Dreaming of Cooperstown
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
The Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum in Cooperstown, NY announced its 2014 ballot today, and one very important White Sox star is front and center – Frank Thomas.
The Big Hurt, who won consecutive American League MVP Awards in 1993 and ’94 and placed in the top three in the voting five times overall, finished his 19-year career with 2,468 hits, including 521 home runs. He drove in 1,704 runs, scored 1,494 and had more walks (1,667) than strikeouts (1,397). Thomas ranks as the White Sox all-time leader in home runs (448), walks (1,466), runs (1,327), RBI (1,465), SLG (.568), total bases (3,949), doubles (447), extra-base hits (906) and OBP (.427).
The ballot is being mailed this week to more than 600 voting members of the BBWAA.
Pitchers Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Eric Gagne, Thomas and second baseman Jeff Kent join 17 holdovers from the 2013 balloting that failed to produce a winning candidate for the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., for the first time since 1996.
Craig Biggio, who totaled 3,060 hits and was a seven-time All-Star while playing three positions (catcher, second base, outfield), topped the 2013 ballot with 388 votes – 39 shy of the 427 required for election. His total reflected 68.2 percent of the electorate, which consists of BBWAA members with 10 or more consecutive years of Major League Baseball coverage.
Players must be named on 75 percent of the ballots cast to earn election. Other players named on more than half the ballots were pitcher Jack Morris (67.7 percent), first baseman Jeff Bagwell (59.6), catcher Mike Piazza (57.8) and outfielder Tim Raines (52.2). Players may remain on the ballot for up to 15 years provided they receive five percent of the vote in any year. This is the 15th and final year of eligibility for Morris.
Maddux won four consecutive National League Cy Young Awards from 1992-95 and a record 18 Gold Glove Awards in a 23-season career in which he compiled a 355-227 record with a 3.16 earned run average and 3,371 strikeouts in 5,008 1/3 innings combined for the Chicago Cubs, Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres. The righthander led the NL in ERA four times and won at least 15 games for 17 straight seasons, another record.
Glavine, a two-time NL Cy Young Award winner (1991 and ’98) and 10-time All-Star, was 305-203 with a 3.54 ERA over 22 seasons combined with the Braves and New York Mets. The lefthander was a five-time 20-game winner and won four Silver Slugger Awards. Gagne had 55 saves and a 1.20 ERA in 77 appearances with the Dodgers in his Cy Young Award season.
Jeff Kent, the NL MVP in 2000 with the San Francisco Giants, also played for the Mets, Dodgers, Toronto Blue Jays, Cleveland Indians and Houston Astros in a 17-season career during which he slammed 377 home runs, 351 of which were as a second baseman, a major league record. The five-time All-Star had at least 20 homers and 100 RBI in eight seasons, the most by any second baseman in major-league history.
Hideo Nomo, the 1995 NL Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year winner and the owner of two no-hitters; and two World Series heroes, outfielders Moises Alou (1997 Florida Marlins) and Luis Gonzalez (2001 Arizona Diamondbacks), are also on the ballot for the first time. Joining them are righthander Mike Mussina, who had a .638 winning percentage (270-153) over 18 seasons with the Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees; lefthander Kenny Rogers, whose perfect game for the Texas Rangers in 1994 was the highlight of a 20-year career; reliever Armando Benitez, the 2001 Rolaids Relief Man of the Year and first baseman J.T. Snow, a six-time Gold Glove Award winner. Other newcomers are relievers Todd Jones and Mike Timlin, first basemen Sean Casey and Richie Sexson, second baseman Ray Durham, catcher Paul Lo Duca and outfielder Jacque Jones.
Among others returning to the ballot are first basemen Don Mattingly, Fred McGriff, Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro; outfielders Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Larry Walker; pitchers Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling and Lee Smith; shortstop Alan Trammell and third baseman-DH Edgar Martinez.
Writers must return ballots by a Dec. 31 postmark. Votes are counted jointly by BBWAA secretary-treasurer Jack O’Connell and Ernst & Young partner Michael DiLecce. Results will be announced at 2 p.m., EST, Wednesday, January 8, 2014, on MLB Network and the web sites of the Hall of Fame and the BBWAA.
The White Sox held a conference call today with Season Ticket Holders and coaches Don Cooper and Todd Steverson. Below are a few quotes from the call you may enjoy:
On Thanksgiving plans: “Eat some turkey. Sit back, relax and enjoy my family and friends.”
On the mentality needed to be a closer: “You have to have something, either good stuff, or an individual pitch that people swing and miss at or not center up. Like Mariano Rivera’s cutter. You have to have a thick skin and you have to be tough.”
On White Sox left-handed starters: “I feel really good about our left-handed pitchers. I feel very good about the arsenal and equipment our left-handers have and I believe they will all have good seasons.”
On Thanksgiving plans: “Get the family together, watch my brother make a fried turkey and sit and watch some football games.”
On using his hitting philosophy throughout the organization: “We are in the process of speaking with our minor league staff. We will be from top to bottom, throughout the system, implementing a process [of being aggressive in the strike zone].”
On Jose Abreu: “There is a lot of positive feedback on Abreu. The fact that he can use the whole field and is not just a home run hitter is a plus. He is a strong man. He has a good idea at the plate.”
On his baseball influences: “I loved to watch Andre Dawson. Dave Winfield was one of my baseball heroes as well. I’ve been able to meet and talk baseball with both of them.”
Here’s to a wonderful Thanksgiving for White Sox fans everywhere. May you be surrounded by family and friends with many reasons to be thankful …