NEW YORK — A new generation of starting pitchers and a self-proclaimed Mr. Clean of the Steroids Era will be ushered into baseball’s Hall of Fame this summer. For tainted players, however, the doors to Cooperstown remain bolted.
Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas were elected on their first ballot appearances Wednesday, while Craig Biggio fell just two votes short.
Maddux and Glavine will join their former Atlanta Braves manager, Bobby Cox, at the July 27 induction along with Joe Torre and Tony La Russa, also elected last month by the expansion-era committee.
But Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and other stars whose accomplishments were muddied by accusations of steroids use lost even more ground, dropping below 40 percent in an election where 75 percent is needed.
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And on his first day as a member of baseball’s elite, Thomas said the living members among the 306 Hall of Famers don’t want those with sullied reputations.
“Over the last year, doing a couple of charity events with Hall of Famers that are in, they’ve got a strong stance against anyone who’s taken steroids. They do not want them in. They don’t care when they started or when they did it, they do not want them in,” he said. “I’ve got to take the right stance, too. … There shouldn’t be cheating allowed to get into the Hall of Fame.”
Making their second appearances on the ballot, Clemens dropped from 37.6 percent to 35.4 in voting by senior members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, Bonds from 36.2 to 34.7 and Sammy Sosa from 12.5 to 7.2.
Bonds, baseball’s career home-run leader, is the only seven-time MVP. Clemens is the lone seven-time Cy Young Award winner.
Mark McGwire, appearing for the eighth time, fell from 16.9 to 11 percent — down from a peak of 25.6 in 2008. Rafael Palmeiro will be dropped from future ballots after falling to 25 votes and 4.4 percent — below the 5 percent threshold necessary to remain eligible.
Maddux and Glavine become the first primarily starting pitchers to enter the Hall whose careers began after Bert Blyleven, who debuted in 1970. Maddux reached the major leagues in 1986 and Glavine a year later.
They also are the first teammates on a starting rotation to be elected together since 1946. Add in Cox, and the induction will be dominated by Braves.
“It’s fitting, given the influence those two guys had on my career,” Glavine said. “The thing that would have disappointed me the most had it not happened would have been a lost opportunity to go in with Bobby and Greg.”
Maddux, eighth on the career list with 355 wins, was picked on 555 of 571 ballots. His 97.2 percentage was the eighth-highest in the history of voting.
Glavine, a left-hander with 305 victories, appeared on 525 ballots and received 91.9 percent. Thomas, who hit 521 homers, is the first Hall of Famer who spent the majority of his career as a designated hitter. He was at 478 and 83.7 percent.