A peek at one ballot that helped put Maddux, Thomas and Glavine in the Hall

Stan McNeal voted for Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas and Tom Glavine, along with five players who didn't make it.

ST. LOUIS — Congratulations to Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas. Making the Hall of Fame is special enough. Making it on the first ballot puts you in an even more elite class. All three got my vote even though, as the balloting turned out, they didn’t need it.

Sorry, Craig Biggio. Coming within two votes must hurt but, hopefully, the disappointment of coming so close this time will make next year even sweeter. He can count on my vote again.

Completing my Hall of Fame ballot was simple this time around. I voted for the three players I considered slam-dunk, first-ballot HOFers, and they all made it.

The five players who got my vote last year got it again: Mike Piazza, Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Curt Schilling and Biggio.  

And that was it. Of the other newcomers, I strongly considered Mike Mussina and Jeff Kent, but I didn’t see either in the same class as Maddux, Glavine and Thomas. Wonderful careers, indeed, but that’s not the same as a Hall of Fame career.

As for Barry Bonds and Co., I decided long ago not to vote for any player that I am absolutely convinced used performance-enhancing drugs. That meant Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro and Mark McGwire.

McGwire actually got my vote the first year I was eligible to vote. Despite all of the circumstantial evidence, I was not absolutely convinced he used PEDs. But once he made his televised admission, he lost my vote. His admission did not help him gain much support from others, either.

The ballot submitted by Stan McNeal.

McGwire’s support fell to 11 percent in the latest balloting, the lowest in his eight years on the ballot. In the four years since he admitted he used PEDs, he’s gone from 19.8 to 19.5 to 16.9 to 11 percent.

If the Hall ever tells me not to consider integrity, character and sportsmanship when casting my ballot, I’ll re-consider my stance on McGwire and other PED users.

In the meantime, feel free to disagree, as many do. Those who do often offer a valid argument (What about greenies? How could you be certain that anyone did — or did not –€“ use?). But remember, it is my vote. Understand I will make my best decision and move on.

If others want to vote for the cheaters, that’s their call. If any of the PED-users make it into Cooperstown, you won’t see me whining about any injustice. More than 575 BBWAA members cast ballots, and every one of them that I know takes the responsibility seriously.

If Bonds, Clemens, et al, ever make it in, they will deserve to be congratulated just like Maddux, Glavine and Thomas are being today.

You can follow Stan McNeal on Twitter at @stanmcneal or email him at stanmcneal@gmail.com.