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Will the writers send Mark McGwire to Cooperstown?

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Recent survey conducted by the Associated Press says no.  

Here's the scoop:

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.

"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, who hit 583 career home runs, headlines the ballot released Monday along with Cal Ripken Jr. and Tony Gwynn. 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, via e-mails and telephone, about 150 of the approximately 575 present or former members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America who are eligible to cast ballots. Of that number, 125 responded, including 25 AP sports writers. Most of the voters' names were obtained in the Major League Baseball media directory.

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.
  • 2 will abstain from voting
That means if all the undecideds 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."

The St. Louis Cardinals, McGwire's last team, suggested calls for McGwire be left with his business manager, Jim Milner. A message left Monday at Milner's office was not returned.

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig wouldn't address McGwire specifically, saying it was unclear how this generation of home run hitters will be judged.

"Time will tell. We'll have to work our way through all of it," he said Monday night. "All we can do realistically is take care of the present and the future."

Read the rest here.