NEW YORK (AP) — Mark McGwire is getting another swing at the Hall of Fame.
The former slugger who admitted using steroids joins Bud Selig, George Steinbrenner and seven others on the Today’s Game Era ballot to be considered for election to Cooperstown in December.
The announcement was made Monday by the Baseball Hall of Fame. The ballot is part of changes to the election process announced by the Hall’s board of directors in July. It includes five players, three executives and two managers who made their biggest impact from 1988 on.
“It’s flattering. It’s fantastic. I mean, thank you,” McGwire told The Associated Press in a phone interview. “It’s very flattering to have another opportunity to possibly get into the Hall of Fame. It’s exciting.”
McGwire said he’d heard of the committee, but didn’t think his name would come up “for a long time.”
“I didn’t know it was going to be this year, considering last year was my last year on the (writers’) ballot. It’s very flattering.”
Harold Baines, Albert Belle, Will Clark, Orel Hershiser, Davey Johnson, Lou Piniella and John Schuerholz round out the class of 2017 candidates on the new ballot.
All are alive except for Steinbrenner, the bombastic and successful owner of the New York Yankees from 1973 until his death in 2010.
Selig served as baseball’s acting commissioner from September 1992 to July 1998 and then as commissioner until January 2015. He oversaw an era of immense change that included expansion, wild cards and interleague play.
It is Selig’s first appearance on a Hall of Fame ballot, and the third for Steinbrenner. He fell short on 2010 and 2013 Expansion Era ballots.
Voting is Dec. 5 during the winter meetings in Maryland. To be enshrined, candidates must receive votes on at least 75 percent of the ballots cast by the 16-member Today’s Game Era Committee.
Those voters, appointed by the Hall of Fame board, will be announced this fall.
McGwire ranks 11th on the career list with 583 home runs. Tainted by performance-enhancing drugs, however, he never came close to getting elected by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America and dropped off that ballot this year after his 10th and final chance.
“Numbers-wise, what I’ve done, I truly believe they are Hall of Fame-worthy. For what I did hitting home runs, 583, I’m the only guy in history averaging one in every 10 at-bats,” he said. “If you look at how many games and at-bats I did it in, it was a lot less than most guys in the Hall of Fame. I’m proud of that. I truly believe I was born a home run hitter.”
Yet McGwire, who spent this past season as bench coach for the San Diego Padres, never received more than 23.7 percent of the vote from the BBWAA — far short of the 75 percent required for election. He garnered 12.3 percent in his last appearance.
He was asked whether he thinks his steroids admission and subsequent apology will sway this particular committee.
“It’s obviously up to them. They’re obviously up to speed with that. The writers felt the way they did. I truly respect how they felt. I did admit to it, and you know, there’s nothing else I can say. I did what I did and I apologized for doing what I did,” McGwire said.
The Era Committee process provides an avenue for Hall of Fame consideration to managers, umpires and executives, as well as players retired for more than 15 seasons — like McGwire. Today’s Game Era was one of four Eras Committees outlined in July when the Hall detailed its latest set of election changes.
Finalists on the ballot revealed Monday were selected by the Historical Overview Committee appointed by the BBWAA, made up of 11 veteran historians.
Any candidates elected Dec. 5 would be inducted into the Hall of Fame on July 30 next year along with any players voted in by the BBWAA. Those results will be announced Jan. 18, 2017.
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