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Former Cleveland Indians shortstop Omar Vizquel falls short of election to Baseball Hall of Fame for 4th straight year

The 11-time Gold Glove winner's case was further complicated by allegations of domestic abuse.
Credit: Ron Schwane/AP
Cleveland Indians shortstop Omar Vizquel stretches but can't get to the ball hit by Boston Red Sox's Pokey Reese in the fifth inning Monday May 3, 2004 in Ceveland. Reese was safe at first base.

CLEVELAND — Cooperstown has once again not called Omar Vizquel's name, and it seems as though baseball was not the only factor in the decision.

Vizquel failed to gain election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame for the fourth straight year. The former Indians shortstop's name was checked on 49.1% of the just over 400 ballots cast, well short of the 75% needed and below the 52.6% he received last year.

The case of Vizquel has been hotly debated ever since his 2012 retirement, with supporters of his enshrinement pointing to his 11 Gold Gloves and 2,877 hits while critics have brought up his weak 82 OPS+ and low 45.6 bWAR. However, his candidacy was further complicated in December, when The Athletic published allegations of domestic abuse made by his estranged wife Blanca.

Blanca accused Omar of physically assaulting her multiple times, and police reports seemed to back up at least portions of her accounts. Omar has denied the allegations and no criminal charges have been filed, but Major League Baseball confirmed to the publication it was conducting an investigation against him, even though he is no longer employed by any team (he was fired from his job as a minor league manager following a separate incident involving a clubhouse worker).

After the allegations were made public, several writers who had voted for Vizquel in the past renounced their support for him. The Indians even appeared to distance themselves from their former star: While the team had openly supported his candidacy for years on social media, there were no posts about the flashy middle infielder after Nov. 17.

Credit: Phil Long/AP
Cleveland Indians shortstop Omar Vizquel jumps to avoid the Boston Red Sox's John Valentin after forcing him out at second base on the first half of a double play during the first inning in Cleveland, Thursday, June 20, 1996. The Red Sox's Mo Vaughn was out at first.

Omar released the following statement on Twitter Wednesday, which also revealed the recent death of his mother:

Vizquel was not alone in missing out on Cooperstown. In fact, no players were elected via the writers' ballot for the first time 2013. Former pitcher Curt Schilling, whose incendiary tweets have drawn the ire of some voters, came just 16 votes short of enshrinement with 71.1% and will be back on the ballot next year for the final time.

Vizquel's former Indians teammate Manny Ramirez was on the ballot for the fifth time, but received just 28.2% of the vote. The 12-time All-Star played eight seasons in Cleveland and helped the Tribe win two pennants before finishing his career with 555 home runs, but twice tested positive for performance-enchaining drugs during his career.

Credit: Orlin Wagner/AP
In this July 5, 1998 file photo, Cleveland Indians' Manny Ramirez watches the flight of his grand slam during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals in Kansas City, Mo.

Both Vizquel and Ramirez will be back on the ballot next year, having received at least 5% of the vote. Another former Indian, Ohio native Nick Swisher, falls off after failing to obtain a single vote.

Though there is no class of 2021, the class of 2020 will still be inducted in July after having their original ceremony postponed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Those set to be enshrined include legendary New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, former National League MVP and Montreal Expos and Colorado Rockies outfielder Larry Walker, star St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers catcher Ted Simmons, and influential players union leader Marvin Miller.

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