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Baseball greats slighted

Roger Clemens.

NEW YORK – 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.

In a vote that keeps the game’s career home run leader and one of its greatest pitchers out of Cooperstown – at least for now – Bonds received just 36.2 per cent of the vote and Clemens 37.6 in totals announced yesterday by the Hall and the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, both well short of the 75 per cent necessary. Sosa, eighth on the career home run list, got 12.5 per cent.

“Curt Schilling made a good point, everyone was guilty. Either you used PEDs, or you did nothing to stop their use,” Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt said in an email to The Associated Press. “This generation got rich. Seems there was a price to pay.”

Bonds, Clemens and Sosa were eligible for the first time and have up to 14 more years on the writers’ ballot to gain baseball’s highest honor.

“After what has been written and said over the last few years I’m not overly surprised,” Clemens said in a statement he posted on Twitter.

Craig Biggio, 20th on the career list with 3,060 hits, topped the 37 candidates with 68.2 per cent of the 569 ballots, 39 shy of election. Among other first-year eligibles, Mike Piazza received 57.8 per cent and Schilling 38.8.

Jack Morris led holdovers with 67.7 per cent. 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.

Two-time NL MVP Dale Murphy received 18.6 percent in his 15th and final appearance.

“With 53 per cent you can get to the White House, but you can’t get to Cooperstown,” BBWAA secretary-treasurer Jack O’Connell said. “It’s the 75 per cent that makes it difficult.

“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.

“It’s a tough period for evaluation, that’s what this chalks up to,” Hall President Jeff Idelson said. “Honestly, I think that any group you put this to would have the same issues. … There’s always going to be discussion and concern about players who didn’t get in, but at the end of the day it’s a process and again, a snapshot in time isn’t one year, it’s 15 with this exercise.”

Bonds, baseball’s only seven-time Most Valuable Player, hit 762 home runs, including a record 73 in 2001.

“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.Clemens, the only seven-time Cy Young Award winner, is third in career strikeouts and ninth in wins.

“To those who did take the time to look at the facts,” Clemens said, “we very much appreciate it.”

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 penalise players exonerated in legal proceedings – and others never even implicated – is simply unfair,” he said.

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