With the recent ABCNews/ESPN poll on Barry Bonds' inevitable breaking of the all-time HR record showing people think about it along the same lines that people thought (think?) about the OJ Simpson verdict, I have begun to ponder whether there is a white player who is equally disliked and has had his Hall-of-Fame worthy accomplishments downplayed in ways somewhat analogous to the way Bonds prodigious accomplishments currently are.
My best guess is Barry's former teammate, and noted motorcyclist/car washer, Jeff Kent. There is the occasional effort to examine his career in objective terms, but those efforts do not appear to be changing too many opinions. Am I missing someone, a white player, who is almost universally considered an unlikable person (based on media presentation) and who has had a very good/near HoF career?
For Latinos, Roberto Alomar comes to mind. The spitting incident and subsequent comments about umpire John Hirschbeck's child combined with his precipitous drop in production later in his career have appeared to make him a player who needs a public relations makeover in order to get the Hall-of-Fame consideration his career earned.
As for the opposite case - white players considered Hall-of-Famers while black and Latino players with similar numbers are not, I am immediately drawn to Astro's first baseman Jeff Bagwell. His 449 HRs do not seem to meet the contemporary totals needed to be considered a HOFer, but he is not summarily dismissed. Fred McGriff hit 493, and is generally considered as great person, but he doesn't get the attention Bagwell received. For Latinos, Juan Gonzalez comes to mind with his 434 HRs.
If the steroid cloud is used, Bagwell still qualifies, and Bonds can take the mantle for black ballplayers. For Latinos, none other than Sammy Sosa makes the grade as would Rafael Palmeiro who is the only player in this conversation with more than 3,000 hits and 500 HRs (3,020 and 569 respectively.)
Are there any other potential Hall-of-Famers whose candidacy can be broken down to racist arguments?