(Mike: late 30s American):
In recent years, there have been many discussions about retired all-star baseball players like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Mark McGuire being barred from the baseball hall of fame. However, it’s a whole different story as their personal transgressions are related to their performance on the baseball diamond. They cheated the game by violating fair play, which is what most fans and fellow athletes may consider as the ultimate sin for an athlete, as they used steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs. I personally agree with the select baseball writers who are entrusted to be the gatekeepers to the hall of fame for denying their enshrinement thus far.
I don’t think there has been a precedent like Kiyohara’s in the U.S. where a player’s personal issues following his playing days jeopardize his induction into the hall of fame. I personally think that professional athletics is the closest thing to a complete meritocracy system where a player’s performance on the field supersedes his personal shortcomings. So, I don’t see why it should be any different when it comes to evaluating the retired players’ careers and credentials for the hall of fame.
To argue the opposite extreme, should a below-average player with high character — a good teammate and a leader in the community — be inducted into the hall of fame for his volunteering activities outside the field? Induction into the hall of fame is not a nod for being a great role model for children. It’s recognition for excellence in their profession of playing baseball. Personally, I do understand the argument of character issues, but being a great baseball player on the field and an individual of high character off the field are two different things.
I think the player whose situation somewhat resembles Kiyohara’s is the MLB’s all-time hits leader, Pete Rose. Although he collected 4,256 hits in 23 seasons, he remains banned from the hall of fame as he has admitted to betting on MLB games during his playing career. Some may deem such activity alone as reprehensible, but there is no evidence that he actually bet on the games that he played in and whether he intentionally tanked games.
Regarding Kiyohara’s and Pete Rose’s cases, I don’t think that either player should be banned from their respective baseball hall of fames. Just as the court of law is the forum that will judge Kiyohara for his alleged criminal activities, the baseball hall of fame should be an arena that judges him for his achievements on the field. Induction into the hall of fame should be based solely on what the player achieved on the field. No matter how reprehensible the player’s off-field personal issues may be, they can’t negate the players’ achievements from the record books or erase their performance on the field from the memories of the fans.