When it comes to an individual honor, getting elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York, is the ultimate.
This past weekend, pitchers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, first baseman/designated hitter Frank Thomas, managers Tony La Russa, Bobby Cox and Joe Torre, along with The New Yorker’s Roger Angell, were enshrined as approximately 48,000 took in the ceremony.
Without throwing in the mid-90’s, Maddux carved out two 20-win seasons and captured four straight Cy Young trophies beginning in 1992.
Maddux, a soft-spoken right-hander who finished with 355 wins, was the ace during much of the unprecedented run of 14 consecutive divisional titles by the Atlanta Braves.
“It’s obviously the biggest honor you can give a ball player,’’ said Maddux, who went 194-88 with Atlanta, and also hurled for the Chicago Cubs, Dodgers and San Diego Padres. “To put me in Cooperstown with all my childhood heroes, it’s sort of hard to believe I’m standing here today. I never gave a thought to the Hall of Fame as I was going through my career. My goal as a baseball player was very simple. All I wanted to do was try and get better for the next start. And to think it all ended up here is pretty cool.”
Glavine, a slight left-hander who picked up five 20-game seasons with Atlanta, finished 305-203, and scooped up two Cy Young awards after going 20-11 in 1991 and 20-6 in 1998.
It was Glavine on the mound in Game 6 of the 1995 World Series when Atlanta took home its only championship after holding the Cleveland Indians to one hit over eight innings.
“It’s hard to imagine a day like this would get any better,’’ said Glavine, who had a record of 244-147 with the Braves. “But for me, it does. I’m honored to go into the Baseball Hall of Fame with such a great group of men. All you guys represent what is great about the game of baseball. I’m humbled to be a part of this class.”
Thomas, a two-time Most Valuable Player in 1993 and 1994, played baseball and was a tight end at Auburn, but opted for the diamond where he suited up for the Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics and Toronto Blue Jays.
“I’m speechless. Thanks for having me in your club,’’ said Thomas, who socked 521 home runs with 1,704 runs batted in, had a .301 batting average, and was emotional when talking about his late father. “Frank Sr., I know you’re watching. Without you, I know 100 percent I wouldn’t be here in Cooperstown today. You always preached to me. You can be someone special if you put your mind to it. I took that to heart, Pop.”
La Russa is third all-time with 2,728 victories for the White Sox, Athletics and St. Louis Cardinals and led the Red Birds to two World Series titles and the A’s one.
Cox managed the Blue Jays and Braves, is fourth with 2,504 wins and guided Atlanta to one Series title, while Torre skippered the New York Mets, St. Louis, New York Yankees and Dodgers, is fifth with 2,326 triumphs and helped the Yankees to four World Series banners.
It was a grand day for all.
Rick Assad has been a sportswriter for more than two decades. He has a political science degree from UCLA, a journalism degree from CSUN, is a staff writer for diamondboxing.com, and is a columnist for socalboxing.wordpress.com. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.