A year ago, baseball writers elected no new members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. But today was a different story. The Baseball Writers Association of America voted in three new Hall of Famers: Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas, and Tom Glavine.
"This is something that I will have to sit back in the next three or four days and figure it out because you can only dream so big, as this is as big as it gets for me," Thomas said.
Thomas earned his spot in Cooperstown by picking up 478, or 83.7 percent, of the votes cast, while Glavine received 525 votes. But Maddux was as close to a unanimous pick as baseball has seen in years — he received 555, or 97.2 percent, of the votes.
In order to be enshrined in the Hall, a player must receive at least 75 percent of the votes cast. Writers can vote for up to 10 players on their ballot. Craig Biggio just missed the cut with 74.8 percent of the vote. Maddux, Thomas, and Glavine will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on July 27. They'll go in with managers Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa, and Joe Torre.
Maddux, Glavine, and Thomas are three of the greats of the modern era of baseball. Here's a closer look at their Hall of Fame careers:
First MLB appearance: September 3, 1986
Final MLB appearance: September 27, 2008
Career regular season record: 355-227, 3.16 ERA, 3371 strikeouts
Career postseason record: 11-14, 3.27 ERA, 125 strikeouts
Greg Maddux broke into the majors with the Chicago Cubs, playing at Wrigley for six seasons. But in 1993, he went south and spent 10 seasons with the Atlanta Braves. Maddux helped the Braves win one NL West title (1993) and nine straight NL East titles (1995-2003), three NL championships (1995, 1996, 1999), and one World Series (1995).
He left Atlanta at the end of the 2003 season, Maddux returned to the Cubs for most of three seasons before being traded to the Dodgers in 2006. He then spent a couple seasons in San Diego, before being traded back to the Dodgers in 2008.
Maddux retired at the end of that season as one of the greatest pitchers in the history of baseball. His 3371 career strikeouts is tenth best all time. He was an eight-time All-Star, won 18 Gold Gloves, and a court-time Cy Young Award winner. He had his number 31 retired by the Braves and Cubs, and now can be called a Hall of Famer.
First MLB appearance: August 2, 1990
Final MLB appearance: August 29, 2008
Career regular season stats: 2322 games, .301, 2468 hits, 521 HRs, 1704 RBIs
Career postseason stats: 16 games, .224, 11 hits, 3 HRs, 5 RBIs
Frank Thomas — the Big Hurt — also began his career in Chicago, as a first baseman with the White Sox in 1990. But his on-field home was in the batter's box. Thomas was one of the game's dominant hitters, eventually sliding into a DH role with the Sox, propelling them to a World Series win in 2005. The next season, Thomas headed west and played a year for the Oakland Athletics. The following year, he went north to join the Toronto Blue Jays, which released him in 2008. He signed back with the A's a few days after being released, and at the end of the season became a free agent. After not playing for a couple years, Thomas decided to call it a career. In 2010, he signed a one-day contract with the Sox to officially retire with the team.
Over his 18 seasons in the league, Thomas hit 521 home runs, good enough to tie him with Willie McCovey and Ted Williams for 18th all time. He was a two-time American League MVP and five-time All-Star, won four Silver Slugger Award, the 1997 batting title, and the 1995 Home Run Derby, and was a World Series champion. The Sox retired his number 35 in 2010, and in 2011 unveiled a statue honoring him at U.S. Cellular Field.
First MLB appearance: August 17, 1987
Final MLB appearance: August 14, 2008
Career regular season stats: 305-203, 3.54 ERA, 2607 strikeouts (24th all time)
Career postseason stats: 14-16, 3.30 ERA, 143 strikeouts
Tom Glavine was a product of Atlanta's legendary farm system, which developed some of the greatest players in recent baseball history. His first start came in 1987, and with the arrival of Greg Maddux in 1993 formed one of the most fearsome rotations in the majors. Glavine helped the Braves win 11 division titles, five NL championships, and a World Series in 1995.
He played with the Braves until 2002. The following season, he signed with Atlanta's division rival the New York Mets. He played four season in New York, helping the Mets to one NL East title, in 2006. In 2008, for what would be his last season, Glavine returned to Atlanta to once again pitch for the Braves. After nursing injuries over the course of the next two years, Glavine officially retired in 2010.
Glavine left baseball as one of its great pitchers. His 2607 career strikeouts is 24th best all time. He was a 10-time All-Star, a two-time Cy Young Award winner, and the 1995 World Series MVP. He was also a pretty decent hitter, winning four Silver Slugger Awards. (Fun Fact: Glavine was also good on the ice: He was drafted by the NHL's Los Angeles Kings in 1984, two rounds ahead of future hockey hall of famers Brett Hull and Luc Robitaille.) After making his retirement official in 2010, the Braves retired his number 47.
Photos: John Biever/Sports Illustrated (Maddux), Jonathan Daniel/Allsport (Thomas), AP Photo/Paul Chiasson (Glavine), Chris Trotman/Getty Images (Maddux), REUTERS/Sue Ogrocki (Thomas), AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian (Glavine)