After seeing Tim Hudson and Brian McCann depart via free agency in a span of six days, Atlanta Braves fans had something to celebrate Tuesday. The 2014 Hall of Fame ballot was announced, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine topped the list.
The former Braves 300-game winners headline a list of 19 first-time candidates. The 2014 class will be voted on by members of the Baseball Writers Association of America by Dec. 31. The results will be announced Jan. 8.
After no one was elected last summer when voters denied first-year eligible players such as Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa, the ballot is stocked this time with plenty of candidates not clouded by suspicion of using performance-enhancing drugs.
Joining Maddux and Glavine among first-time candidates are former White Sox DH Frank Thomas, former Giants second baseman Jeff Kent, former Yankees and Orioles right-hander Mike Mussina and former Diamondbacks outfielder Luis Gonzalez.
"After last year I think there's a different kind of hunger this year for guys to get in," Glavine said Tuesday afternoon. "I think there are a lot of guys on the ballot this year that certainly are worthy and that I think people have the sense that they did it the right way and, I think, a lot of guys that people across baseball identified with. So I think that all makes it for an interesting dynamic."
The Hall of Fame induction ceremony July 27 could be decidedly Braves-oriented because Maddux, Glavine and former manager Bobby Cox could go into the Hall at the same time.
Three weeks ago, Cox was named one of 12 candidates on the Expansion Era ballot to be voted on by the Veterans Committee, along with Tony La Russa and Joe Torre, all three of whom are in the top five all-time in managerial wins. That decision will be announced Dec. 9 at the winter meetings.
"It would be pretty neat to be able to go in with guys that you spent a significant portion of your career with, guys that were extremely important and influential in your career," Glavine said. "It's a rare enough honor to get in on your own, let alone to go in with guys that you spent a large chunk of your career with."
Maddux ranks eighth on baseball's all-time win list with 355 _ 194 of which came in his 11 seasons with the Braves. He was the first pitcher to win four consecutive Cy Young awards, claiming his first as a Cub in 1992, followed by three with the Braves from 1993-95.
Maddux was the first pitcher since Walter Johnson to post ERAs under 1.70 in back-to-back seasons _ 1.56 in 1994 and 1.63 in 1995. He won 18 Gold Gloves.
Of Glavine's 305 wins, 244 came with the Braves. The two-time Cy Young award winner and 10-time All-Star finished his career the fourth all-time winningest left-handed pitcher and 21st overall.
As for how it would feel to be inducted? "I'd be lying to you if I said I knew," Glavine said. "Obviously it would be an unbelievably proud feeling."
Glavine doesn't take it as a foregone conclusion that he'll make it in on the first ballot. Of the 21 pitchers who have won 300 or more games and are eligible for the Hall of Fame (not including Maddux, Glavine and Randy Johnson, who becomes eligible next year), Clemens is the only one who isn't in the Hall of Fame.
But of the 20 who are in, only six went in on the first ballot. Even Cy Young (511 wins) needed three ballots to be inducted.
Players have to be named on at least 75 percent of the ballots to be elected. Among the top vote-getters returning from last year's ballot include Craig Biggio, who was named on 68.2 percent of the ballots, Jack Morris (67.7), Jeff Bagwell (59.6 percent) and Mike Piazza (57.8). Among the other first-time eligibles are Hideo Nomo, J.T. Snow, Moises Alou and Eric Gagne. Voters can select up to 10 players on each ballot.
Former Brave Dale Murphy dropped off the ballot this year after failing to reach the requisite 75 percent for 15 years. He could still be chosen by the Veterans Committee, though the Expansion Era is considered only every three years, and the earliest he could be considered would be for 2017.