Despite being one of only four players in history with 3,000 hits and 500 home runs, Rafael Palmeiro fell off the Hall of Fame ballot this year because he received fewer than five percent of the vote. His performance-enhancing drug ties, which include a failed test in 2005, ruined what were once first-ballot credentials.
Palmeiro was at his home in Texas putting away Christmas decorations during the Hall of Fame announcement on Wednesday. It wasn't until he noticed he had several missed calls that he realized the announcement was made. Here's what he told Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun about falling off the ballot:
“It is disheartening not being on the ballot anymore,” said Palmeiro, who is one of only four players with 3,000 hits and 500 home runs, but is also the only one on the ballot who was suspended for failing a performance-enhancing-drug test. “I was hoping to stay on it as long as I could. Maybe gain some momentum. But it went the other way.”
“I'll look at the bright side,” Palmeiro said. “I'll be eligible in  years, and maybe at that point things are a lot different and people see it in a different light. I'm disappointed. I am not going to lie. I won't say I was hoping for a miracle and that I'd get elected, but I was hoping to stay on it a little longer.”
Palmeiro will be eligible for election through the Expansion Era Committee in 12 years. His Hall of Fame support from the BBWAA gradually dwindled over the years, from 11.0 percent in 2011 to only 4.4 percent in 2014, but a lot can change in 12 years. It remains very unlikely Palmeiro will get into the Hall of Fame one day, but it is not impossible.
To his credit, Palmeiro takes full responsibility for his actions and blames himself for falling off the ballot:
“I take full responsibility, accountability for my mistake. It cost me tremendously in my life. It ruined my career and now it has ruined my chance of being a Hall of Famer,” Palmeiro said. “I don't blame anybody but myself. I should have known better and I should have trusted no one. You live and you learn. Some lessons are harder than others and this one I'll pay for the rest of my life.”
A total of 16 players fell off the Hall of Fame ballot this year. Jack Morris fell off because he exhausted his 15 years of eligibility while the other 15 players received less than five percent of the vote.