Kenny Lofton’s opportunity for election into the Baseball Hall of Fame came and went in 2013 when he did not get enough votes to remain on the ballot in 2014 and beyond.
But his opinion of who should be elected into the Hall of Fame is as strong as ever.
The former Arizona basketball standout, who played in the big leagues from 1991 to 2007, was a guest Wednesday night on the Freddie and Fitzsimmons Show on ESPN radio.
The topic of discussion was the Baseball Hall of Fame voting that resulted in two of his big-league teammates — Chipper Jones with Atlanta and Jim Thome with Cleveland — and fellow former Arizona athlete Trevor Hoffman of San Diego getting elected into the Hall of Fame on Wednesday.
The names Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens came up with host Freddie Coleman asking Lofton for his opinion about whether they should be elected into the Hall of Fame despite their background with alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs.
Lofton attacked the subject like he aggressively took second base on one of his 622 stolen bases in his big-league career.
“I felt like I didn’t get rewarded for playing in the era where I had to compete with people who were in that era,” Lofton said. “When you hear people talk about these other guys, again, it’s a sore subject because you know that everyone is trying to figure out a way to get what I call people who didn’t play the game the right way into the Hall of Fame.
“It’s a sad way of looking at it because some people play the game the right way and you get punished and you play the game the wrong way and you get rewarded. And that’s where a lot of guys need to understand that you shouldn’t get rewarded for cheating.”
On a more lighter note, Lofton recounted his brief Arizona baseball career after his junior season with the hoops team in 1988 in which he tried out for Jerry Kindall’s team and played in only five games with only one at-bat. He was used primarily as a pinch-runner.
That occurred after Lofton played in the Final Four for Lute Olson’s Wildcats. He is the only player to participate in a Final Four and major-league World Series.
Hoffman, 50 years old like Lofton, played for Arizona in that season in which Lofton spent a very brief time with the baseball team.
After talking in depth with Coleman and Ian Fitzsimmons about being a teammate of Jones and Thome, Lofton injected: “I can’t forget about my man Trevor Hoffman, who went to Arizona; he’s an Arizona alum,” Lofton told Coleman and Ian Fitzimmons.
“He was there for my one at-bat,” Lofton said with a laugh. “Trevor was there.”
Lofton signed a contract with the Houston Astros before his senior hoops season at Arizona, effectively ending his stint with Kindall’s program.
He went on to play in two World Series and six All-Star games, earn four Golden Glove awards, and become a five-time American League stolen-base leader.
Lofton, a career .299 hitter with 2,428 hits, is not a Baseball Hall of Famer — received only 13 votes in 2013 from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America — but is a member of the Cleveland Indians Hall of Fame.
Raised in the slums of East Chicago, Ind., by his grandmother, Lofton earned a degree in studio production at Arizona and today owns his own television production company called FilmPool, Inc.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.