Rafael Palmeiro was eligible to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2011. As a member of the 500 home run club and 3,000 hit club his plaque in Cooperstown was considered a lock until August 1, 2005. On that date, Palmeiro was suspended for ten days after testing positive for steroids. What compounded the situation was Palmeiro had appeared before a Congressional hearing six months earlier and denied ever using steroids.
Rafael hasn’t been back to Baltimore since the 2005 baseball season. Many friends, former teammates, fans and collectors haven’t seen him for over 6 years. So why would he come back now? Has time made it easier for him to deal with the struggles he faced in Baltimore during that time period?
Earlier in the year, MAB Celebrity Services, a New Jersey autograph promoter had negotiated a signature appearance with Rafael, to appear at the 2011 National Sports Collectors Convention in Chicago. Having played in Chicago, the appearance made sense, the fans and collectors came out to meet and/or reunite with the former Cub and get his autograph.
After that success, MAB felt it might be a good opportunity to bring Rafael to Baltimore, for a public signature appearance, at the Charm City Heroes 2 show. For weeks Charm City Heroes 2 promoters advertised that former Baltimore Orioles great Rafael Palmeiro, would be making a rare signing appearance on October 2nd at the Pikesville Hilton. Would fans and collectors welcome the former Oriole with open arms or would they boycott the appearance because he tested positive for steroids and the way the Congressional hearing had played out?
Unfortunately, we couldn’t make a determination from this appearance. Rafael was scheduled to fly into Baltimore from and return to Dallas the same day. His flight was delayed in Dallas for several hours due to mechanical problems. His flight finally landed at BWI later in the afternoon but his public signing time had to be pushed back much later in the day. Many fans and collectors opted to leave rather than wait because there was no guarantee the former Gold Glove first baseman was going to secure another flight to Baltimore at all that day.
While Rafael finally made it and fulfilled his appearance commitment it was disappointing not to see if the majority of fans and collectors would embrace Rafael. Kevin Cowherd, from the Baltimore Sun, interviewed Rafael in the backroom after the public signing. After listening to Rafael continue to deny the steroid usage I was disappointed many others who care about him did not have the opportunity to say hello and get acquainted again. He left later in the evening for BWI to catch a flight back to Dallas.
Rafael was eligible to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame this year but his vote came up way short. Only 11 percent of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) voted for him. He needed 75% of their votes to be inducted. It would seem Rafael has a lot of work to do to sway baseball writers, fans and collectors opinions. It was a shame he couldn’t have connected this past October 2nd in Baltimore.