Baseball Hall of Fame voters pitched a shutout Wednesday for the first time since 1996.
No player was deemed worthy this year by the Baseball Writers' Association of America, who failed to elect a candidate for only the second time in four decades. That leaves the Hall of Fame induction ceremony in July with only three honorees chosen in December by the Veterans Committee.
Steroid scandals undoubtedly had a big impact. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa, all linked to performance-enhancing drug use, fell well short of the required 75 percent for election. Clemens received 37.6 percent, Bonds was named on 36.2 percent of the ballots and Sosa was limited to 12.5 percent.
In his response via Twitter, Clemens said he was not surprised.
"After what has been written and said over the last few weeks I'm not overly surprised," Clemens wrote on Twitter, according to HardballTalk.com. "Thanks to all the teams I've worked with and to fans and friends for all the fantastic letters, voice mails, and texts of support over the last few years. To those who did take the time to look at the fact...we very much appreciate it."
Former Houston Astros infielder Craig Biggio, who ranks 20th on baseball's career hits list with 3,060, came the closest, receiving 388 of 569 votes for 68 percent. He fell 39 votes short.
Biggio was followed in the voting by first-time candidate Mike Piazza (57.8 percent), Tim Raines (52.2 percent), Lee Smith (47.8), Curt Schilling (38.8), Edgar Martinez (35.9) and Alan Trammell (33.6).
"Major League Baseball recognizes that election to the Hall of Fame is our game's most extraordinary individual honor," Major League Baseball said in a statement. "Achieving enshrinement in Cooperstown is difficult, as it should be, and there have been seven other years when no one was elected by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
"While this year did not produce an electee, there are many worthy candidates who will merit consideration in the future. We respect both the long-standing process that the Hall of Fame has in place and the role of the BBWAA, whose members have voted in the Hall of Fame's elections since 1936."
Pitcher Jack Morris received 67.7 percent in his next-to-last year of eligibility. Outfielder Dale Murphy, a former two-time National League MVP, fell short in his final year of eligibility.
Next year's list of first-time candidates appears more promising to gain support, with pitchers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine and slugger Frank Thomas at the top of the list.
Longtime New York Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert, umpire Hank O'Day and 19th-century catcher Deacon White are the veteran inductees who will be honored July 29 in Cooperstown, N.Y. All three have passed away.