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The Journal Gazette

Friday, April 05, 2013 6:10 pm

Schmidt, Brett undecided on attending HOF ceremony

By DAN GELSTONAP Sports Writer

Hall of Fame third basemen George Brett and Mike Schmidt are both undecided if they'll attend this summer's induction ceremonies at Cooperstown.

No one was elected to the Hall of Fame this year. For only the second time in four decades, baseball writers didn't give any player the 75 percent required for induction. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa were among the Steriod Era stars shut out .

Houston Astros second baseman Craig Biggio, 20th on the career list with 3,060 hits, and former star catcher Mike Piazza also failed to receive enough votes to earn induction

Schmidt, who hit 548 career home runs with the Philadelphia Phillies, expected Biggio and Piazza to eventually join him in Cooperstown.

"I believe they'll both get in the Hall of Fame in the next year or year after," Schmidt said. "For sure, Biggio. They've got a little bit of a hill to climb next year with all the attention that's going to go to the other guys that'll be locks for the first ballot."

Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, both 300-game winners, will be on the ballot for the first time.

"I'm just glad I don't have a vote," Schmidt said.

Brett, who supported Biggio, rolled off the 500-homer, 3,000-hit, 300-win milestones that used to mean automatic entry to Cooperstown.

"I think it's going to be harder and harder for these guys to get in nowadays because of the scandal that's followed baseball the last 10, 15 years," Brett said.

The ceremonies are July 28 and only pioneering umpire Hank O'Day, former Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert and 19th-century star Deacon White are entering the Hall of Fame. Brett, who hit 317 homers over a 21-year career with the Kansas City Royals, joked his wife would decide if he'd attend that weekend.

Schmidt, Brett and former "Saturday Night Live" performer Joe Piscopo all threw out ceremonial first pitches before the Royals played the Phillies on Friday in Philadelphia's home opener.

The Phillies are trying to bounce back from tough 2012 when they missed the playoffs for the first time since 2006. They won five straight NL East titles, the 2008 World Series and 2009 NL championship over that span.

"It was a little different environment when we played back in the day," Schmidt said. "Vet Stadium was a tougher environment to play in. I think the team now and the environment now has changed somewhat, mostly because, since they've come to this stadium, they've annually been a winning team. There's not been a lot to boo about here at Citizens Bank Park over the years."

Schmidt and Brett were together in a Philadelphia ballpark for the first time since the 1980 World Series.

Last time Schmidt and Brett were together in a ballpark in Philadelphia, they were joined by 65,000 fans and riot police riding horses.

It was Game 6 of the 1980 World Series at old Veterans Stadium. Tug McGraw threw strike three past Willie Wilson, leaped off the mound and waited for Schmidt to run in from third base to jump in his arms and kick off a wild celebration.

The Phillies beat the Royals to win their first World Series in their 106th season. Brett watched from the dugout.

While Schmidt put up Hall of Fame numbers, he never was really truly embraced by the notoriously tough Philly fans. He would get booed on bad games during his prime and fans held his struggles in the 1976-78 playoffs against him until he was World Series MVP in `80.

"All of us players went through periods where we failed in clutch situations and got booed," Schmidt said. "In that regard, it's a tough town to be in. If you didn't understand the passion that the Philly sports fans have for their teams, like I do now ... I'd be a lot better at handling it."

Schmidt wasn't fully appreciated till the end of his career because he wasn't the happy-go-lucky type like McGraw or a headfirst-diver like Pete Rose. Schmidt admits he was aloof and somewhat moody.

"Big-time regrets," Schmidt said. "It's hard to put it into words. Not nearly mature enough."


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