Palmeiro, Gonzalez on Hall ballot
Suspected steroid users Rafael Palmeiro and Juan Gonzalez are on baseball's Hall of Fame ballot for the first time and join Bert Blyleven and Roberto Alomar, both having fallen just short in last year's vote.
Former Most Valuable Players Jeff Bagwell and Larry Walker, and former Rookies of the Year Benito Santiago and Raul Mondesi also will be on the 33-man ballot, the Baseball Writers' Association of America said Monday.
Mark McGwire, 10th on the career list with 583 homers, received 128 votes (23.7 percent) in totals announced last January following his fourth appearance of the ballot — well under the 75 percent needed for election. He admitted before last season to using steroids and human growth hormone during his playing days.
Barry Bonds and Rogers Clemens, both under indictments on charges related to their denials of steroids use, become eligible for the Hall ballot in two years.
Palmeiro is 12th on the career list with 569 home runs and had 3,020 hits, joining Hall of Famers Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Eddie Murray as the only players in the 500-3,000 club. Palmeiro wagged his finger at Congress in 2005 while denying he used steroids, then tested positive a few months later and was suspended for 10 days.
He tested positive for stanozolol, a person with knowledge of the sport's drug-testing program told The Associated Press at the time, speaking on condition of anonymity because the drug wasn't announced. Palmeiro testified before a congressional panel that he ''never used steroids.''
Jose Canseco claimed in his 2005 book that he used steroids with Gonzalez, who was 35 when he played his last major league game. Then Texas Rangers-owner Tom Hicks said in 2007 that he had no knowledge that Gonzalez used steroids, but said he was suspicious the two-time AL MVP did because of his injuries and early retirement.
Gonzalez's agent, Al Nero, said at the time that he would not respond to Hicks because the remarks were irresponsible.
Gonzalez hit 434 home runs and was the AL MVP in 1996 and 1998 for Texas.
When Andre Dawson was elected in January, Blyleven fell five votes short in his 13th season of eligibility and Alomar finished eight shy in his first season of eligibility. It was the first time two candidates in the same election missed by fewer than 10 votes.
Pitcher Jack Morris (282 votes, 52.3 percent) and shortstop Barry Larkin (278 votes, 51.6 percent) were the only others on at least half the ballots.
Candidates remain on the ballot for up to 15 years and must appear on at least 5 percent to remain on the following year.
BBWAA members who have been with the organization for at least 10 consecutive years may vote through Dec. 31 and results will be announced Jan. 5. Any winners of the writers' vote and at the Veterans Committee ballot, which will be announced next week at the winter meetings, will be inducted during ceremonies on July 24 in Cooperstown.
The complete ballot: Roberto Alomar, Carlos Baerga, Jeff Bagwell, Harold Baines, Bert Blyleven, Bret Boone, Kevin Brown, John Franco, Juan Gonzalez, Marquis Grissom, Lenny Harris, Bobby Higginson, Charles Johnson, Barry Larkin, Al Leiter, Edgar Martinez, Tino Martinez, Don Mattingly, Fred McGriff, Mark McGwire, Raul Mondesi, Jack Morris, Dale Murphy, John Olerud, Rafael Palmeiro, Dave Parker, Tim Raines, Kirk Rueter, Benito Santiago, Lee Smith, B.J. Surhoff, Alan Trammell, Larry Walker.