SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants legend Willie McCovey reiterated his support for Barry Bonds' Hall of Fame candidacy while taking issue with Joe Morgan's letter to voters regarding "known steroid users."Morgan's letter, released on Hall of Fame stationery in late November, was sent to tenured members of the Baseball Writers' Association
SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants legend Willie McCovey reiterated his support for Barry Bonds' Hall of Fame candidacy while taking issue with Joe Morgan's letter to voters regarding "known steroid users."
Morgan's letter, released on Hall of Fame stationery in late November, was sent to tenured members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America who received a Hall of Fame ballot. Nowhere in the letter was Bonds or any of his contemporaries mentioned by name.
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Morgan, a 1990 first-ballot Hall of Fame inductee who is vice chairman of the Hall's board of directors, emphasized the "sanctity" of being enshrined at Cooperstown. He added that existing Hall of Famers have expressed concern about "known steroid users" gaining election to the Hall.
Asked whether he believed that Bonds, baseball's all-time home run leader, should be voted into the Hall, McCovey replied, "I hope so."
Speaking to a pair of San Francisco Bay Area reporters in advance of his 80th birthday on Jan. 10, McCovey added, "That letter Morgan wrote sure is not going to help [Bonds]. But I'm glad to hear a lot of the writers say that letter is not going to influence their vote because I know a lot of it was going to be aimed at him. I wasn't too happy about it. You're naïve if you don't think if it was aimed at Barry."
McCovey pointed out that Bonds never tested positive for performance-enhancing drug use, which helped spark McCovey's discussion with Morgan on the topic.
"Yeah, I went back and forth with him on it," said McCovey, a first-ballot Hall of Fame inductee in 1986. "I told him I don't agree with it."
Morgan's letter cited an unspecified number of Hall of Famers who have promised not to attend the annual induction ceremonies at Cooperstown if players linked to performance-enhancing drugs are enshrined.
"Joe and I are really close. He's one of my best friends," McCovey said. "I told him how much I disagree with him. I told him I won't let that hurt our friendship. But don't include me [with] the ones who are not going to show up if they go in. Don't include me in that."
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Asked whether Morgan expressed any regrets about writing the letter, McCovey replied, "I don't know. I don't really care."
Bonds' recent Hall of Fame vote totals have risen steadily, from 36.8 percent in 2015 to 44.3 percent in '16 and up to 53.8 in '17. A 75 percent figure is required for induction. Voters' ballots must be postmarked by Sunday. Results will be announced on Jan. 24.
"I just think it's a sin he's not in there," McCovey said. "If anybody deserved to be in the Hall of Fame, it's Barry. ... You talk to anybody who played against him at that time, they'll say he was the best hitter they ever [saw] in their lives. Those are his peers talking."
Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com sincde 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.