NEW YORK (AP) — Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa are set to show up on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time, and fans will soon find out whether drug allegations block the former stars from reaching baseball's shrine.
The 2013 ballot will be announced Wednesday.
Craig Biggio, Mike Piazza and Curt Schilling are certain to be among the other first-time eligibles. Jack Morris, Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines are the top holdover candidates.
Longtime members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America will vote through next month. The much-awaited results will be announced Jan. 9, with players needing to be listed on 75 percent of the ballots to gain induction.
The upcoming election is certain to fuel the most polarizing Hall debate since career hits leader Pete Rose's betting problems put him on baseball's permanently ineligible list, barring him from the BBWAA ballot.
Bonds, Clemens and Sosa each posted some of the biggest numbers in the game's history, but all were tainted by accusations that they used performance-enhancing drugs.
Bonds is baseball's all-time home runs leader with 762 and won a record seven MVP awards. Clemens ranks ninth in career wins with 354 and took home a record seven Cy Young Awards. Sosa is eighth on the home run chart with 609.
Fans, players and Hall of Fame members have all chimed in about whether stars who supposedly juiced up during the Steroids Era should make it to Cooperstown.
Many of those opposed say drug cheats should never be afforded baseball's highest individual honors. Others on the opposite side claim the use of performance-enhancing drugs was pervasive in the 1980s and 1990s, and shouldn't disqualify candidates.
If recent voting for the Hall is any indication, the odds are solidly stacked against Bonds, Clemens and Sosa.
Mark McGwire is 10th on the career home run list with 583, but has never received even 24 percent in his six tries. Big Mac has admitted using steroids and human growth hormone.
Rafael Palmeiro is among only four players with 500 homers and 3,000 hits, yet has gotten a high of 12.6 percent in his two years on the ballot. Palmeiro drew a 10-day suspension in 2005 after a positive test for performance-enhancing drugs, and said the result was due to a vitamin vial given to him by teammate Miguel Tejada.