McGwire, Gwynn, Ripken headline first-timers on ballot
NEW YORK -- Mark McGwire, Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken Jr. headline the first-time candidates on the 2007 baseball writers' Hall of Fame ballot released Monday, sure to spark debate on Big Mac's place in history as the steroid era comes under renewed scrutiny.
Why was Jayson Stark dreading the release of this year's ballot? Because now voters have to decide if they're ready to become baseball's morality police. To read his blog, click here.
Players on 2007 ballot:
Jose Canseco, whose book last year led to a congressional hearing on steroid use in baseball, also is on the ballot for the first time. Canseco said he used steroids along with McGwire when they were teammates.
McGwire denied using illegal performance-enhancing substances, but when he appeared before a congressional committee, he evaded questions. "I'm not here to talk about the past," was his repeated response.
• For more of Buster's analysis, click here.
McGwire finished his career with 583 home runs, seventh in baseball history while Canseco, a former MVP, is 30th at 462. Dave Kingman, 34th with 442, has the most home runs for a player who has been on the Hall of Fame ballot and was not elected.
Gwynn, an eight-time batting champion with San Diego, and Ripken, a two-time MVP with Baltimore, are considered likely to gain election on the first ballot. Ripken played in 2,632 consecutive games, breaking Lou Gehrig's record.
"It's pretty exciting, I'll tell you that," said Gwynn, now the baseball coach at his alma mater, San Diego State. "I can't lie. Ever since I retired I thought about being on the ballot and waiting to find out what people think. I think I did enough, but we'll see."
Gwynn, a member of the 3,000-hit club and a 15-time All-Star, knows that the voting by longtime members baseball writers can be subjective.
"My numbers aren't going to change," he said. "We'll wait to see what the writers think."
Gwynn played with the Padres his entire 20-season career. He had 3,141 hits and a lifetime .338 average, won eight NL batting titles and helped get the Padres into their only two World Series.
Bret Saberhagen, a two-time Cy Young Award winner, and former MVP Ken Caminiti also are among 17 players on the ballot for the first time along with Harold Baines, Dante Bichette, Bobby Bonilla, Scott Brosius, Jay Buhner, Eric Davis, Tony Fernandez, Wally Joyner, Paul O'Neill, Devon White and Bobby Witt.
Jim Rice, who was 53 votes short of election last year, heads the 15 holdovers. Rich Gossage finished one vote behind Rice.
Reporters who have been in the BBWAA for 10 or more consecutive years are eligible to vote, and the totals will be announced Jan. 9.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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