NEW YORK — Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas were elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame on Wednesday, while Craig Biggio fell two votes short and tainted stars of the Steroids Era remained a long way from Cooperstown.
Maddux was picked on 555 of 571 ballots by senior members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. His 97.2 percentage was the eighth-highest in the history of voting.
Glavine, Maddux’s longtime teammate in the Atlanta rotation, appeared on 525 ballots and received 91.9 per cent. Thomas, the first Hall of Famer who spent the majority of his career as a designated hitter, was at 483 and 83.7 per cent.
Thomas said he accepts the view of many Hall of Famers that players whose accomplishments are muddied by accusations of steroid use, such as Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, don’t belong in the Hall.
“I’ve got to take the right stance, too. No, they shouldn’t get in,” he said. “There shouldn’t be cheating allowed to get into the Hall of Fame.”
The trio will be inducted July 27 along with managers Bobby Cox, Joe Torre and Tony La Russa, elected last month by the expansion-era committee. Maddux and Glavine, who played under Cox for most of their careers, will become the first pair of 300-game winners to be inducted in the same year.
“It’s exciting for me to go in with my teammate,” Maddux said.
The only other time three players were elected together in their first appearances was in 1999 with Nolan Ryan, George Brett and Robin Yount.
Biggio received 427 votes and 74.8 per cent, matching Nellie Fox in 1985 and Pie Traynor in 1947 for the smallest margin to just miss. Traynor made it the following year, and Fox was elected by the old Veterans Committee in 1997.
Biggio, who spent his entire career with the Houston Astros, appeared on 388 ballots last year in his initial appearance — when writers failed to elect anyone — and appears to be on track to gain election next year.
“Obviously, I’m disappointed to come that close,” he said in a statement. “I feel for my family, the organization and the fans. Hopefully, next year.”
Mike Piazza was next with 62.2 per cent, up from 57.8 last year. Jack Morris was 78 votes short at 61.5 per cent in his 15th and final appearance on the writers’ ballot, a drop from 67.7 per cent. Morris replaces Gil Hodges (63 per cent in 1983) as the player with the highest-percentage of the vote not in the Hall.
Jeff Bagwell dropped to 54.3 per cent from 59.6, and Tim Raines to 46.1 from 52.2.
Controversy over how to evaluate stars tainted by the Steroids Era continued to impact the vote totals of players with stellar statistics. In their second appearances on the ballot, Roger Clemens dropped from 37.6 per cent to 35.4, Barry Bonds from 36.2 to 34.7 and Sammy Sosa from 12.5 to 7.2.
Bonds, baseball’s career home run leader, is the only seven-time MVP in major league history. Clemens is the lone seven-time Cy Young Award winner.
“As for what they did, I don’t think any of us will ever really know,” Thomas said.
“But I can just tell you, what I did was real and that’s why I’ve got this smile on my face right now because the writers, they definitely got it right.”
Mark McGwire, appearing for the eighth time, fell from 16.9 to 11 per cent — down from a peak of 25.6 in 2008. Rafael Palmeiro will be dropped from future ballots after falling to 25 votes and 4.4 per cent — below the 5 per cent threshold necessary to remain eligible. One voter submitted a blank ballot.