This year’s Hall of Fame ceremony belongs to the Braves
Former Braves manager Bobby Cox will have some familiar company on the Cooperstown stage this summer.
Two superstar pitchers of Cox’s famed "Team of the ’90s" Atlanta Braves squads, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, were voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America as part of a three-man class on Wednesday afternoon.
Former White Sox slugger Frank Thomas and managers Tony La Russa and Joe Torre will share the stage with the Atlanta legends, but it’s clear the July ceremony will belong to one organization.
With the two 300-game winners who combined for six Cy Young Awards and the 1995 World Series title becoming the first teammates since 1974 — Yankees legends Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford — to be voted into the Hall together, the franchise has plenty to celebrate. Maddux and Glavine become just the second pair of pitchers to be elected together their first year on the ballot, joining Walter Johnson and Christy Mathewson, members of the inaugural 1936 Hall of Fame class.
"It’s gonna take me a while to get used to (seeing Hall of Famer before my name), no question about it. But after a long career, it’s nice to have that added to it," Glavine said. "Being around guys like John (Smoltz) and Greg and so many other guys that were here over the years — you know, people always talk about that competition that went on with the pitching staff, and we did, we had it in a lot of different things. But it was always in a fun way and always in a respectful way, it was always in a way that we drove each other to be better. … You name it, we all drove each other to get better in every facet of the game."
Maddux was an overwhelming selection (though not unanimous), earning 97.2 percent of the vote — the eighth highest mark behind the likes of Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan and Hank Aaron. Maddux, a 6-foot master of control, won 355 games in his 23-year career with the Braves, Cubs, Dodgers and Padres, taking home four consecutive Cy Young Awards from 1992 to 1995 and finishing top-five in the voting on five other occasions. Dubbed as one of the best defensive pitchers in history, he won a record 18 Gold Gloves in his career.
As for his sabermetric credentials, Maddux is truly one of the greats. He ranks fourth in all-time wins above replacement among pitchers (114.3), behind only Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens and Cy Young, according to FanGraphs.
Maddux’s lefty teammate Glavine, who won the ’95 World Series MVP, was a little closer to the debate side of things but he was never in danger of missing out. He earned 91.9 percent of the vote. Thomas earned 83.7 percent.
The 6-foot southpaw Glavine won 305 games — only 22 other pitchers outside of Maddux and Glavine reached the 300-win plateau — and two Cy Youngs (1991, 1998). A 10-time All-Star, Glavine ranks 41st all time in WAR among pitchers.
"It was awesome," said former Braves teammate John Smoltz, who was part of MLB Network’s live coverage of the announcement. "(Talking) to them live (about the results) was pretty cool to say the least."
Following a year in which not a single player was voted into Cooperstown — Houston’s Craig Biggio came closest, garnering 74.8 percent — the writers doubled down with the Hall of Fame’s largest class since 1999 (George Brett, Nolan Ryan, Robin Yount).
Players need at least 75 percent of the vote to be elected.
"It speaks volumes as to the unprecedented number of division championships the Braves were able to win in the National League," said FOX Sports South Braves play-by-play analyst Chip Caray. "It seems somewhat fitting that Bobby Cox, who oversaw the resuscitation and the rebuilding of the Braves through pitching, goes in with two 300-game winners in Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine."