Writers block stars from Steroids Era

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NEW YORK --- Bert Blyleven and Roberto Alomar got up from their seats on the dais, smiled and slipped on the cream-colored Hall of Fame jerseys they had been waiting to wear for years.

Ex-sluggers Mark McGwire (left) and Rafael Palmeiro received little support in Hall of Fame voting. Both have the credentials for enshrinement, but a link to steroids has hurt their cause.   File/Associated Press
File/Associated Press
Ex-sluggers Mark McGwire (left) and Rafael Palmeiro received little support in Hall of Fame voting. Both have the credentials for enshrinement, but a link to steroids has hurt their cause.

No such honor for Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Jeff Bagwell and Juan Gonzalez, a quartet of stars with superior statistics still on the outside looking in, now and perhaps for many years.

If it takes decades for sluggers from the Steroids Era to be evaluated in context with their predecessors, so be it says Hall chairman Jane Forbes Clark.

"It will be interesting to see how it unfolds and what the history of baseball does to that question," Clark said during an interview with The Associated Press on Thursday after Blyleven and Alomar were introduced as the latest inductees to Cooperstown.

The preliminary judgment of the voting members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America has been to lock the Hall's doors to those accused or suspected of steroids use.

McGwire, 10th on the career home run list with 583, got 19.8 percent of the votes and well short of the necessary 75 percent. He fell from 23.7 percent last January, a vote held before he admitted using steroids and human growth hormone.

Palmeiro got just 11 percent support in his first appearance on the ballot, even though he is among just four players with 500 homers and 3,000 hits, along with Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Eddie Murray. But he received a 10-day suspension for a positive test.

Gonzalez, a two-time AL MVP implicated by Jose Canseco in steroids use, received 30 votes. Bagwell, never accused of steroids use but a star in the era when power totals surged, got 41.7 percent support in his first appearance despite 449 homers, and NL MVP and Rookie of the Year awards.

"I think the writers are doing a very good job," Clark said. "They have done a good job for us for 75 years now, and they continue to. And the history of baseball, the story of baseball, is what it's going to be."

Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, two stars under indictment in steroids-related cases, seem likely to meet similar fates when they appear on the ballot for the first time in 2013. Bonds is baseball's career home run leader with 762 and the only seven-time MVP; Clemens is the only seven-time Cy Young Award winner.

Clark says she doesn't make her own evaluations.

"The lovely thing about being chairman of the Hall of Fame is that you don't need to," she said. "That's the writers' job."


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