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April 11, 2024

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Poll says H of F not likely to call McGwire

NEW YORK – For one glorious summer, Mark McGwire was bigger than baseball itself. America stopped to watch each time he came to the plate, and cheered every time he sent a ball into orbit.

He could do no wrong, it seemed. Surely he would be a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame someday.

And then came that day on Capitol Hill. Over and over, the big slugger was asked about possible steroid use, and his reputation took hit after hit as he refused to answer, saying he wouldn’t talk about his past.

Now, with Hall ballots in the mail, McGwire’s path to baseball immortality may have hit a huge roadblock.

The Associated Press surveyed about 20 percent of eligible voters, and only one in four who gave an opinion plan to vote for McGwire this year. That’s far short of the 75 percent necessary to gain induction.

In fact, that total would put McGwire, for all his 583 career home runs, closer to the 5 percent needed just to stay on future ballots.

“There is a clause on the ballot indicating that character should be considered and after his nonperformance at the congressional hearings his character certainly comes into play,” said the Dayton Daily News’ Hal McCoy.

“He doesn’t want to talk about the past?” he said, “Then I don’t want to consider his past.”

McGwire, Cal Ripken Jr. and Tony Gwynn headline the ballot that was released Monday. Results will be announced in early January.

“Mark fits the criteria, just like everyone else,” Hall chairman Jane Forbes Clark said. “We’ve been very pleased with the judgment exercised by the writers over the past 70 years of voting.

“The ballot says a player’s record of achievement, contributions to the teams, the game, their character, longevity and sportsmanship should be considered. I think this year’s balloting will be interesting,” she said.

The AP contacted 125 of the approximately 575 present or former members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America who are eligible to cast ballots.

And the breakdown was:

– 74 will not vote for McGwire.

– 23 will vote for him.

– 16 are undecided.

– 5 refused to say.

– 5 aren’t allowed to vote by their employers.

That means if all the undecided and those refusing to say voted for McGwire, and everyone else voted, McGwire would need 84 percent of the rest to get into the Hall.

Chaz Scoggins of The Sun in Lowell, Mass., was among McGwire’s supporters.

“He wasn’t breaking any baseball rules during his career,” he said. “As for using performance-enhancing substances, the fact that so many pitchers have been detected using them kind of evens the playing field.”

McGwire played in the majors from 1986-2001, the first 12 seasons with the Oakland Athletics and the rest with the St. Louis Cardinals.

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