Ripken, Gwynn light up

BOB ELLIOTT -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:23 AM ET

What if you really wanted to be invited to a party but didn't get a phone call?

Would you change your deodorant?

Shave your beard?

Mark McGwire wasn't invited to baseball's annual induction ceremonies in Cooperstown on July 29.

Franchise players Cal Ripken, for 21 years the anchor of the Baltimore Orioles' infield and Tony Gwynn, for 20 seasons a San Diego Padres line-drive hitting outfielder, were elected to the Hall of Fame yesterday by members of the Baseball Writers of America Association, with 10 years of service.

Both were no-doubters, easily surpassing the 75% required to be named on the ballots. Ripken had a 98.53% (545 votes), third-highest in Hall voting history, behind only Tom Seaver and Nolan Ryan. Gwynn had the seventh highest at 97.6%.

As when Paul Molitor and Dennis Eckersley were elected in 2004, they weren't the whole story. The release of Pete Rose's new book the day before stole the headlines three years ago.

And McGwire will occupy today's headlines outside of Baltimore and San Diego, far more than the honoured inductees.

How does McGwire, who garnered 23.5% votes, get invited to the party? He has the home run totals -- 583 lifetime, seventh all-time. But with 1,626 hits, he has more than only three other Hall of Famers: Jackie Robinson, Roy Campenella and Ralph Kiner.

McGwire should 'fess up. Yes, he used andro. Yes, he had help with the single-season home run record of 70 homers -- besides the juiced balls used in 1998.

Maybe a simple apology would get him an invite?

Anything to erase the memory of McGwire testifying before Congress two years ago when he nervously said "I'm not here to discuss the past" again and again.

Ripken said waiting for BBWAA secretary-treasuer Jack O'Connell to call was something he didn't worry about.

"I really didn't get caught up with wanting to be unanimous or wanting to be the one with the most votes," Ripken said in a conference call.

As Molitor and Eckersley spent time answering questions about Rose, the 2007 inductees were asked about McGwire. Ripken said Gossage and Rice both belonged, but of McGwire said: "I don't think it's my place to cast judgment."

"I noticed a few guys coming back from the off-season who were bigger but I didn't notice anyone using steroids," Ripken said. "I'm happy MLB and the Player's Association have come together to form a policy on testing."

McGwire appeared on only 128 of the 545 votes.

"I hope as time goes on, his numbers will increase," Gwynn said. "And I hope that one day (McGwire) will get into the Hall of Fame, because I really believe he deserves it."

Gwynn had 3,141 hits, a .338 career average, won eight batting titles --tying Honus Wagner's NL record -- made 15 all-star teams and won five Gold Gloves as an outfielder.

Ripken had 3,184 hits, hit .276, won two MVP awards, had 431 career home runs, 3,184 hits, 1,695 RBIs, made 19 all-star teams and played a record 2,632 consecutive games.

On the rest of the ballot, Rich (Goose) Gossage moved closer to induction in getting 71.2% of the vote -- 21 votes shy in his eighth year on the ballot. Players receiving 70% always have been inducted ... eventually.

Both Jim Rice (65% a year ago) and Andre Dawson (61%) each fell: Rice to 63.5% and Dawson to 56.7%.

Gossage, Rice and Dawson should all have better chances with Tim Raines the top newcomer next year.

Former Blue Jays Jose Canseco (six votes), Tony Fernandez (four) and Devon White (zero) gained little attention and will be dropped from next year's ballot. And two votes were returned blank -- one as a protest to the "steroid era."

When was the last time anyone accused Ripken, rolly-polly Gwynn, Gossage, Rice or Dawson for juicing?


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