Goose Gossage was happy McGwire came clean, but told The Associated Press that there should be no place in Cooperstown for McGwire or any other player who used performance-enhancing drugs.
"I definitely think that they cheated," Gossage said a telephone interview with The AP. "And what does the Hall of Fame consist of? Integrity. Cheating is not part of integrity."
Gossage said Hank Aaron still holds the career record of 755 home runs and Roger Maris owns the season record of 61. The Hall of Fame reliever dismissed the statistics posted by Barry Bonds, McGwire and Sammy Sosa as part of a "cheating era," equating them with Pete Rose, barred from the Hall ballot because of his lifetime ban for betting on the Reds while he managed the team.
"The integrity of the Hall of Fame and the numbers and the history are all in jeopardy," Gossage continued. "I don't think they should be recognized. Here's a guy, Aaron, we're talking about the greatest record of all records. And he did it on a level playing field. He did it with God-given talent. And the same with Maris, absolutely. These are sacred records and they've been shattered by cheaters."
Hall of Famer Willie McCovey told The AP he likely would vote for McGwire if he had the opportunity.
"Whether he took steroids or not, he did so much for baseball," McCovey said. "He almost helped save baseball for a few years there."
In the report, U.S. Anti-Doping Agency executive director Travis Tygart dismissed McGwire's claim that steroids didn't help him become a better player and that they only allowed him to stay healthy.
"It's just crazy. I don't buy that for a second," Tygart said. "It's sort of disappointing you don't just come clean, take full responsibility. But the trend is with most athletes we've seen in baseball that they take half responsibility."
McGwire was not alone in criticism. Former World Anti-Doping Agency president Dick Pound criticized MLB Commissioner Bud Selig.
"I think the jury is still out on that issue and that the self-serving statements by Bud Selig do nothing to increase confidence," Pound said in an e-mail to The AP. "What has emerged in the whole baseball mess is that drug use is widespread and that even the best players are involved -- and still MLB is whistling past the graveyard."
Former Major League pitcher Steve Trachsel, who gave up McGwire's historic home run No. 62, was saddened by the news.
"It's disappointing, because it's such a great moment in the history of sports. So many people were rooting for him and Sammy -- not just in America but all around the world," Trachsel told The AP. "It's kind of disappointing the whole thing is kind of dirty now."
Byron Dorgan, a U.S. Senator from North Dakota, used McGwire's confession as an opportunity to urge the Hall of Fame Veterans Committee to elect Maris, The AP said.
"More than forty years after breaking Babe Ruth's home run record, Maris now stands as the only player to do so without the use of steroids," Dorgan said. "It's important to set an honest example for our nation's children who put themselves in danger when they try to emulate their sports heroes by bulking up with performance-enhancing drugs."
Houston Astros president of baseball operations Tal Smith said he hopes McGwire's admission will clear the air, "and we can move on."
Merv Rettenmund, McGwire's former hitting coach with Oakland, told USA Today that he never thought McGwire was a Hall of Fame player.
"But I still think he would have hit a lot of home runs, even without that stuff," he said. "I saw him when he broke in. That swing was designed for home runs. The only difference is that I think the stuff may have helped Mark through all of his injuries."
Former slugger Fred McGriff told the paper he suspected everyone knew what was going on.
"Going from 30 to 70 homers is a big difference. It's good, I guess, that he decided to get this off his [conscience]. But what bothers me is that he says he was sad he played in the steroid era. I don't get that one. Just because you played in that era, doesn't mean you had to do things. Nothing is going to change things now. No one is going to take away his money. He's still going to be a hitting coach. And there are Minor Leaguers still taking steroids, hoping they're not caught."
In a Q&A with FanHouse, Jose Canseco, author of the book "Juiced," said, "It's better late than never." In his book, Canseco said he injected McGwire with steroids while they were teammates in Oakland.
"I think he should have done it quicker than that," Canseco told the website. "He's still Mark McGwire. To me, he's still the best right-handed power hitter in the history of the game. He's a good guy who deserves to be in the Hall. No ifs, ands or buts about it."
Former international baseball federation president Harvey Schiller praised McGwire's decision to confess.
"I always believe that a public statement by someone who was involved with performance-enhancing drugs is a good thing as a reminder to young people about how serious the implications are for your future," Schiller told the AP. "We have now people who admit to taking performance-enhancing drugs and realize that it's a tarnished career, and it's unfortunate when you have a great athlete who doesn't even need it."
However, World Anti-Doping Agency president John Fahey was more critical. He believes McGwire's admission should encourage baseball "to further step up its efforts against doping."
"Mark McGwire's admission demonstrates some courage from an athlete who cheated his opponents and the game of baseball for years," Fahey told The AP. "But let's not forget he could have come forward and been truthful to all the kids for whom he was an idol much earlier. I would hope that he now sees his way to be a role model and clearly alert youth to the dangers of drug use and doping."
Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.