Earlier this week, Major League Baseball announced that Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas would be this year’s inductees into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Since that announcement there has been more talk about how flawed the voting system is and how controversial the results of the voting have been (Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, Jeff Bagwell), the controversial use of votes (Dan LeBatard, Ken Gurnick). There are currently a number of great players (and some not so great – Jacque Jones, Paul lo Duca, Mike Timlin) currently on the ballot, while there remains a few who only narrowly missed the cut (Craig Biggio by two votes). And there is one player who now has to hope that the Veterans Committee will one day induct him into the Hall after failing to get 75% of the vote for 15 years on the ballot (Jack Morris).
However, one thing that has seemed to have been ignored lately is the new members of the Hall and what they have accomplished. Let’s take a few minutes to look back at the careers of these three new inductees and what makes them well-deserving of their entry into Cooperstown’s hallowed Baseball Hall of Fame.
Frank Thomas, also known as “The Big Hurt”, let his bat do all the talking for him for so many years. While he played 19 seasons in the majors with the Chicago White Sox, Oakland A’s and the Toronto Blue Jays, he is certainly most remembered for the 16 seasons he was with the White Sox. In 2322 career games he had 2468 hits, 521 homeruns, 1704 RBIs and a lifetime batting average of .301. He was a five-time all-star, four-time silver slugger, two-time AL MVP, won the 1995 home run derby, had his number 35 retired in Chicago. Oh, and even though he was injured and not on the playoff roster in 2005, the White Sox honored him with a World Series ring. Thomas was pure power, and his membership in the 500 Home Run Club shows why he is known as The Big Hurt. If a pitcher made a mistake with Thomas at the plate, there was a good chance that ball was going to be hit a long way. With all of these accomplishments it is clear he is a worthy entrant as a first ballot Hall of Famer.
Tom Glavine played 22 seasons for the Atlanta Braves and New York Mets, and was one of the top pitchers of the decade in the 1990’s and undeniably the best left-hander of his time. He was also one of the reasons why the Braves were so dominant in that era as the team racked up division title after division title beginning in the 1991 season. He had a lifetime win-loss record of 305-203; his ERA was a 3.54 with 4413.1 innings pitched, 2607 strikeouts and a 1.314 WHIP. He made it to 10 All-Star games, won two NL Cy Young’s, four silver sluggers, a World Series with the Braves in 1995, won the World Series MVP that same year and had his number retired in Atlanta. He had five 20-win seasons and for a pitcher, he was a pretty good hitter. A member of the 300-win club in an era where the increased use of five-man rotations and the complex use of the bullpen, Glavine is another who is extremely well-deserving of the honor bestowed upon him this week.
Last, but certainly not least is Greg Maddux who is arguably one of the best pitchers of not just his era, but of all-time as well. He pitched for 23 years in the big leagues and played for the Chicago Cubs, Atlanta Braves, LA Dodgers and San Diego Padres. His lifetime record is 335-227 with a career ERA of 3.16, 5008.1 innings pitches, 3371 strikeouts and a 1.142 WHIP. He was an 8-time all-star, won the World Series with the Braves (and Glavine) in 1995; he won four NL Cy Young awards, had his number 31 retired by both the Cubs and Braves and he won 18, yes you are reading correctly EIGHTEEN, gold glove awards. Maddux had 16-straight seasons where he won fifteen or more games from 1989-2004. I was lucky enough to see him pitch in 2004 for the Cubs, and while he only struck out two batters that game, he was very dominant. It was spectacular to watch his amazing control, and an ability to change speeds that kept hitters off-balance all game long. Maddux was obviously a first-ballot Hall of Famer, and many thought he could become the first unanimous selection ever. While this didn’t happen, it wouldn’t have been unmerited if it did happen. He simply is one of the best pitchers the game has ever seen.
Amidst all the controversy and garbage that the Baseball Hall of Fame and the voters are going through, we should count ourselves fortunate that we get to see these three great ball players get inducted into the Hall-of-Fame, each of whom was amongst the greatest players of our time.
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Main Photo: Tom Pidgeon