NEW YORK — No one was elected to the Hall of Fame this year — not even superstars Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa, all on the ballot for the first time.
For only the second time in four decades, baseball writers failed to give any player the 75 percent required for induction to Cooperstown, sending a powerful signal that stars of the Steroids Era will be held to a different standard.
All the awards and accomplishments collected over long careers by Bonds, Clemens and Sosa could not offset suspicions those feats were boosted by performance-enhancing drugs.
Voters also denied entry Wednesday to fellow newcomers Craig Biggio, Mike Piazza and Curt Schilling, along with holdovers Jack Morris, Jeff Bagwell and Lee Smith.
"After what has been written and said over the last few years I'm not overly surprised," Clemens said on Twitter.
Bonds, Clemens and Sosa have up to 14 more years on the writers' ballot.
"Curt Schilling made a good point, everyone was guilty. Either you used PEDs, or you did nothing to stop their use," Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt said in an email after this year's vote was announced. "This generation got rich. Seems there was a price to pay."
Biggio, 20th on the career list with 3,060 hits, got the most votes, appearing on 68.2 percent of the 569 ballots, 39 votes short of the threshold. Clemens got 37.6 percent, Bonds 36.2 and Sosa only 12.5.
Other top vote-getters were Morris (67.7), Jeff Bagwell (59.6), Piazza (57.8), Tim Raines (52.2), Lee Smith (47.8) and Schilling (38.8).
"I'm kind of glad that nobody got in this year," Hall of Famer 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. ... I don't know how great some of these players up for election would've been without drugs. But to me, it's cheating."
At ceremonies in Cooperstown on July 28, the only inductees will be three men who died more than 70 years ago: Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert, umpire Hank O'Day and barehanded catcher Deacon White. They were chosen last month by the 16-member panel considering individuals from the era before integration in 1947.
"It is a dark day," said Jose Canseco, the former AL MVP who was among the first players to admit using steroids. "I think the players should organize some type of lawsuit against major-league baseball or the writers. It's ridiculous. Most of these players really have no evidence against them. They've never tested positive or they've cleared themselves like Roger Clemens."
It was the eighth time the BBWAA did not elect any one.
There have been calls for the voting to be taken away from the writers and be given to a more diverse electorate that would include players and broadcasters. The Hall says it is content with the process, which began in 1936.
"It takes time for history to sort itself out, and I'm not surprised we had a shutout today," Hall President Jeff Idelson said. "I wish we had an electee. but I'm not surprised given how volatile this era has been in terms of assessing the qualities and the quantities of the statistics and the impact on the game these players have had."
Bonds, baseball's only seven-time Most Valuable Player, hit 762 home runs, including a record 73 in 2001. He was indicted on charges he lied to a grand jury in 2003 when he denied using PEDs but a jury two years ago failed to reach a verdict on three counts he made false statements and convicted him on one obstruction of justice count, finding he gave an evasive answer.
"It is unimaginable that the best player to ever play the game would not be a unanimous first-ballot selection," said Jeff Borris of the Beverly Hills Sports Council, Bonds' longtime agent.
Clemens, the only seven-time Cy Young Award winner, is third in career strikeouts (4,672) and ninth in wins (354). He was acquitted last year on one count of obstruction of Congress, three counts of making false statements to Congress and two counts of perjury, all stemming from his denials of drug use.
Sosa, eighth with 609 home runs, was among those who tested positive in MLB's 2003 anonymous survey, The New York Times reported in 2009. He told a congressional committee in 2005 that he never took illegal performance-enhancing drugs.
Since 1961, the only years the writers didn't elect a candidate had been when Yogi Berra topped the 1971 vote by appearing on 67 percent of the ballots cast and when Phil Niekro headed the 1996 ballot at 68 percent — both got in the following years.
Two-time NL MVP Dale Murphy got 18.6 percent in his 15th and final appearance. Mark McGwire, 10th on the career home-run list, got 16.9 percent, down from 19.5 last year.
Morris will make his final ballot appearance next year, when fellow pitchers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine are eligible for the first time along with slugger Frank Thomas.