It appears that Mark McGwire is going to encounter tough sledding if he hopes one day to be elected to baseball's Hall of Fame.
McGwire received no boost in his second year on the ballot, a discouraging sign for the slugger who ranks eighth on the all-time home run list. He was named on exactly the same number of ballots -- 128 -- in his second year as he was in his first time on the ballot.
McGwire's percentage went up slightly because a smaller number of ballots were cast. He received support on 23.6 percent of ballots, up from 23.5 percent in 2007. Still, that leaves him a very long way from enshrinement. McGwire's total was ninth-highest in this year's vote, and he ranked behind first-time candidate Tim Raines.
Only closer Rich Gossage was elected into the Hall of Fame on this year's ballot, receiving 85.8 percent (466 votes) by the Baseball Writers Association of America.
A candidate must get 75 percent of the vote to gain entrance into the Hall. This year, Jim Rice finished 16 votes shy of election with 392 votes (72.2 percent), and has one more year remaining on the ballot. Players remain on the ballot for up to 15 years provided they receive at least 5 percent of the vote.
The Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place on July 27 in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Many voters have expressed an unwillingness to cast ballots for McGwire because of his association with illegal performance-enhancing drugs. McGwire has never been proven to have used anything stiffer than the steroid precursor androstenedione. However, he was accused of steroid use in Jose Canseco's book, Juiced,
and did little to bolster his case at congressional hearings in the spring of 2005.
Still, it seemed reasonable to expect that McGwire might get a bump in his second year on the ballot for a couple of reasons. First, some voters simply do not vote for any player in his first year on the ballot, even if they view the player as a legitimate Hall of Famer. Second, in McGwire's specific case, some voters had expressed a desire to give him a one-year "punishment" for his alleged steroid use.
But if any voters did come around to McGwire in his second year, an equal number turned away from him.
McGwire finished his career with 583 home runs, which at the time was fifth all-time. He is first all-time in the category of fewest at-bats per home run. He retired with a .263 batting average, .394 on-base percentage and .588 slugging percentage. McGwire amassed 1,414 RBIs and scored 1,167 runs. He won a Gold Glove in 1990 and was a 12-time All-Star.
McGwire has made a point of being virtually unreachable for interviews during his retirement.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.