Steroid-tainted stars Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa were denied entry to baseball’s Hall of Fame, with voters failing to elect any candidates for only the second time in four decades.
Bonds received just 36.2 percent of the vote, Clemens 37.6 and Sosa 12.5 in totals announced Wednesday by the Hall and the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. They were appearing on the ballot for the first time and have up to 14 more years to make it to Cooperstown.
Craig Biggio, 20th on the career list with 3,060 hits, topped the 37 candidates with 68.2 percent of the 569 ballots, 39 shy of the 75 percent needed. Among other first-year eligibles, Mike Piazza received 57.8 percent and Curt Schilling 38.8
Jack Morris led holdovers with 67.7 percent. He will make his final ballot appearance next year, when fellow pitchers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine along with slugger Frank Thomas are eligible for the first time.
It was the eighth time the BBWAA failed to elect any players. There were four fewer votes than last year and five members submitted blank ballots.
“The standards for earning election to the Hall of Fame have been very high ever since the rules were created in 1936,” Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson said. “We realize the challenges voters are faced with in this era. The Hall of Fame has always entrusted the exclusive voting privilege to the baseball writers. We remain pleased with their role in evaluating candidates based on the criteria we provide.”
Bonds, baseball’s only seven-time Most Valuable Player, is the sport’s season and career home run leader.
Clemens, the only seven-time Cy Young Award winner, is third in career strikeouts and ninth in wins.
“It is unimaginable that the best player to ever play the game would not be a unanimous first-ballot selection,” said Jeff Borris of the Beverly Hills Sports Council, Bonds’ longtime agent.
The previous two times the writers didn’t elect a candidate were when Yogi Berra topped the 1971 vote by appearing on 67 percent of the ballots cast and when Phil Niekro headed the 1996 ballot at 68 percent. Both were chosen the following years when they achieved the 75 percent necessary for election.
“Next year, I think you’ll have a rather large class and this year, for whatever reasons, you had a couple of guys come really close,” Commissioner Bud Selig said at the owners’ meetings in Paradise Valley, Ariz. “This is not to be voted to make sure that somebody gets in every year.