Willie Stargell will be a lonely guy on the induction dais July 31 at baseball's Hall of Fame. For the first year since 1956, the hall's veterans committee has elected no one to join the immortals at Cooperstown, N.Y.

The veterans committee had a long, spirited discussion yesterday in Tampa, Fla., but could not agree on any candidate to be inducted with the Baseball Writers Association of America's regular choices -- which in this year's January balloting added up to just one, Stargell.

With 18 of the 20 veterans committee members present, 29 names were considered, including Phil Rizzuto, Richie Ashburn and ex-umpire Al Barlick.

Monte Irvin, a Hall of Famer on the committee, said he thought the group was "wasting time to meet and not elect anyone. With all those deserving people, someone should have been elected."

"There were some close calls, some candidates approached the necessary 14 votes," Hall of Fame President Ed Stack said. "In the future, we're going to take a look at the voting process." . . .

Pitcher John Candelaria of the New York Yankees says the first of his two drunk driving arrests last year was set up by a phone call to police by a then-teammate on the California Angels, pitcher Don Sutton.

Candelaria told the Los Angeles Times that Sutton "later told me it was out of concern for my well-being, but I think he acted out of self-preservation. He was pitching terrible at the time, seemed on the brink of release and was looking for a way to get me out of the rotation."

Sutton, now with the Los Angeles Dodgers, was contacted for comment on Candelaria's statements, but said only, "I don't want to explain it. I don't want to deal with any of that . . ."

Catcher Carlton Fisk will remain with the Chicago White Sox. Talks aimed at making him a Kansas City Royal broke off before the midnight deadline.

Fisk, 40, and six other major leaguers had won free agency via arbitrator Thomas Roberts' ruling in the owners collusion case, giving them the right to bargain through March 1 with any team.

Only one of the seven players changed teams, Kirk Gibson leaving Detroit last month for the Dodgers. Fellow Tiger Tom Brookens on Monday signed an extension with Detroit. The others who won't move are Donnie Moore and Butch Wynegar, Angels; Joe Niekro, Twins, and Juan Beniquez, Blue Jays.

Fisk reportedly sought a $1.2 million annual salary and a two-year contract; the Royals bid $800,000 for one year. Now, he'll earn the $700,000 in the White Sox contract he accepted before being freed.