‘‘I don’t know if baseball knows how to deal with this at all,’’ Gossage said. ‘‘Why don’t they strip these guys of all these numbers? You've got to suffer the consequences. You get caught cheating on a test, you get expelled from school.’’
Juan Marichal is one Hall of Famer who doesn’t see it that way. The former pitcher believes Bonds, Clemens and Sosa belong in Cooperstown.
‘‘I think that they have been unfair to guys who were never found guilty of anything,’’ Marichal said. ‘‘Their stats define them as immortals. That’s the reality and that cannot be denied.’’
The BBWAA election rules say ‘‘voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.’’
While much of the focus this year was on Bonds, Clemens and Sosa, every other player with Cooperstown credentials was denied, too.
Craig Biggio, 20th on the career list with 3,060 hits, came the closest. He was chosen on 68.2 percent of the 569 ballots, 39 shy of election. Among other first-year eligibles, Mike Piazza received 57.8 percent and Curt Schilling 38.8. Jack Morris topped holdovers with 67.7 percent.
None of those players have been publicly linked to PED use, so it’s difficult to determine whether they fell short due to suspicion, their stats — or the overall stench of the era they played in.
‘‘What we’re witnessing here is innocent people paying for the sinners,’’ Marichal said.
Hall of Fame slugger Mike Schmidt said that comes with the territory.
‘‘It’s not news that Bonds, Clemens, Sosa, Palmeiro, and McGwire didn’t get in, but that they received hardly any consideration at all. The real news is that Biggio and Piazza were well under the 75 percent needed,’’ Schmidt wrote in an email to the AP.
‘‘Curt Schilling made a good point. Everyone was guilty. Either you used PEDs, or you did nothing to stop their use. This generation got rich. Seems there was a price to pay.’’
At ceremonies in Cooperstown on July 28, the only inductees will be three men who died more than 70 years ago: Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert, umpire Hank O'Day and barehanded catcher Deacon White. They were chosen last month by the 16-member panel considering individuals from the era before integration in 1947.
AP Baseball Writer Ben Walker, AP Sports Writers Ronald Blum and Dan Gelston, and AP freelance writer Dionisio Soldevila contributed to this report.