A Braves New Day in Cooperstown
This has not happened since 1996 that this large an induction class (6 members) consisting of great former Baseball heroes of the clay and grass get their names forever struck in bronze and will hear their stores and accolades echoed upon the summer air in Cooperstown on July 27, 3014. Even more amazing is the fact every inductee is currently drawing breathe and would make this the largest living class induction since 1941.
I think I can safely predict that on that great summer day in Cooperstown, New York this baseball hamlet might hold a 24 hour distinction of being dubbed ATL-North. It is amazing that Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa, Joe Torres (played in Atlanta) and Frank Thomas will forever be aside the bronzed likenesses of such baseball icons as Ruth, Gehrig, Mantle as well as newer members Ripken, Boggs and Brett. 571 voters cast their votes for the induction class.
For the record, Maddux topped the list with 97.2% followed in order by Glavine (91.9), and Thomas (83.7%). Interesting enough, if Craig Biggio had been placed on 2 more ballots he would had beaten the requirement of at least 75 percent and made this the largest first year player ballot since 1955.
Biggio’s 74.8 percent tally might make him a heavy favorite for 2015 induction, but as we have seen in this year’s results, not until they are cast can the bronze plaque design begin. Lest we forget such dominating past baseball names like Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez will be newbies on next year’s Hall of Fame ballot and some would predict early favorites to be inducted next January.
One of the biggest question that was being pondered and debated before the official announcement was if Maddux could top Tom Seaver’s historic Hall of Fame induction percentage mark of You can bet more than a few comments and profanity-laced communications will be directed at the 16 BBWAA voters who decided to not to name Maddux on their ballot sealing his demise of not gaining the most percentage point ever for Hall of Fame induction. That will be a small side story told cross the country today, but one we all hoped might happen just for the sake anointing a new standard for voting excellence. But with 3 Braves caps heading into the Hall of Fame corridors, the South at least for today has risen high and can thump its chest out proud once again.
It is simply amazing that Braves icons pitchers Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and their always positive Manager Bobby Cox will share that grand day all receiving yellow jackets, bronze plaques. The Atlanta duo was expected to join Cox on the stage in 2014, but not until their names were bellowed loud and proud could the ATL faithful begin to search venues and hovels for their pilgrimage to Cooperstown
Joining these 3 Braves into induction in his first year of eligibility will be the “Big Hurt” Frank Thomas who not only showed the grace of hitting for average, but could punish any pitch with a swing that was the envy of so many other MLB masters. Thomas who lives in Las Vegas, Nevada was one of those guys you could bet with certainty even before the New Year began would be “bronzed”. Thomas played the game with integrity, honor and I do not think even a whisper ever was heard about him abusing PEDs or altering the scope of the game in any way. That in itself is a true testament of why Thomas deserves his plaque in an era where voices carried untruths and soured even the best of honest intentions within the game.
Even more amazing is Thomas’s selection might have opened wide the further discussions on a Designated Hitter getting the call for the Hall of Fame. Thomas did not play the DH spot all his career as such Hall hopefuls as Edgar Martinez. But what Thomas’s selection has grooved is the ideal that being a DH will not in the future possibly dismiss you from Hall consideration or have your stats discounted because of your spot on the lineup card, but not on the field. This could speak to many within the game finally giving credo to the DH evolution of the game and possibly we could see someone like Martinez garner more future Hall consideration and votes as well as open the Hall of Fame doors wider for future eligible Hall of Fame candidates like current Boston DH David Ortiz to becoming a more acceptable chance at garnering a Hall selection after he hangs up his well-used spikes.
Today’s Hall of Fame announcements did have a darker side as some players saw their chances become bleaker and darken with another year passed and no movement up the proverbial hill in voting percentages. The biggest name to see a slide due to his last year of eligibility on this ballot was former Tiger pitcher “Black” Jack Morris who now will have to go the Expansion Era committee route to gain induction after only garnering 61.5 percent of the vote. Morris also received 6.2 percent less support this year than in 2013.
Amazingly the only 2 players to garner more voting percentage point this year in their second year of eligibility were Biggio (6.2%) and Mike Piazza saw his own increase in his voting numbers to 62.2 percent, a 4.2 % increase over last year’s ballot. 4 players saw double digit decreases in their voting percentages as former closer Lee Smith garnered 17.9 % less votes this year. The other 3 losing ground towards the Hall summer stage were Alan Trammell (12.8%), Larry Walker (11.4%) and Edgar Martinez (10.7%).
Names you will not see on the 2015 ballot based on low percentages or no votes cast besides Morris will be: Rafael Palmero (4.4%), Moises Alou (1.1%), Hideo Nomo (1.1%), Luis Gonzalez (0.9%), Eric Gagne (0.4%), J T Snow (0.4%), Armando Benitez (0.2%), Jacque Jones (0.2%), Kenny Rogers (0.2%). The following names did not garner a single vote and will also be excluded from consideration for the Hall of Fame next winter. They are: Sean Casey, Ray Durham, Todd Jones, Paul Lo Duca, Richie Sexon and Mike Timlin.
I want to again congratulate Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas and the Veteran’s Committee inductees Bobby Cox, Tony LaRussa and Joe Torre into the Cooperstown Hall and salute the BBWAA for their insight and votes in completing and enshrining each of these great men into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
With the names of those selected to the Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2014 is now official and complete it is time to focus upon another long awaited moment……Pitchers and Catchers report in 37 DAYS!!!!!