I try very hard not to spend too much time on the blog talking about baseball, because I know that a lot of you aren’t baseball fans, and this really isn’t a baseball blog. But I’m a baseball fan, and today is the day The National Baseball Hall of Fame holds its induction ceremony. I’m proud to say that they are inducting six men, three as players and three as managers, into the Hall this year, all of whom have a connection to at least one of the teams of which I’m a fan, the Chicago White Sox and the Atlanta Braves.
- Tom Glavine: Tom pitched for the Braves from 1987 to 2002 and again in 2008 and for the New York Mets in 2003 to 2007. He is fourth in career wins by a left-handed pitcher with 305 (maybe the last pitcher to win 300 games), a ten-time All-Star, won the NL Cy Young Award twice (1991 and 1998), and the Silver Slugger award as the best-hitting pitcher four times. He pitched the first Braves game I listened to in 1988, and if you had told me that he was a future Hall of Famer after that game, I’d have laughed at you. He was the winner in Game 6 of the 1995 World Series, which the Braves won four games to two over the Cleveland Indians. He now does analysis for Braves telecasts. Tom and I share a birthday (March 25).
- Greg Maddux: There were many who considered Greg the greatest pitcher of all time. He won the NL Cy Young Award four consecutive times, from 1992 through 1995, an eight-time All-Star, and earned seventeen Gold Gloves. He won 355 games overall, 194 with the Braves, 133 with the Chicago Cubs. As such, he’ll be entered into the Hall without a team insignia on his cap.
- Frank Thomas: Frank hit 448 of his 521 home runs with the White Sox, a team record. Primarily a designated hitter, he was AL MVP twice, earned the Silver Slugger four times, had a lifetime batting average of .301 and OPS of .974, and is one of the few recent players to walk more than he struck out (he only struck out over 100 times in a season three times). Frank is from Columbus, Georgia, and played baseball and football for Auburn. White Sox announcer gave him the nickname “The Big Hurt.”
- Bobby Cox: He led the Braves to 14 division titles, five NL pennants, and one World Series title from 1991 through 2005, and led the Toronto Blue Jays to a division title in 1985. In total, he won 2,504 games and lost 2,001 as a manager. He also managed to be thrown out of 163 games (162 regular-season and one postseason). Despite that, he was named AL Manager of the Year once and NL Managter of the Year three times. He had a brief career as a third baseman with the New York Yankees (1968-69) before bad knees ended it. He hit his first home run against Gary Peters of the White Sox in 1968. I never forgot that. I ran into Bobby at Starbucks one Sunday, and he is a truly nice man.
- Tony LaRussa: Tony’s playing career spanned eleven seasons (1963-1973) but he only played 132 games in six major-league seasons in that span. Tony’s first major-league managerial job came in 1979, when he was hired as White Sox manager. The highlight of his eight years with the White Sox was winning a division title in 1983. That was the first time the White Sox went to the postseason since 1959, for which all of us White Sox fans will be eternally grateful. He was fired by the Sox in 1986 and hired almost immediately by the Oakland Athletics, who he led to four division titles, three AL pennants, and a World Series win. He left the A’s for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1996, and led them to seven division titles, three NL pennants, and two World Series wins, retiring after the second with a career record of 2,728 wins and 2,365 losses. He was named AL Manager of the Year three times and NL Manager of the Year once.
- Joe Torre: Joe had the best playing career of the three managers, and some feel that he should have made the Hall as a player. in eighteen seasons, he had a batting average of .297 and an OPS of .817, hitting 252 home runs and driving in 1,185, was a nine-time All-Star and NL MVP in 1971. He played for the Braves from 1960-1968, the Cardinals from 1969-74, and the New York Mets from 1975-1977 as a catcher, third baseman and first baseman. He managed the Mets from 1977 to 1981, the Braves from 1982 to 1984 (winning one division title), the Cardinals from 1990 to 1995, the New York Yankees from 1996 to 2007 (winning ten division titles, six AL Championships, and four World Series), and the Los Angeles Dodgers from 2008 to 2010 (winning two division titles). In all, his record was 2,326 wins and 1,997 losses.
Congratulations to all of them!