Sandberg: Sosa doesn't belong in Hall

Updated: June 23, 2009, 6:44 PM ET
ESPNChicago.com

Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg said Sammy Sosa, his former Chicago Cubs teammate, does not belong in Cooperstown because of integrity issues associated with the steroids era.

The New York Times reported that Sosa was one of the 104 players who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs during Major League Baseball's league-wide test in 2003. The results were to been sealed, per agreement between the league and the players' union, but Sosa's name is the second leaked for allegedly being on the list of positive results. New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez was the first, and has since admitted that he had taken performance-enhancing drugs.

Appearing on the "Waddle & Silvy" show on ESPN 1000, Sandberg was asked whether Sosa belongs in the Hall of Fame. "I don't think so," he said.

"They use the word 'integrity' in describing a Hall of Famer in the logo of the Hall of Fame, and I think there are gonna be quite a few players that are not going to get in," Sandberg said. "It's been evident with the sportswriters who vote them in, with what they've done with Mark McGwire getting in the 20 percent range.

"We have some other players ... like [Rafael] Palmeiro coming up soon, and it'll be up to the sportswriters to speak loud and clear about that. I don't see any of those guys getting in."

During a 2005 hearing before Congress, Sosa sat alongside Palmeiro, McGwire and Jose Canseco when he testified, "To be clear, I have never taken illegal performance-enhancing drugs." Sosa said he had not broken the law in the U.S. or his native Dominican Republic.

Sandberg and Sosa were Cubs teammates from 1992 to '94 and again in '96 and '97.

"I was around Sammy for about five years before I retired, and there wasn't anything going on then," Sandberg said. "I did admire the hard work he put in. He was one of the first guys down to the batting cage, hitting extra. I figured he was working out hard in the offseason to get bigger. It was just happening throughout the game, that even myself was blinded by what was really happening, maybe starting in the '98 season.

"I think it's very unfortunate. I think suspicions were there as they are with some other players. Those players are now put in a category of being tainted players with tainted stats. I think it's obviously something that was going on in the game. Players participated in it and, as the names have come out, I think that they will be punished for that."

Sosa and McGwire captivated the nation with their 1998 pursuit of Roger Maris' season record of 61 homers. McGwire set the mark with 70 home runs, four more than Sosa. In his next four seasons, Sosa hit 63, 50, 64 and 49 homers, then hit 40 more in 2003, a season in which he was caught using a corked bat at Wrigley Field.

Sandberg said he believed that punishment for using performance-enhancing drugs should include a ban from induction to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.

"It's something that's against the law and against society," Sandberg said. "It was cheating in the sport.

"I think it has to be spoken very loud and clear on the stance, and baseball needs to stand as they have. I'm very, very satisfied with the testing program they have in place now. For a guy who's tested positive today under what happens now, like Manny Ramirez, it almost takes an idiot to participate in that. For the society, for the up-and-coming players and youth out there, I don't think those guys should be recognized at all."

Sandberg played 16 major league seasons, all but one with the Cubs, and hit 282 homers while batting .285. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005 and is now manager of the Cubs' Double-A Tennessee Smokies in Sevierville, Tenn.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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