ATLANTA-- On Sunday, July 27th Major League Baseball inducted the class of 2014 into the Hall of Fame. Three of the six inductees are Atlanta Braves: Bobby Cox, Greg Maddux, and Tom Glavine. The other three members also have ties to Georgia. Frank Thomas who played for the Chicago White Sox is from Columbus, Georgia. Managers Tony La Russa and Joe Torre once played for the Braves.
"The Glory Days"
Before the 14 straight Division Titles, before the World Series Championship, there were a lot of dark times and empty seats. "Nobody came to the ballpark in those days," Bobby Cox told 11Alive's Jeff Hullinger.
The Braves averaged only 65 wins per season between 1985 and 1990. In 1988, they lost 106 games. In 1990, things started to click into place. They found their manager in Bobby Cox. And in 1991, Tom Glavine found the outside corner. Repeatedly. They went from worst to first, but lost the World Series to the Minnesota Twins in seven games. It was a sign of things to come.
In 1993, the Braves added Greg Maddux to an already loaded rotation. "If you have great pitching like that, you've got a great chance to win a lot of ball games," Cox said. "We felt good about it."
In 1995, it finally happened. A World Series will over the Cleveland Indians came in six games. Tom Glavine was on the mound that night. It was eight innings of beautiful one-hit baseball.
Fourteen straight division titles. One World Series. It was the team of the nineties.
"The call to the Hall."
Three Braves go into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown now Cox, Glavine, Maddux- - -two more, Smoltz and Jones later. It's a starting five that will never be repeated in Atlanta and maybe- -just maybe- - never replicated anywhere again in MLB. How good were they Perspective on this subject should come from only one Braves immortal.
Hank "the Hammer" Aaron is a Hall of Famer and baseball's home run king. Chipper Jones and John Smoltz are future Hall of Famers'. All three talk to Jeff Hullinger about how special it is to get the call to the Hall. They also talk about what made Cox, Glavine and Maddux so special .
"All three of their records speak for themselves. But when you start talking about Bobby Cox, Maddux, and Glavine you talking about three special players, I mean really. Being a Brave for many years, it makes me feel good to have those guys coming in because their credentials are as good as anybody's," Hank Aaron told 11Alive's Jeff Hullinger.
"They were pitchers. They were thinkers. They knew how to pitch. They knew how to get you out. And that was the most important thing," Aaron said. If Glavine and Maddux were thinkers- - tacticians- -men who outfoxed with guile, grit and creativity, then what about the man who had their backs? A man who did more than pitch in- - -Bobby Cox the players manager.
As Hank Aaron sees it- - - -Cox, Maddux & Glavine represent a unique style that was similar in how they pitched and how he managed. All three were experts in mixing it up, keeping an opponent off balance.
"Bobby Cox Profile"
Bobby Cox is not one to reflect. He built a Hall of Fame career by always looking forward … which becomes more impressive when you look back.
"I just feel that I gave everything I could, you know, and our players gave everything they could, and I don't know if you could ask for more from a manager than that," Cox said.
Cox first came to the Braves in the 70's, after a brief career as a player led to him ultimately becoming a manager. Matt Pearl reports how Cox returned to Atlanta in the 80's, first as general manager, then just manager, just in time to lead the Braves to history.
During his career Bobby Cox was ejected from 158 games. No one has ever been thrown out more."When we were on a losing streak, I seldom got thrown out. I wasn't going to blame the umpires for us playing poorly. But in the heat of the action, as good as we were, day in and day out, every game could be a win or a loss," Cox said.
With the Hall of Fame approaching, Bobby Cox is forced into reflection. But as he looks back, and forward, he keeps it simple: "I couldn't have asked for anything more. The Braves have been great to me, and hopefully, I've been good for them."
"Greg Maddux Profile"
Greg Maddux won three Cy Young Awards and reached the postseason 10 times as a member of the Atlanta Braves. Maddux is one of only four pitchers with more than 3000 strikeouts and fewer than 100 walks. Perhaps the greatest pitcher in Braves history may always be an enigma.
"Greg was the person no one ever knew. He put on this persona," former teammate John Smoltz said.
Nicknamed "Mad Dog" Maddux spent the first 6 seasons of his career with the Chicago Cubs before joining the Braves in 1993. With all the individual accolades, he says his high point was when his team won it all: "I know back in my room at home I have a World Series trophy. I don't have an 11-straight-division-titles thing in there, so you know obviously the World Series thing is pretty special."
His latest choice has vexed the fans in Atlanta. He will enter the Hall of Fame as neither a Brave nor a Cub; his hat will be blank. "I spent 11 years in Chicago if you count the minor leagues," Maddux said. "I don't think I ever would have had an opportunity to even get on the Hall of Fame ballot if I had not played in Chicago."
"Tom Glavine Profile"
As a boy growing up in Massachusetts, Tom Glavine could never have imagined that one day, he would be as indigenous to Atlanta as the franchise that moved south from Milwaukee in the mid 1960's. Tom Glavine elegant on and off the field, verbose, cool under pressure and just being himself. A baseball player who embodied the word professional - - now add Hall of Famer to the description and to the title.
Glavine is a five- time 20 game winner, winner of Two Cy Young's, one of only 24 pitchers in major League history to earn 300 career wins, and one of just 6 left hander's.
"I'm not going to say that I ever dreamed that I'd be going to Cooperstown someday, but I thought I could have a decent baseball career and certainly set myself up for the rest of my life; it went a lot better than I envisioned," Glavine told 11Alive News.
To categorize Glavine as a great pitcher would be to sell him short - - -he was more than that in the clubhouse, in the game, in this community.