NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The Baseball Writers’ Association of America made amends for last year’s controversial shutout on Wednesday, electing a trio of players to the Hall of Fame.
Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas gained election, with Craig Biggio falling just short and former Mets great Mike Piazza never really challenging. Writers had not elected three players in one vote since Nolan Ryan, George Brett and Robin Yount in 1999.
The trio will be inducted in Cooperstown on July 27 along with managers Bobby Cox, Joe Torre and Tony La Russa, elected last month by the expansion-era committee.
“It’s exciting for me to go in with my teammate,” Maddux said.
Maddux, who won four Cy Young Awards with the Atlanta Braves during his 23-year career, fell just short of breaking Tom Seaver’s 22-year-old record for highest percentage, receiving votes on 97.2 percent of the ballots.
Glavine, who pitched alongside Maddux in Atlanta for much of his 22-year-career, received 91.9 percent and Thomas, who hit 521 home runs in 19 major league seasons, received 83.7 percent.
Seaver set the record of 98.84 percent back in 1992, breaking Ty Cobb’s record set in 1936.
“I just have just never come across any human being, whether they’re a voter or just a fan, that doesn’t think Greg Maddux is a Hall of Famer and one of the greatest pitchers who ever pitched,” The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo said Tuesday.
Maddux, Glavine and Thomas were on the ballot for the first time. Holdovers included Biggio, who finished with 74.8 percent of the vote, two votes short of the 75 percent needed for induction. Biggio received 68 percent last year, which was only the second time in four decades the BBWAA failed to elect anyone.
Piazza, who is considered by many to be the greatest hitting catcher in the history of the game, finished with 62.2 percent of the vote, followed by Jack Morris, who was 78 votes short at 61.5 percent in his 15th and final appearance on the writers’ ballot.
Those holding out hope for former Yankees pitcher Mike Mussina and first baseman Don Mattingly were also disappointed. Mussina received 20.3 percent of the vote, and Mattingly will return for his 15th and final year on the ballot after receiving 8.2 percent.
Controversy over how to evaluate stars tainted by the Steroids Era continued to impact the vote totals of players with stellar statistics. In their second appearances on the ballot, Roger Clemens dropped from 37.6 percent to 35.4, Barry Bonds from 36.2 to 34.7 and Sammy Sosa from 12.5 to 7.2.
Appearing for the eighth time, Mark McGwire fell from 16.9 to 11.0. Rafael Palmeiro will be dropped from future ballots after falling to 25 votes and 4.4 percent — below the 5 percent threshold necessary to remain eligible for next year’s vote.
Deadspin.com announced Miami Herald columnist Dan Le Batard had turned his ballot over to the website, which allowed readers to vote on how it should be cast.
“I hate all the moralizing we do in sports in general, but I especially hate the hypocrisy in this,” Le Batard said in remarks posted by Deadspin. “‘I always like a little anarchy inside the cathedral we’ve made of sports.”
BBWAA Secretary-Treasurer Jack O’Connell declined comment.
During his more than two decades in the majors, including a dominant 11-season stretch with Atlanta, Maddux went 355-227 with a 3.16 ERA and 3,371 strikeouts. He holds one of the most impressive records in baseball history, winning at least 15 games in 17 consecutive seasons.
Maddux was an eight-time All-Star, a two-time 20-game winner, an 18-time Gold Glove winner, and was a member of the Braves’ 1995 World Series championship team.
Glavine was a five-time 20-game winner for Atlanta alongside Maddux. The crafty left-hander, who was also a 10-time All-Star, played 17 seasons with the Braves and five with the Mets, going a combined 305-203 with a 3.54 ERA.
Thomas, nicknamed “The Big Hurt’ due to his prowess at punishing the baseball, was a tremendous power hitting first baseman and designated hitter. The two-time AL MVP hit .301 with 1,704 RBIs in his near-two decades in the big leagues. He played his first 16 seasons with the Chicago White Sox.
“This has been a stressful 48 hours,” Thomas said in a statement. “This is something that I will have to sit back in the next three or four days and figure it out because you can only dream so big, as this is as big as it gets for me.”
Biggio played all 20 years of his career with the Houston Astros, amassing 3,060 hits, 1,175 RBI, 1,844 runs scored and 414 stolen bases.
In all, 571 writers who have been members of the BBWAA for 10 consecutive years at any point considered the 36-player ballot.
Next year’s ballot could be even more crowded when Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, Carlos Delgado and Gary Sheffield become eligible, five years after their retirements. The BBWAA last month formed a committee to study whether the organization should ask the Hall to change the limit of 10 players per ballot.
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