Sosa, eighth with 609 home runs, was among those who tested positive in MLB’s 2003 anonymous survey, The New York Times reported in 2009. He told a congressional committee in 2005 that he never took illegal performance-enhancing drugs.
Since 1961, the only years the writers didn’t elect a candidate had been 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 got in the following years. The other BBWAA elections without a winner were in 1945, 1946, 1950, 1958 and 1960.
Morris will make his final ballot appearance next year, when fellow pitchers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine are eligible for the first time along with slugger Frank Thomas.
“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. It’s to be voted on to make sure that they’re deserving. I respect the writers as well as the Hall itself. This idea that this somehow diminishes the Hall of baseball is just ridiculous in my opinion.”
Players’ union head Michael Weiner called the vote “unfortunate, if not sad.”
“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.”
The BBWAA election rules say “voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.”
An Associated Press survey of 112 eligible voters conducted in late November after the ballot was announced indicated Bonds, Clemens and Sosa would fall well short of 50 percent. The big three drew even less support than that as the debate raged over who was Hall worthy.
Voters are writers who have been members of the BBWAA for ten consecutive years at any point.
BBWAA president Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle said she didn’t vote for Bonds, Clemens or Sosa.
“The evidence for steroid use is too strong,” she said.
As for Biggio, “I’m surprised he didn’t get in.”
Mark McGwire, 10th on the career home run list with 583, received 16.9 percent on his seventh try, down from 19.5 last year. He got 23.7 percent in 2010 — a vote before he admitted using steroids and human growth hormone.
Rafael Palmeiro, among just four players with 500 homers and 3,000 hits along with Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Eddie Murray, received 8.8 percent in his third try, down from 12.6 percent last year. Palmeiro received a ten-day suspension in 2005 for a positive test for performance-enhancing drugs, claiming it was due to a vitamin vial given to him by teammate Miguel Tejada.
MLB.com’s Hal Bodley, the former baseball columnist for USA Today, said Biggio and others paid the price for other players using PEDs.
“They got caught in the undertow of the steroids thing,” he said.
Bodley said this BBWAA vote was a “loud and clear” message on the steroids issue. He said he couldn’t envision himself voting for stars linked to drugs.
“We’re a forgiving society, I know that,” he said. “But I have too great a passion for the sport.”
NOTES: There were four write-in votes for career hits leader Pete Rose, who never appeared on the ballot because of his lifetime ban that followed an investigation of his gambling while manager of the Cincinnati Reds. … Two-time NL MVP Dale Murphy received 18.6 percent in his 15th and final appearance. … At the July 28 ceremonies, the Hall also will honor Lou Gehrig and Rogers Hornsby among a dozen players who never received formal inductions because of restrictions during World War II. … Piazza has a book due out next month that could change the view of voters before the next election.