Barry Bonds hasn’t played in a MLB game since 2007, but baseball’s all-time home run king still isn’t a member of the Hall of Fame due to his alleged involvement with Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO), a company that produced a then-undetectable sports steroid.
Though he was passed over once again in 2015 for introduction, the third year he was eligible for the Hall, Bonds’ odds of entering Cooperstown greatly improved this week after the US Department of Justice officially dropped its criminal prosecution.
“The finality of today’s decision gives me great peace,” Bonds said in a statement. “As I have said before, this outcome is something I have long wished for.”
In 2011, Bonds was convicted of giving evasive answers during his 2003 testimony before a federal grand jury relating to whether he injected himself with any substance using a syringe provided by his personal trainer Greg Anderson.
He was found guilty on three charges of obstruction of justice, and although a three-judge panel upheld the conviction in 2013, an 11-judge panel of the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the decision in April of 2015.
The Department of Justice had until Wednesday to request the Supreme Court take up the case, but instead prosecutors decided to allow the reversal to stand.
The high-profile BALCO prosecution led to the convictions of Olympic track gold medalist Marion Jones and many others involved in professional athletics, but also cost taxpayers millions of dollars.
“It seems that the government has finally come to their senses,” Victor Conte, the founder of BALCO who served prison time in 2005 after pleading guilty to distributing steroids said. “In my opinion they should have never brought charges against Barry Bonds and wasted tens of millions of taxpayer dollars.”
Hall of Fame Odds
Along with Pete Rose, Bonds is the most decorated player not to be voted into the Hall of Fame.
Five years after retiring, any player with a minimum of 10 years of MLB experience is eligible for the Hall, but to be inducted players must receive the support of at least 75 percent of voters from the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA).
Players who receive less than 75 percent but more than five percent are eligible for next year’s nomination process. In 2015, BBWAA members cast 549 ballots, with Bonds receiving just 202 votes, or 36.8 percent.
But that’s 2.1 percent higher than the number of votes he received in 2014, and with the DOJ dropping its federal prosecution, that should only increase in 2016.
Heading into the November and December voting period, Bonds was listed by Vegas sports books at around 35/1. When lines are released for the 2016 election, Bonds’ Cooperstown odds will be much more in his favor.
“I am relieved, humbled, and thankful for what this means for me and my family moving forward,” Bonds wrote in his blog. “Thank you to all of you who have expressed your heartfelt wishes to me; for that, I am grateful.”