hornsby, Lou Gehrig, these guys all came up short in 1936 because the stockpile of HoF-worthy players prevented more than handful from gaining entry. This continued for the next couple decades until the Ellis Island-like line of deserving players was trimmed.
But despite guys like Ladewski, baseball, I'd say, has the best HoF voting system. Any HoF voting system is going to have its flaws. Basketball, though, seemingly lets in anybody who ever dribbled and if you want to get into the football HoF you better have won a Super Bowl, especially if you're a lineman or defensive player. Baseball, though, has it about right -- a couple guys at most each year, and most are deserving (Gary Carter notwithstanding).