No vote for McGwire

BOB ELLIOTT -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:48 AM ET

We finally have made our decision.

After countless hours trying to decide whether to vote for Mark McGwire on the Hall of Fame ballot, we've arrived at a verdict.

But there was much to consider. For instance:

How poorly McGwire fared at the Congressional steroid hearings. Had it been Law and Order rather than real life, he would have been booked.

ADMITTED GUILT

On the other hand, former Arizona Diamondbacks reliever Jason Grimsley has admitted using human growth hormones. How many other pitchers cheated and what happens to the homers McGwire hit off them?

And whether you play left field or first base you are innocent until proven guilty.

We then looked at McGwire's career stats, and that's when the light went on.

A total of 1,626 hits in 16 seasons ... that's it?

That total is enough not to vote for McGwire -- clean or dirty -- when ballots come out in a few months.

Cal Ripken (3,184 hits in 21 seasons) and Tony Gwynn (3,141 hits in 20 seasons) appear for the first time and both get my votes.

Can you justify voting for a guy with almost half as many hits?

A McGwire backer will ask about his single-season home run record of 70 homers. Very impressive. Those nights in St. Louis were magical. We saw homers No. 60, 61 and 62 at Busch Stadium.

Well, Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth's mark in 1961 with 61 home runs and that was pretty impressive, too, breaking a 37-year-old record. And we saw Maris hit No. 57 at Briggs Stadium in Detroit.

Maris with his mark -- and 1,325 hits -- was on the ballot 15 years and never got more than 43.09% of the vote, far short of the required 75%.

There are only three Hall of Famers (position players) with fewer hits than McGwire's 1,626.

They are:

- Infielder Jackie Robinson, who had 1,518 hits in 10 seasons with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

He started at age 28, having previously played with the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues.

For the good he did for the game, for the man he was and for the abuse he took as the first black player in the majors, Robinson belongs even if he had averaged 15 hits a year.

If Robinson had not opened the doors would we have ever have had the pleasure to watch the likes of Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Billy Williams and Reggie Jackson to mention a few stars?

Robinson was named on 77.5% of the ballots by Baseball Writers Association of America voters in 1962.

- Outfielder Ralph Kiner had 1,451 hits in 10 seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians. His career was cut short by a back ailment. He won or shared the NL home run title his first seven seasons in Pittsburgh. McGwire led his league four times -- 1987 and 1996 with the Oakland A's, along with 1998 and 1999 with the Cards.

With a ratio of 7.1 homers per 100 at-bats, he trails only Ruth and McGwire among retired players. Kiner had more than 50 homers twice, 51 in 1947 and 54 in 1949.

He received 75.51% of the vote in 1975.

- Roy Campanella had 1,161 hits during his 10-year career with Brooklyn. He was a three-time National League most valuable player (1951, 1953, 1955).

McGwire's best MVP finish was second in 1998. Campanella broke into the majors in 1948 at age 26 after playing seven season with the Baltimore Elite Giants in the Negro National League. The catcher's career came to an end after an auto crash prior to the 1958 season confined him to a wheelchair.

He was named on 79.41% of the ballots in 1969.

Statistically, McGwire compares with Hall of Famers Harmon Killebrew (2,086 hits, 573 homers in 22 seasons) and Willie McCovey (2,211 hits, 521 homers in 22 seasons).

And it's tough to sneeze at McGwire's career total 583 homers, seventh in history. Looking at the raw numbers and stepping back from the magic of September 1998, McGwire reminds us in a way of Dave Kingman, who had 442 career homers and 1,575 hits.

DROPPED

Kingman was light years short as a Hall of Famer, getting .7% of the vote in 1992 and being dropped from the ballot.

McGwire will do better than than, but 1,626 hits doesn't cut it.

He doesn't get my vote.


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