The National Baseball Hall of Fame welcomed three new legends into its prestigious confines on Wednesday, as Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and Frank Thomas were elected by select eligible writers of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America in their first year of eligibility on the ballot. Unlike recent years, the election margin for these three legends was rather impressive.
Maddux, a four-time Cy Young winner who registered 355 wins in his illustrious career, saw his name written on 555 of the 571 total voters’ ballots, or 97.2 percent of ballots cast, which sits seventh all-time (Tom Seaver’s 98.84 percent in 1992 is currently the highest percentage to date).
Glavine, a two-time Cy Young winner who garnered 305 career wins, saw his name appear on 91.9 percent of the ballots, as 525 voters felt that the long-time Atlanta Braves southpaw was deserving of a first-year nod to the Hall.
Frank Thomas in Hall of Fame
And rounding out the impressive triumvirate of legends is former Auburn Tigers and longtime Chicago White Sox slugger, Frank Thomas. Thomas saw his name appear on 83.7 percent of the ballots, as 478 voters made it be known that the “Big Hurt” was a definitive first-ballot hall of famer.
Before making a name for himself on the diamond, Thomas was originally brought to Auburn University on a football scholarship, but was quickly drawn to baseball his freshman year. His raw skills and potential were quickly realized throughout his freshman season as he led the team in RBI and posted an impressive .359 batting average.
A pair of injuries early in the 1987 football season proved critical to his potential career as a professional football player, to which he was able to focus on baseball as his primary sport going forward.
Although he was cut from the final team that would have competed for Team USA in the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, Thomas would go on to obliterate college baseball. In his career at Auburn, Thomas slugged a school record 49 home runs, a powerful feat that would help earn him SEC MVP honors his senior year and a seventh overall selection in the 1989 MLB First-Year Player Draft by the Chicago White Sox.
In 19 seasons at the major league level, Thomas was one of the most feared and dominant hitters of his generation. He captured back-to-back AL MVP awards in 1993 and 1994, has earned four Silver Sluggers and five All-Star selections, and finished his career with 521 home runs and a .301 batting average, one of just 10 players (amongst the likes of Hank Aaron, Jimmie Foxx, Babe Ruth, and Ted Williams) to do so in the history of the game.
Thomas is also the only player in the history of the game to put up seven straight seasons of 20 HR/.300 AVG/100 RBI/100 BB, which he completed between 1991 and 1997, a span that saw him lead the league in walks, OBP, and OPS four times, not to mention slug an impressive 250 homers and drive in 823 runs while maintaining a .330 batting average to boot.
Numbers aside, just witnessing the “Big Hurt” play the game of baseball first hand provides enough argument for him to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame alongside some of the game’s premier talents from decades and generations past, as he was one of the premier hitters of his era.
The Auburn faithful should be proud, as one of their own reached the pinnacle of achievement in professional baseball on Wednesday and will forever be remembered as one of the greats to play the game of baseball.