* They will doing the tom-a-hawk chop in Cooperstown this summer: Atlanta Braaves RHP Greg Maddux and LHP Tom Glavine, shown here flanking Chicago White Sox DH Frank Thomas will join Atlanta manager Bobby Cox, as well as managers Joe Torre and Tony La Russa in induction ceremonies July 27. ... Sign up for CBN Newsletter
By Bob Elliott
Early in the 2002 season on a May trip into Montreal a writer tried to get Atlanta Braves’ Bobby Cox to answer a question.
Who was better?
Greg Maddux or Tom Glavine?
Maddux had four Cy Young awards and 257 career wins.
Glavine had two Cy Youngs and 224 wins.
Both seemed headed for 300 victories and Cooperstown.
It might have been easier to try to hang the Olympic Stadium roof with a used nail, than to get the Atlanta manager to pick one over the other.
It was Maddux AND Glavine.
It was Glavine AND Maddux.
“They’re both going to win 300, they’re both Hall of Famers,” Cox said back then.
Rather than separating one from the other as questions continued, Cox eventually brought the rest of his rotation -- Kevin Millwood, Damian Moss and Jason Marquis -- into the conversation answering who his best starter was.
Cox still won’t have to pick July 27. He can still mention Maddux and Glavine in the same breath.
This time it will be from the podium during Hall of Fame ceremonies as Maddux and Glavine will be inducted along with Cox.
Former Chicago White Sox slugger Frank Thomas, Maddux and Glavine were elected to Cooperstown, N.Y. by senior voting members of the Baseball Writers Association of America on Wednesday. Cox was elected in December along with managers Joe Torre and Tony La Russa by a 16-member expansion era committee making for a six-man induction, in this the 75th anniversary of the Hall of Fame.
After zero players were elected last January the three first timers were the most elected since 1999 (Nolan Ryan, George Brett and Robin Yount). Maddux was named on 97.2% of the 555 ballots, followed by Glavine (91.9) and Thomas (83.7).
Craig Biggio missed by two votes (74.8% shy of the required 75%) should be a lock next January. But the likes of Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Carlos Delgado make their debut on the ballot. The back log is why the BBWAA formed a committee last month to decide if should ask the Hall of Fame to expand the ballot to more than 10 names.
Former Braves president Stan Kasten called Maddux Clark Kent. Felipe Alou used to call him the professor.
And not because he looked like he had recently graduated from teacher’s college with peach-fuzz cheeks on took the mound.
“Look at him in their dugout, wearing glasses,” Alou said. “He never wears them on the mound. He wears them when he comes out to watch us take batting practice and on days he doesn’t pitch. He’s always studying.”
If Maddux’s fastball was on the 401 it would get honked at.
He changed speeds, hit spots, studied hitters.
The Braves tell of their hitters meeting before facing the New York Yankees in the 1996 World Series. The scouting report described how to pitch Bernie Williams. Maddux disagreed. He’d seen Williams hit the same pitch in the same location in a TV game. Maddux held him hitless.
In the visiting clubhouse in Montreal there used to be a glass bowl of jelly beans. After watching Gerald Williams come in every day and pick out the red ones, Maddux arrived early, dumped the bowl and took out all the red ones.
Then he sat in a far corner and watched the outfielder arrive and searched for the red ones.
Last year at a Hall of Fame reception following Saint Shirley Cheek’s speech and accepting the Ford C. Frick award presented to her late husband Tom Cheek we spotted Atlanta vice president Brad Hainje.
“What are you doing here?” I asked.
“I thought maybe I’d better check this place out ... just in case,” Hainje said.
Hainje proved to be a Hall of Fame scout as Cooperstown will be jammed with Braves -- Cox, Glavine and Maddux on stage -- and thousands in the audience.
Who was better?
They’re both first time Hall of Famers, although knowing Maddux’s sense of humour he will mention how he had more votes than Glavine.
* * *
OK class, let’s work on our division.
What is 427 divided by 571?
“That comes out to .7478%, so rounded off ... that would be 75%.”
Former Houston Astros second baseman Craig Biggio was named on 427 of 571 ballots by voting members of the Baseball Writers Association on Wednesday.
There is no rounding off to get into Cooperstown as we learned with former Nellie Fox of the Chicago White Sox, also a second baseman.
Like Fox, Biggio fell two votes short. Fox was elected by the veteran’s committee in 1997 -- after he died. Astro backers hope Biggio makes up the two needed votes next January.
And the same happened with Pie Traynor when he received 73.9% of the vote in 1947. The next year he was elected with 76.9% of the vote.
Biggio had 3,060 career hits in his 20-year career which used to mean an automatic ticket, but fell short in 2013 his first year on the ballot and by the width of a eye lash -- or the lack of rounding off -- leaves him on the ballot for next year.
Excelling at second base, in the outfield and behind the plate, Biggio was elected to four all-star games. A reason people don’t vote for him is only two top five-place finishes in MVP voting. He was fourth in 1997 and fifth in 1998.
Biggio’s teammate Jeff Bagwell was at 54.3$, dropping 5.3%.
Meanwhile Canadian Larry Walker fell from 21.6% to 10.2% in his fourth year on the ballot.
Bagwell five times as good as Walker?
* * *
The MLB Network made its debut in Canada on Wednesday on Rogers Sportsnet 415.
And the first words we heard was a guy describing Jack Morris as “an average pitcher.”
Then, the day became worse for Morris.
The former right-hander was named on only 61.5% of ballots by voting members of the Baseball Writers Association of America to fall short in his 15th and final year of eligibility. A year ago he had 67.7% of the vote but was hurt with the arrival of talented newcomers.
Now, Morris will have to wait to see if he is on the 2016 expansion era ballot and then the result of that vote. The Jays await to see if Morris is returning this season to the broadcast booth. With the Jays in 1992-93 Morris was 28-18, with a 4.87 ERA in 61 starts pitching 393 1/3 innings
Morris finished third in American League Cy Young award voting both in 1981 (behind Rollie Fingers) and 1983 (LaMarr Hoyt) with the Detroit Tigers. He was fourth in voting in 1991 (Rogers Clemens) with the Minnesota Twins, as well as fifth in 1986 (Clemens) and 1992 (Dennis Eckersley) with the Blue Jays.
He finished seventh in 1984 (Willie Hernandez) and ninth 1987 (Clemens) when he was pitching into the eighth inning regularly for manager Sparky Anderson.
He had 175 complete games with 254 wins, but his ERA of 3.90 did not impress voters.
* * *
Career: 355-227 won-loss record, (.610 winning percentage), 3.16 ERA, eighth all-time in wins, 5008 1/3 innings in 23 seasons.
Awards: Four Cy Young awards, 18 Gold Gloves, eight time all-star.
Teams: Braves 11 years, Cubs 10 years, Dodgers two years, Padres two years.
He said: “Glavine showed me you don’t have to be 100% to pitch.”
Career: 305-203 (.600), 3.54, fourth most wins amongst lefties, 4413 1/3 innings in 22 seasons.
Awards: Two Cy Young awards, 10-time all-star.
Teams: Braves 17 years, Mets five years.
He said: “To have an opportunity to go in with guys like Greg and Bobby Cox it’s like that line about icing on the cake.”
Cap: White Sox
Career: .301 average, .419 on-base mark, slugged .555, .974 OPS, 521 homers, 1,704 RBIs.
Awards: Two-time MVP, five-time all-star, one batting title.
Teams: White Sox 16 seasons, A’s two years, Blue Jays two years (.266, 29, homer, 106 RBIs in 171) games.
He said: “Kids dream about playing pro sports, but the Hall of Fame? I’ll tell you now if I had made it the first three years, it wouldn’t have mattered, but to get in on the first time?”