NEW YORK (AP) - Nobody was happier about the Hall of Fame shutout than the Hall of Famers themselves.
Goose Gossage, Al Kaline, Dennis Eckersley and others are in no rush to open the door to Cooperstown for anyone linked to steroids.
“If they let these guys in ever _ at any point _ it’s a big black eye for the Hall and for baseball,” Gossage said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. “It’s like telling our kids you can cheat, you can do whatever you want, and it’s not going to matter.”
For only the second time in 42 years, baseball writers failed to elect anyone to the Hall of Fame on Wednesday, sending a firm signal that stars of the Steroids Era will be held to a different standard.
All the awards and accomplishments collected over storied careers by Bonds, Clemens and Sosa _ all eligible for the first time _ could not offset suspicions those exploits were artificially boosted by performance-enhancing drugs.
“I’m kind of glad that nobody got in this year,” Kaline said. “I feel honored to be in the Hall of Fame. And I would’ve felt a little uneasy sitting up there on the stage, listening to some of these new guys talk about how great they were.”
Gossage went even further.
“I think the steroids guys that are under suspicion got too many votes,” he said. “I don’t know why they’re making this such a question and why there’s so much debate. To me, they cheated. Are we going to reward these guys?”
Not this year, at least.
Bonds received just 36.2 percent of the vote and Clemens 37.6 in totals announced by the Hall and the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, both well short of the 75 percent needed for election _ yet still too close for Gossage’s taste. Sosa, eighth on the career home run list, got 12.5 percent.
“Wow! Baseball writers make a statement,” Eckersley wrote on Twitter. “Feels right.”
The results keep the sport’s career home run leader (Bonds) and most decorated pitcher (Clemens) out of Cooperstown _ for now. Bonds, Clemens and Sosa have up to 14 more years on the writers’ ballot to gain baseball’s highest honor.
“Even having just been considered for the first time is already great honor, and there’s always a next time,” Sosa said in a statement. “Baseball has been extremely good for me! Kiss to the heaven! It was an honor just to have been nominated. I’m happy about that.”
Bonds, baseball’s only seven-time MVP, hit 762 home runs _ including a record 73 in 2001. He has denied knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs and was convicted of one count of obstruction of justice for giving an evasive answer in 2003 to a grand jury investigating PEDs.