The Baseball Writers' Association of America has reopened the doors to the Hall of Fame.One year after none of the 37 candidates on the ballot garnered enough support for enshrinement, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas were elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2014. All three players were appearing on the ballot for the first time.
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Maddux and Glavine, a pair of 300-game winners who headlined the Atlanta Braves' pitching staff during the team's run of success during the 1990s and early 2000s, both appeared on more than 90% of ballots. Maddux, the eighth-winningest pitcher in MLB history with 355 career victories, was named on 555 of 571 ballots (97.2%) while his longtime teammate received 525 votes (91.9 %). Thomas, a hulking designated hitter and first baseman who spent 16 of his 19 with the Chicago White Sox, was named on 478 ballots (83.7%). The two-time American League MVP retired after the 2008 season with 521 career home runs, 495 doubles and 1,704 RBI. Dubbed the "Big Hurt," Thomas wasn't simply a power hitter. He drew 100 walks in 10 seasons and led the junior loop in on-base percentage four times.
"I want to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer," Thomas told MLB.com in November. "I deserve to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, I think. The resume speaks for itself, but when it comes to voting, I don't control that."
SCROLL DOWN FOR COMPLETE VOTING RESULTS
As noted in the official press release of the National Baseball Hall Of Fame and Museum issued on Wednesday, the election of three players appearing on the ballot for the first time in 2014 marks the first time that has happened since 1999 when Nolan Ryan, George Brett and Robin Yount were all selected. Maddux and Glavine became the first pair of players elected in the same year to both record voting percentages in the 90th-percentile since Cal Ripken Jr. (98.5) and Tony Gwynn (97.6) both received similarly overwhelming support in 2007, according to the BBWAA.
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In the weeks leading up to the announcement of the Class of 2014, Maddux was considered a candidate to achieve a historic first: unanimous election. No player has ever appeared on every submitted ballot, with longtime New York Mets pitcher Tom Seaver coming closest when he appeared on 425 out of 430 ballots (98.84%) in 1992.
"I know there's been no unanimous [electee] in the history to the Hall of Fame, but I think [Maddux] would be it if there is," retired pitcher John Smoltz, who pitched with both Maddux and Glavine in Atlanta, told MLB.com before the voting results were revealed. "I'm biased."
The debate over Maddux's chances at -- and worthiness of -- such an unprecedented feat were put to rest a day before the results were revealed when MLB.com's Ken Gurnick, who currently covers the Los Angeles Dodgers, revealed his polarizing ballot. Refusing to vote anyone who "played during the period of PED use," Gurnick submitted a ballot that only listed pitcher Jack Morris. A 5-time All-Star, Morris began his career in 1977 with the Detroit Tigers before the so-called "Steroid Era" began. Of course, he did pitch long enough -- 18 seasons -- for noted performance-enhancing drug pioneer Jose Canseco to have 56 plate appearances against him so by some definitions he did compete in the era that has made voting for the Hall of Fame such a controversial endeavor in recent years.
In his 15th and final year of eligibility, Morris did not receive enough votes for election. Morris received 351 votes (61.5%), falling 78 votes short of the 75% needed. Morris was one of four players not elected that was mentioned on more than 50% of ballots, joining Craig Biggio (74.8%), Mike Piazza (62.2%), Jeff Bagwell (54.3%). Biggio came just two votes short of appearing on 75% of ballots in his second year of eligibility. By coming two votes short of induction, Biggio joins Nellie Fox and Pie Traynor for smallest margin in balloting history, according to the Hall Of Fame.
Morris will come off the ballot after 15 years per rules of election but Biggio, Piazza and Bagwell headline a star-studded group of players who will reappear on the next ballot. Notably, all-time home run king Barry Bonds and seven-time Cy Young Award-winner Roger Clemens remain unelected after two years eligibility.
Here is a look at the complete 2014 voting results, via The Associated Press:
571 votes cast, 429 needed
Greg Maddux 555 (97.2, Tom Glavine 525 (91.9), Frank Thomas 478 (83.7), Craig Biggio 427 (74.8), Mike Piazza 355 (62.2), Jack Morris 351 (61.5), Jeff Bagwell 310 (54.3), Tim Raines 263 (46.1), Roger Clemens 202 (35.4), Barry Bonds 198 (34.7), Lee Smith 171 (29.9), Curt Schilling 167 (29.2), Edgar Martinez 144 (25.2), Alan Trammell 119 (20.8), Mike Mussina 116 (20.3), Jeff Kent 87 (15.2), Fred McGriff 67 (11.7), Mark McGwire 63 (11.0), Larry Walker 58 (10.2), Don Mattingly 47 (8.2), Sammy Sosa 41 (7.2).
By receiving fewer than 28 votes (less than 5 percent), Rafael Palmeiro 25 (4.4), Moises Alou 6 (1.1), Hideo Nomo 6 (1.1), Luis Gonzalez 5 (0.9), Eric Gagne 2 (0.4), J.T. Snow 2 (0.4), Armando Benitez 1 (0.2), Jacque Jones 1 (0.2), Kenny Rogers 1 (0.2), Sean Casey 0, Ray Durham 0, Todd Jones 0, Paul Lo Duca 0, Richie Sexson 0, Mike Timlin 0 are no longer eligible for election by the BBWAA.