CHICAGO -- Sammy Sosa's Cubs teammate, Greg Maddux, made it to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Sosa, however, saw his vote totals drop.
The Baseball Writers' Association of America elected Maddux, Tom Glavine, and Frank Thomas into the Hall on Wednesday. Sosa received 41 votes, or 7.2 percent in his second year on the ballot. Last year, he received 71 votes (12.5 percent). Players need 75 percent to gain entry.
Sosa wasn't the only player who has been linked to PED use who saw his vote totals drop. Mark McGwire received 63 votes (11 percent), down from 16.9 percent last year; and Barry Bonds 198 votes (34.7 percent), down from 36.2 percent. Rafael Palmeiro received 25 votes (4.4 percent) and will not be on the ballot next year.
Sosa hit 609 home runs over 18 Major League seasons, including 13 with the Cubs, and had the numbers that should have made it easy for him to join baseball's elite. He charmed fans with his dashes to right field, mammoth home runs, and post-homer heart taps, and basked in the national spotlight in 1998, joining McGwire in a record-setting home run race.
The Cubs slugger is the only player in Major League history with three 60-homer seasons. He belted 66 in 1998, 64 in 2001 and 63 in 1999. Think about it: Babe Ruth had one 60-homer season.
Sosa also edged McGwire in the National League Most Valuable Player balloting, winning the 1998 award as he led the league in RBIs (158), runs scored (134) and total bases (416).
Sosa's career had other elements for Hall voters to consider. According to a New York Times story in June 2009, he allegedly was among 104 Major League players who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003. Sosa never was found guilty by an official MLB entity.
In 2005, he joined McGwire, Palmeiro and Jose Canseco at a hearing before Congress regarding drug use in baseball. Sosa's attorney testified on his behalf, saying the slugger never had taken illegal performance-enhancing drugs.
Sosa also was involved in a scandal in 2003 when he was ejected for using a corked bat. MLB confiscated the bat and tested 76 others, and all were found to be clean. He eventually served a six-game suspension.
After playing for the Cubs from 1992-2004, Sosa spent one season with the Orioles in 2005, missed a year, and ended his career in '07 with the Rangers, the team that had originally signed him in 1985 out of the Dominican.
In an online chat last year, Sosa remained optimistic. He believes both he and McGwire belong in the Hall of Fame.
"I think so," Sosa said last year. "I'm waiting for my time. I'm not that type of person, I don't like controversy. I'm going to wait here, but definitely time will determine everything."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.