Maddux tops worthy group awaiting Hall of Fame results
By Larry Fine
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Precision pitcher Greg Maddux and others debuting on the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot on Wednesday could gain entry one year after first-timers Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens were snubbed in a Cooperstown shutout.
Home run king Bonds and seven-time Cy Young winner Clemens, both suspected of using performance-enhancing drugs, fell far short of the 75 percent of the votes needed from the Baseball Writers' Association of America for induction to Cooperstown.
While no players were elected in 2013 - the first shutout in 17 years and only the second since 1971 - it should be an entirely different story this time with Maddux topping the list for induction into the upstate New York shrine this year.
Maddux, who began his 23-year career with the Chicago Cubs before becoming a fixture in the playoffs after joining the Atlanta Braves as a free agent, won four consecutive Cy Young awards from 1992 and amassed a career mark of 355-227.
The bespectacled, modestly sized right-hander, who looked more like an academic on the mound than an athlete, dissected batters with pinpoint control to lead the National League four times in earned run average. He also helped his cause by earning a remarkable 18 Gold Glove awards as the best fielding pitcher.
Two other first-time candidates make strong cases for election in former Maddux rotation mate Tom Glavine, who won 305 games in a career spent mostly with Atlanta, and power-hitting first baseman/designated hitter Frank Thomas.
Thomas, a former college football player who stood an imposing 6-foot-5, weighed 240 pounds (109 kg) and was nicknamed "The Big Hurt," blasted 521 home runs in a career spent mainly with the Chicago White Sox, while registering a career batting average of .301.
A player must wait five years after his retirement to be considered for the Hall of Fame. Continued...