Hall of Fame pitches a shutout: No players elected

Steroid-tainted stars Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa have been denied entry to baseball's Hall of Fame with voters failing to elect any candidates for only the second time in four decades. (Jan. 9)

Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens finally faced a jury Wednesday that would decide whether they are worthy of the Hall of Fame, and the verdict was a resounding no: For the first time since 1996, no players were selected for induction.

Sosa, the former Chicago Cubs slugger, received only 12.5 percent of the vote, which keeps him on the ballot for at least one more year. Players with fewer than five percent fall off the ballot. Clemens was named on 37.6 percent of ballots and Bonds on 36.2 percent.

A Sosa representative said her client's only comment was that "it was an honor to be nominated" and he would be doing no interviews Wednesday.

The inclusion of the Steroids Era players on this year’s ballot overshadowed those who were thought to have the best chance of being voted into baseball’s hallowed shrine in Cooperstown: former Chicago White Sox outfielder Tim Raines, the Houston Astros’ long-time duo of Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell and All-Star pitcher Jack Morris.

Biggio was the top vote-getter with 68.2 percent, followed by Morris at 67.7, Bagwell at 59.6, Mike Piazza at 57.8 and Raines at 52.2. Induction requires 75 percent of the vote.

Also in contention was former Cubs closer Lee Smith, who was on the ballot for the 11th time but received only 47.8 percent of the vote.

Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson acknowledged the awkwardness of the result.

"Obviously, no one in Cooperstown was rooting for a shutout, but we have a great respect for the process," Idelson said.

This Hall of Fame eligible class had received more attention than most because of the inclusion of Bonds, who won seven MVP awards; Clemens, who won seven Cy Young awards; and Sosa, who won a National League MVP award after his famous 1998 home run duel with the Cardinals’ Mark McGwire.

In a statement, Players Association Executive Director Michael Weiner called the results of the balloting "unfortunate, if not sad."

"Those empowered to help the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum document the history of the game failed to recognize the contributions of several Hall of Fame worthy players," Weiner's statement read. "To ignore the historic accomplishments of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, for example, is hard to justify. Moreover, to penalize players exonerated in legal proceedings -- and others never even implicated -- is simply unfair.

"The Hall of Fame is supposed to be for the best players to have ever played the game. Several such players  were denied access to the Hall today. Hopefully this will be rectified by future voting.”

McGwire, the only one of those who publicly has acknowledged using performance-enhancing drugs, has failed seven times in his Hall of Fame election bid. Former Cub Rafael Palmeiro, who tested positive for a drug, has failed three times and received only 8.8 percent of the votes Wednesday.

The so-called Steroids Era has caused division within the electorate, comprised of 10-year members of the Baseball Writers Association. They historically have been very stingy with their votes, especially considering it takes 75 percent to be included in the summer induction ceremonies.

Here were the vote totals:

Craig Biggio 388 (68.2%), Jack Morris 385 (67.7%), Jeff Bagwell 339 (59.6%), Mike Piazza 329 (57.8%), Tim Raines 297 (52.2%), Lee Smith 272 (47.8%), Curt Schilling 221 (38.8%), Roger Clemens 214 (37.6%), Barry Bonds 206 (36.2%), Edgar Martinez 204 (35.9%), Alan Trammell 191 (33.6%), Larry Walker 123 (21.6%), Fred McGriff 118 (20.7%), Dale Murphy 106 (18.6%), Mark McGwire 96 (16.9%), Don Mattingly 75 (13.2%), Sammy Sosa 71 (12.5%), Rafael Palmeiro 50 (8.8%), Bernie Williams 19 (3.3%), Kenny Lofton 18 (3.2%), Sandy Alomar Jr. 16 (2.8%), Julio Franco 6 (1.1%), David Wells 5 (0.9%), Steve Finley 4 (0.7%), Shawn Green 2 (0.4%), Aaron Sele 1 (0.2%), Jeff Cirillo 0, Royce Clayton 0, Jeff Conine 0, Roberto Hernandez 0, Ryan Klesko 0, Jose Mesa 0, Reggie Sanders 0, Mike Stanton 0, Todd Walker 0, Rondell White 0, Woody Williams 0.


Twitter @davandyck

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