NEW YORK - A new generation of starting pitchers and a self-proclaimed Mr. Clean of the Steroids Era will be ushered into baseball's Hall of Fame this summer. For tainted players, however, the doors to Cooperstown remain bolted.
Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas were elected on their first ballot appearances today, when Craig Biggio fell just two votes short.
Maddux and Glavine will join their former Atlanta Braves manager, Bobby Cox, at the July 27 induction along with Joe Torre and Tony La Russa, also elected last month by the expansion-era committee.
But Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and other stars whose accomplishments were muddied by accusations of steroids use lost even more ground, dropping below 40 percent in an election where 75 percent is needed.
And on his first day as a member of baseball's elite, Thomas said the living members among the 306 Hall of Famers don't want those with sullied reputations.
"Over the last year, doing a couple of charity events with Hall of Famers that are in, they've got a strong stance against anyone who's taken steroids. They do not want them in. They don't care when they started or when they did it, they do not want them in," he said. "I've got to take the right stance, too. No, they shouldn't get in. There shouldn't be cheating allowed to get into the Hall of Fame."
Making their second appearances on the ballot, Clemens dropped from 37.6 percent to 35.4 in voting by senior members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, Bonds from 36.2 to 34.7 and Sosa from 12.5 to 7.2.
Bonds, baseball's career home run leader, is the only seven-time MVP in major league history. Clemens is the lone seven-time Cy Young Award winner.
"As for what they did, I don't think any of us will ever really know," Thomas said. "But I can just tell you, what I did was real and that's why I've got this smile on my face right now because the writers, they definitely got it right."
Mark McGwire, appearing for the eighth time, fell from 16.9 to 11 percent - down from a peak of 25.6 in 2008. Rafael Palmeiro will be dropped from future ballots after falling to 25 votes and 4.4 percent - below the 5 percent threshold necessary to remain eligible. One voter submitted a blank ballot.
"I can go home and sleep at night and rest," Thomas said, "so I don't have to worry about all the nonsense that the other people are going through, because I know I won't be getting a call in the middle of the night from someone saying, oh, he did this or he did that."