Bonds, Clemens, Sosa rejected as no one elected to baseball's Hall of Fame

NEW YORK (AP) — 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. 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."

Three inductees were chosen last month by

the 16-member panel considering individuals from the era before

integration in 1946:

Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert, umpire Hank O'Day and barehanded

catcher Deacon White. They will be enshrined during a ceremony

in Cooperstown on July 28.

Bonds 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. Clemens was acquitted of perjury charges stemming from

congressional testimony during which he denied using PEDs.

Sosa, who finished 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.

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.

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."

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've a forgiving society, I know that," he said. "But I have too great a passion for the sport."

Mark McGwire, 10th on the career home run list, received 16.9 percent on his seventh try, down from 19.5 last year. He received

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 10-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.

The election leaves the Hall without both baseball's career home run leader and its all-time hits king, Pete Rose. There were

four write-in votes for 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.

Morris increased slightly from his 66.7 percent last year, when Barry Larkin was elected. Morris could become the player with

the highest-percentage of the vote who is not in the Hall, a mark currently held by Gil Hodges at 63 percent in 1983.

Several players who fell just short in the

BBWAA balloting later were elected by either the Veterans Committee or

Old-Timers'

Committee: Nellie Fox (74.7 percent on the 1985 BBWAA ballot), Jim

Bunning (74.2 percent in 1988), Orlando Cepeda (73.6 percent

in 1994) and Frank Chance (72.5 percent in 1945).

The ace of three World Series winners, Morris finished with 254 victories and was the winningest pitcher of the 1980s. His

3.90 ERA, however, is higher than that of any Hall of Famer.

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