Three Braves in Hall of Fame
AP Sports Writer
ATLANTA -- There will be an Atlanta Braves reunion this summer.
It will be held in Cooperstown.
Longtime Braves stalwarts Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine were elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame on Wednesday, joining their manager for all those years, Bobby Cox, who was selected last month by the expansion-era committee. Slugger Frank Thomas, a Georgia native, also was chosen for induction.
Maddux made it by an overwhelming margin, receiving 97.2 percent of the votes from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. He won 355 games, four Cy Young Awards and a record 18 Gold Gloves.
Glavine, who pitched 10 years with Maddux in the Braves’ stellar rotation, was selected by nearly 92 percent of the voters. He had 305 wins and two Cy Youngs.
The induction ceremony is July 27.
"It really would’ve been disappointing not to have the opportunity to go in with Bobby and Greg," Glavine said. "If there’s anything that would’ve killed me, so to speak, about not getting that phone call today, that would’ve been it. It’s such a rare opportunity to go into the Hall of Fame. It’s even rarer to have a teammate and your manager go in at the same time."
Maddux and Glavine both said they learned a lot from each other during their decade together, teaming with John Smoltz much of that time in one of baseball’s greatest rotations. Maddux joined the Braves as a free agent in 1993, and the duo pitched together until Glavine signed with the rival New York Mets after the 2002 season.
Smoltz will be eligible for the Hall of Fame next year.
"Glav taught me that you don’t have to be 100 percent to pitch," Maddux told MLB Network. "He showed me, which is more important than telling me."
Glavine picked up plenty of tips from Maddux, as well.
"He made me want to work harder to keep up with him," Glavine said during a news conference at Turner Field. "Greg’s greatest influence on me was how he would go out there ... and not only do what he wanted to do, but pay attention to what the hitters were telling him. That never occurred to me until I talked with Greg Maddux. My approach was, ‘Here’s my game plan and I’m going to go do it.’ He would watch the hitters -- how they took a pitch, how they fouled off a pitch, how they swung and missed a pitch. That was all valuable information he processed."
Maddux and Glavine never had overpowering stuff, relying on pinpoint control, changing speeds and getting a late break on their pitches to keep hitters off balance. Glavine said the key for him was perfecting a changeup in 1991 -- the year the Braves went from worst to first, launching an unprecedented run of 14 straight division titles. It was also the first of five 20-win seasons he would have in his career.
The only thing missing from their resumes: a bunch of World Series championships.
But Glavine was on the mound the night the Braves won what remains the city of Atlanta’s only major sports title. The left-hander pitched one-hit ball over eight innings to beat Cleveland 1-0 in Game 6 of the 1995 World Series.
"He pitched the most important and greatest game ever pitched by a Braves starter," said former general manager John Schuerholz, now the team’s president.
Maddux won four straight NL Cy Young Awards from 1992-95 -- Randy Johnson is the only other pitcher to capture four in a row -- and produced two of the greatest years ever at the end of that run.
During the strike-shortened 1994 season, Maddux went 16-6 with a career-best 1.56 ERA, which is even more impressive compared to the cumulative NL ERA of 4.21 (the 2.65 differential was the highest ever recorded). The following year he went 19-2 with a 1.63 ERA for the World Series champions, even while hitters continued to put up inflated offensive stats (the NL had a 4.18 cumulative ERA) during the Steroids Era.
Laid back and known for his sophomoric humor in the clubhouse, Maddux was a fierce competitor who wasn’t above shouting obscenities when a pitch didn’t go where he wanted. But the nickname "Mad Dog" didn’t really fit. He was more like an artist, aware that a subtle stroke could wind up being the mark of genius.
"If you do everything mechanically correct," he said Wednesday, "it’s impossible for the ball to not go where you want it to go."
Now, he and his buddy are going to the Hall of Fame.
Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963
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