1/9 Sosa receives 12.5 percent in HOF vote

Sammy Sosa was in his Miami office on Wednesday, working on his new business ventures. For him, it was a normal work day on a day that was anything but normal for baseball’s Hall of Fame. For the first time since 1996, the Baseball Writers Association of America did not elect anyone into the Hall of Fame. Sosa, the former Cubs slugger who belted 609 home runs in his career, received 71 votes (12.5 percent). A candidate must receive 75 percent of the vote from eligible BBWAA members to gain election to the Hall of Fame. Craig Biggio was the highest vote-getter in the results announced Wednesday, receiving 388 votes (68.2 percent). Former Cubs closer Lee Smith received 272 votes (47.8 percent).

“There was just too much controversy, in my mind, and it hurt guys like Biggio,” Hall of Famer Billy Williams said of the balloting. “[Biggio] had the numbers — you talk about 3,000 hits.”

The controversy revolved around players suspected of using performance enhancing drugs. According to a New York Times story in June 2009, Sosa allegedly was among 104 Major League players who tested positive for PEDs in 2003. Sosa never was found guilty by an official MLB entity.

“I’m like everybody else — you don’t know enough about it,” said Williams, 74, who was inducted into the Hall in 1987. “We, as outsiders, don’t know. We can only look at the numbers they put up. I was just telling [my wife] Shirley, and remembering that they talked about the people who were on steroids [in the New York Times report], that there were 103 people. We don’t know who was on that list. We don’t know who the 103 were. There’s not enough information to say ‘yay’ or ‘nay.’”

Williams said he would not want any player who did take steroids to be elected to Cooperstown.

“If he took steroids to make himself a better ballplayer, he altered himself as a ballplayer by taking drugs like that,” Williams said. “If he did this, and I was thinking to myself, if a guy did this on a Major League level, and hit home runs, not only did he hurt the Major Leagues but he hurt baseball. There’s hitting and running and stealing bases that make you a baseball player and that makes the game good.

“Eventually, some of these guys will go in [the Hall] when it dies down a little bit,” Williams said. “I think there was too much controversy with this election. Look at Lee Smith. Here’s a guy who was the all-time saves leader for a long time and he’s getting 50, 55 [percent of the] votes every year. He led the league in saves for a long time.”

Williams will be at the ceremony in Cooperstown on July 28. He doesn’t expect the heated and lengthy debate over the Hall of Fame ballot next year because of the players who will be eligible.

“[Tom] Glavine and [Greg] Maddux will overshadow the steroid talk,” Williams said. “You’ve got some great players coming up next year — Frank Thomas, too. We’ll see.”

– Carrie Muskat

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