The National Baseball Hall of Fame, in Cooperstown, N.Y., is more than a shrine to the great players of the past; it’s a museum of the history of the game, from its mythical beginnings in a nearby cow pasture. The small-town setting evokes baseball’s connection to rural America; there is only scant mention of the big-city corruptions that tainted the game, such as the say-it-ain’t-so fixing of the 1919 World Series.
But now the Hall of Fame has little choice but to address another stain on the game: the period that has come to be known as the steroid era. From roughly the late 1980s until the early 2000s, the use of steroids, growth hormones, and other performance enhancers was rampant in baseball. Assessing the extent of the problem will require intensive fact-finding, because players are still lying about their use of illegal substances; for some stars, it’s a way of preserving enough plausible deniability to get elected to the Hall itself.