NEW YORK —
It was the eighth time the BBWAA failed to elect any players. There were four fewer votes than last year and five members submitted blank ballots.
"It's a tough period for evaluation, that's what this chalks up to," Hall President Jeff Idelson said. "Honestly, I think that any group you put this to would have the same issues. ... There's always going to be discussion and concern about players who didn't get in, but at the end of the day it's a process and again, a snapshot in time isn't one year, it's 15 with this exercise."
Bonds, baseball's only seven-time Most Valuable Player, hit 762 home runs, including a record 73 in 2001.
"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 and ninth in wins.
"To those who did take the time to look at the facts," Clemens said, "we very much appreciate it."
Since 1961, the only years the writers didn't elect a candidate were 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 were chosen the following years when they achieved the 75 percent necessary for election.
The other BBWAA elections without a winner were in 1945, 1946, 1950, 1958 and 1960.
"Next year, I think you'll have a rather large class and this year, for whatever reasons, you had a couple of guys come really close," Commissioner Bud Selig said at the owners' meetings in Paradise Valley, Ariz. "This is not to be voted to make sure that somebody gets in every year. It's to be voted on to make sure that they're deserving. I respect the writers as well as the Hall itself. This idea that this somehow diminishes the Hall of baseball is just ridiculous in my opinion."