NEW YORK — Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine were elected Wednesday to the Baseball Hall of Fame, the only time since the inaugural 1936 class that two pitchers were selected in their first year of eligibility.
Frank Thomas, who hit 521 home runs over 19 Major League Baseball seasons, was also tabbed for induction by the Baseball Writers Association of America. It’s the first time three first- time eligibles were voted in since 1999, when Nolan Ryan, George Brett and Robin Yount headlined that year’s class.
Maddux received 97.2 percent of the vote from 571 baseball writers, the eighth-highest all-time. There has never been a player elected to the Hall of Fame unanimously, with pitcher Tom Seaver getting a record 98.84 percent in 1992 and Ryan tabbed on 98.79 percent of votes in 1999.
Craig Biggio fell short in his second year on the ballot, receiving 74.8 percent of the vote. Players require 75 percent approval from voters to make the Hall of Fame. Former New York Mets catcher Mike Piazza received 62.2 percent and pitcher Jack Morris was named on 61.5 percent in his 15th and final year on the ballot.
Maddux and Glavine were teammates in Atlanta from 1994 through 2002, helping the Braves win 10 straight division titles and the World Series in 1995. Maddux logged 194 of his 355 career wins with the Braves, while 244 of Glavine’s 305 victories came in Atlanta.
The 300-win milestone for pitchers has long been considered to guarantee entrance into the Hall of Fame, as 20 of the other 22 players to reach the benchmark have been inducted. The only two who haven’t are Randy Johnson, who is eligible in 2015, and Roger Clemens, who was snubbed in voting for the second straight year because of links to performance-enhancing drugs.
A year ago, Clemens and Barry Bonds were eligible for the first time and the baseball writers failed to elect any of the 37 candidates on the ballot. It was the first time since 1996 that no candidates earned induction. Clemens received 35.4 percent of the vote and Bonds was at 34.7 percent this year.
Former managers Tony La Russa, Bobby Cox and Joe Torre are also in this year’s Hall of Fame class, having been selected last month by the expansion era committee. They rank third, fourth and fifth among MLB managers in career victories.
Cox spent 25 years in Atlanta, including 11 with Maddux and 13 seasons with Glavine.
Maddux, 47, recorded a 355-227 record with a 3.16 earned run average over 23 seasons. In addition to his 11 years with the Braves, he also spent 10 seasons with the Chicago Cubs and two each with the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers.
Maddux won four straight Cy Young Awards as the best pitcher in the National League from 1992-95, made eight All-Star teams and won 18 Gold Glove awards for his defense.
Glavine, 47, had a 305-203 record with a 3.54 ERA over 22 seasons with the Braves and New York Mets. A 10-time All-Star, the left-hander had five 20-win seasons and won the NL Cy Young Award in 1991 and 1998.
Maddux and Glavine were both second-round selections in the 1984 draft, Maddux taken 31st overall by the Cubs and Glavine going to the Braves 16 picks later. They’d have their greatest success as teammates in Atlanta, winning a World Series in Maddux’s second season with the Braves, yet also lost in the championship round in 1996 and 1999.
The only other time two pitchers were elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility was 1936, when Walter Johnson and Christy Mathewson were part of an inaugural class featuring Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb and Honus Wagner.
Until this year, only one starting pitcher had been voted in by the baseball writers since 2000: Bert Blyleven in 2011.
Thomas, 45, was a two-time American League Most Valuable Player who spent 16 of his 19 seasons with the Chicago White Sox. Nicknamed “Big Hurt,” Thomas had a career .301 batting average, slugged 30 or more home runs in a season 10 times and had 11 seasons with at least 100 runs batted in.
Biggio, one of 28 players in MLB history to reach the 3,000-hit milestone, last year fell 39 votes short of induction.