NEW YORK - Mark McGwire could miss making the Hall of Fame because of baseball's swirling steroids scandal, heightened by his refusal to answer specific questions before Congress, an Associated Press survey showed yesterday.
Barry Bonds would get enough support to make it into Cooperstown, but he's far from being a shoo-in, according to results from 155 Hall voters polled this week among the roughly 500 eligible.
Only 65 said they would vote for McGwire when he becomes eligible in two years or were leaning that way; 52 said no or were leaning that way and 38 were undecided.
Bonds received 105 votes for election, 25 against and 25 were undecided.
Players need 75 percent of the vote to get into the Hall.
McGwire got just 55.6 percent support from those who gave a yes/no response, while Bonds was at 80.8 percent.
"I will not vote for Mark McGwire," Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times said. "It's obvious from his own statements he used some form of performance-enhancing drugs and it's obvious from his statistics he did not become a Hall of Fame-type player until he did so."
McGwire hit 583 home runs and ranks sixth on the career list, and broke Roger Maris' record in 1998 by hitting 70 home runs.
Bonds hit 73 home runs in 2001, breaking McGwire's mark. He has 703, just 52 shy of Hank Aaron's record.
Among the 20 players to hit 500 homers, all who have appeared on the ballot are in the Hall.
"Right now I'm sort of sitting on the fence, but leaning toward not voting for McGwire or Bonds because they cheated," said Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News, a member of the Hall's writers' wing.
"McGwire had the opportunity to say something, but didn't. To me, that's sort of like pleading the Fifth Amendment and not denying he did it," he said.
Bonds, who has denied using illegal steroids, was not asked to appear before Congress. But in 2003, the San Francisco star testified before the federal grand jury investigating the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, known as BALCO.
Henry Schulman, who covers the Giants for the San Francisco Chronicle, plans to vote for both.
"The Hall of Fame is not a museum for saints. It's filled with racists, philanderers, players who used cork bats and spitters and everything at their disposal to their advantage," he said. "It's hard for me to single McGwire out. Unless he commits a crime, he's on my ballot."
As for Bonds, Schulman said: "I think he was a Hall of Famer before he had those monster home run seasons."