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Sportswriter Who Let Readers Fill Out Hall Of Fame Ballot Is Banned

After it was revealed that he used his Baseball Hall of Fame voter ballot to pass along the suggestions of readers of the sports site Deadspin, Dan Le Batard has been stripped of his membership in the Baseball Writers Association of America. He is also banned from all future Hall of Fame votes.

Le Batard is a columnist for The Miami Herald who is also on ESPN radio and TV. He said Thursday that he worked with Deadspin to turn his ballot over to sports fans for many reasons, emphasizing a need for reform in Hall of Fame voting.

After initially announcing on Twitter that he could not attend a baseball game with a media credential for one year as part of the punishment, Le Batard corrected that, saying he "can be credentialed but can't vote on awards and my card revoked for constitutional max of one year."

In a statement released Thursday, BBWAA President La Velle E. Neal III wrote:

"The BBWAA Board of Directors has decided to remove Dan Le Batard's membership for one year, for transferring his Hall of Fame ballot to an entity that has not earned voting status. The punishment is allowed under the organization's constitution.

"In addition, Le Batard will not be allowed to vote on Hall of Fame candidates from this point on.

"The BBWAA regards Hall of Fame voting as the ultimate privilege, and any abuse of that privilege is unacceptable."

After the Hall of Fame voting results were announced Wednesday, Deadspin published an account in which it said its readers' choices were similar to the official picks, with Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and Frank Thomas at the top of the list. Those three players were voted into the hall Wednesday, as The Two-Way reported.

Deadspin called Le Batard "the voter who joined us in making a farce and mockery of the increasingly solemn election process by turning his vote over to you, the readers."

In the same post, the columnist said he could face a ban for his act, for which he received no compensation, according to Deadspin. He also said he had many reasons for risking it — and that he didn't regret letting the readers choose for him.

"I happen to agree with most of the reader selections," Le Batard wrote. "I was afraid you guys were going to have me voting for Jacque Jones and no one else."

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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