NEW YORK — Keep all the cheaters out of our club.
That was the prevailing sentiment from several baseball Hall of Famers who were happy to see Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa excluded from their fraternity Wednesday.
"I'm kind of glad that nobody got in this year," former Tigers outfielder Al Kaline said. "I feel honored to be in the Hall of Fame. And I would've felt a little uneasy sitting up there on the stage, listening to some of these new guys talk about how great they were."
Goose Gossage went even further, as he often does.
"I think the steroids guys that are under suspicion got too many votes," he said. "I don't know why they're making this such a question and why there's so much debate. To me, they cheated. Are we going to reward these guys?"
Not this year, at least.
Baseball writers pitched a Hall of Fame shutout for 2013, failing to elect anyone for the second time in 42 years. Among those rejected were steroid-tainted stars Bonds, Clemens and Sosa, all eligible for the first time.
"Wow! Baseball writers make a statement," Hall of Fame reliever Dennis Eckersley wrote on Twitter. "Feels right."
The results keep the sport's career home run leader (Bonds) and most decorated pitcher (Clemens) out of Cooperstown — at least for now. Bonds, Clemens and Sosa have up to 14 more years on the writers' ballot to gain baseball's highest honor.
"If they let these guys in ever — at any point — it's a big black eye for the Hall and for baseball," Gossage said. "It's like telling our kids you can cheat, you can do whatever you want, and it's not going to matter."
Hall of Fame pitcher Juan Marichal doesn't see it that way. He thinks Bonds, Clemens and Sosa belong in Cooperstown.
"Their stats define them as immortals," Marichal said. "That's the reality and that cannot be denied."
Bonds, baseball's only seven-time MVP, hit 762 home runs, including a record 73 in 2001. Clemens, the game's lone seven-time Cy Young Award winner, is third in career strikeouts (4,672) and ninth in wins (354). Sosa finished with 609 home runs.
"What really gets me is seeing how some of these players associated with drugs have jumped over many of the greats in our game," Kaline said. "Numbers mean a lot in baseball, maybe more so than in any other sport. And going back to Babe Ruth, and players like Harmon Killebrew and Frank Robinson and Willie Mays, seeing people jump over them with 600, 700 home runs, I don't like to see that."