Reflecting on the Hall of Fame inductions, the class of 2014 is certainly well deserving of the honors. After no eligible candidates received enough votes last year, three incoming members will be enshrined this season. In addition to managers Joe Torre, Bobby Cox, and Tony La Russa already named, Cooperstown will welcome pitchers Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and slugger Frank Thomas to the fraternity. All three players have special ties to Chicago baseball.
Playing in Chicago for 16 seasons, Frank Thomas was one of the best hitters of his era, and the Chicago White Sox recognized that by retiring his number 35 back in 2010. Thomas gets the call to the hall as the first predominate designated hitter. Debuting back in 1990, the "Big Hurt" never played in a World Series, but he still managed to have an excellent career. Thomas finished with a lifetime batting average over .300 and is a member of the 500 home run club. Being able to watch him play everyday in Chicago, Thomas was one of the most popular players in the city. He went about his business as a professional baseball player the right way both on and off the field.
Thomas was a leader on the field, and a great ambassador off the field even now after his playing days. While he did play some first base early in his career, Thomas became the standard for designated hitters. He is a five-time All-Star, four-time Silver Slugger and two-time MVP. Thomas has never been one of the those players linked to PEDs, and that is a testament to the player and the man. Thomas is currently tied for 18th on the all-time home run list with 521 long balls. He also tallied over 2,400 hits and 1,700 RBIs.
While Tom Glavine will be inducted into the Hall of Fame as a member of the Atlanta Braves, it was also announced that Greg Maddux will have no team affiliation on his cap, but Chicago will also be a special place for them as well. For Maddux it is easy; he was drafted by the Cubs in 1984 and had two successful stints in Chicago. He won his first Cy Young award as a Cub before going to Atlanta. During his return, he won his 300th game in a Cub uniform as well as joining the 3,000 strikeout club. His number 31 is also retired at Wrigley Field alongside another great pitcher in team history, Fergie Jenkins.
Glavine's tie to Chicago is much smaller but noteworthy as well. In 2007, as a member of the New York Mets, Glavine won his 300th game at Wrigley Field against the Cubs on a memorable Sunday night. Glavine is one of six left-hand pitchers in the 300-win club.
Both Glavine and Maddux were two of the best pitchers in the game during their prime. All of the wins, awards and accolades prove that during their time they were true masters of their craft. Maddux won 18 Gold Glove Awards, four Cy Young Awards, and had his number retired twice. Glavine also took home two Cy Young Awards, four Silver Slugger Awards and has his number retired by the Braves alongside Maddux.
For young pitchers growing up in the 1990s, Glavine and Maddux were icons. They each were excellent in-game pitchers and bona fide geniuses. In this era of stats and getting caught up in pitchers lighting up the radar gun, Maddux and Glavine did not do that. Neither were guys who threw 95 plus and just reared back and fired; they were guys who mastered the old adage of location, location, location. As a pitcher who did grow up during the 1990s, it is a great to see Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux officially become Hall of Famers along side Thomas. Congratulations Class of 2014.