Baseball Hall of Fame reliever Goose Gossage says there should be no place in the hall for Mark McGwire or any other player who used performance-enhancing drugs.
“I definitely think that they cheated,” Gossage said on Tuesday in a telephone interview. “And what does the Hall of Fame consist of? Integrity. Cheating is not part of integrity.”
Gossage was reaction to McGwire’s admission on Monday that he used steroids in the 1990s to break the single season home run record in Major League Baseball.
For Gossage, Hank Aaron still holds the career record of 755 home runs and Roger Maris owns the season record of 61. The Goose tosses out the fantastic figures posted by Barry Bonds, McGwire and Sammy Sosa as part of a “cheating era.”
He equated them with Pete Rose, barred from the Hall ballot because of his lifetime ban for betting on Cincinnati while managing the team.
“The integrity of the Hall of Fame and the numbers and the history are all in jeopardy,” said Gossage, who was inducted two years ago. “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 said he would not factor doping into the equation and added that he would likely 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 [US] baseball for a few years there.”
Joe Morgan, a Hall of Famer and the board’s vice chairman, feels bad for players who didn’t use performance-enhancers.
“Those guys are being penalized twice,” he said. “First, the guys who did steroids had all those great numbers, made all the money, and the guys who didn’t do steroids and just had good years, didn’t make as much money. So they get hurt there. Now at the end of their careers when you have to compare those numbers to the guys who did do steroids, they’re going to get hurt again as far as the Hall of Fame is concerned. So I can’t in my own mind excuse what happened, whatever the reason.”
US Anti-Doping Agency executive director Travis Tygart dismissed McGwire’s claim that steroids didn’t help him become a better player, that they only allowed him to become more healthful.
“It’s just crazy. I don’t buy that for a second,” he 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 [MLB] that they take half responsibility.”
Steve Trachsel, who gave up McGwire’s historic home run No. 62 in 1998, was saddened by McGwire’s admission.
“It’s disappointing because it’s such a great moment in the history of sports. So many people were cheering for him and Sammy, not just in America but all around the world,” Trachsel said. “It’s kind of disappointing the whole thing is kind of dirty now.”