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Journalist stripped of Hall vote after giving away ballot

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A veteran journalist was stripped of his Baseball Hall of Fame voting privileges after giving his ballot to an offbeat sports website, the Baseball Writers' Association of America said on Thursday.

ESPN Radio host Dan Le Batard said that, as a form of protest over the voting process, he turned the ballot over to Deadspin, which polled its readers to fill out the ballot.

The BBWAA said Le Batard's membership, earned from his previous years as a Miami Herald columnist, was being suspended for one year and that he would no longer be allowed to vote on Hall of Fame candidates.

"The BBWAA regards Hall of Fame voting as the ultimate privilege, and any abuse of that privilege is unacceptable," the writers' organization said in a statement.

Le Batard, who said he was not getting paid by Deadspin for his vote, wrote on the website that he felt as though his vote had been devalued in the face of voting attitudes.

"I feel like my vote has gotten pretty worthless in the avalanche of sanctimony that has swallowed it," Le Batard wrote.

Le Batard said he was disturbed by "all the moralizing we do in sports in general," especially given the shunning of baseball greats such as seven-time MVP Barry Bonds and seven-time Cy Young winner Roger Clemens, who have been linked to steroids.

His ballot did not affect any Hall of Fame candidate's election bid in the balloting by BBWAA members with at least 10 years of membership.

(Reporting by Larry Fine; Editing by Frank Pingue)

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