Featured Image Credit: George Napolitano
New York, NY- Less than 24 hours after they were informed by telephone that they were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas were in the Vanderbilt Room of the Waldorf Astoria in New York City speaking with the press.
Each was, obviously, moved and expressed his feelings in words very similar to the other two in brief opening statements. Glavine: “Overwhelmed, humbled, proud.” Maddux: “Very humbling experience.” Thomas: “Overjoyed, overwhelmed, humbled and thrilled.”
They were asked to add words that they believe described them that should be written on their HOF plaques and responded. Maddux: “Overachieved.” When asked about his choice of words in the informal interviews that followed the relatively brief formal question and answer session, Maddux corrected his words by saying he meant that did the best he could with his abilities. Glavine: “A competitor, stubborn, durable, dependable.” Thomas: “Consistent, very driven.”
Each was asked how the time they spent in the minors affected them. Maddux: “That’s where you grow up. It was my first time away from home. You learn as much as you can and try to get better.” Glavine answered in similar fashion, “That’s where you learn to play the game on a daily basis and how to get better.”
Thomas’s background is different than the two pitchers as he played football in front of large crowds at Auburn, where the team received extensive publicity. Thus his answer differed, “I was blessed to play major college football at Auburn. I only spent eight months in the minors.”
When asked to explain why, with all their accomplishments in the majors, neither Glavine not Maddux ever pitched a no-hitter, Glavine answered with humor and honesty, “Pitchers are sometimes described as having no-hit stuff. You don’t hear that much about us. We generally tried to pitch to contact as much as we could.”
Each was asked of his memories of his first day in the majors. Maddux, who signed with Cubs, said it was at Wrigley Field. As a pitcher he found it fascinating to watch “the hardest thrower, Nolan Ryan, against the softest thrower, Jamie Moyers.” Glavine’s first start was at the Astrodome against Mike Scott.
He remembered, “I was more in awe of where I was [major leagues] than getting guys out.” Because of that attitude his time in the game was very short. His strongest memory was his first at bat, an experience he rarely had in the minors. Thomas most remembers coming up the same day with Alex Fernandez, a pitcher he played with in the minors.
Possibly because the press conference was held in New York, Maddux was asked his feelings about almost signing with the Yankees in the early 1990’s. He commented, “I thought about it a lot, especially when they were winning all those World Series.” He explained his decision to sign with Atlanta, “I was a National League player. I wanted to stay in the National League and win a World Series. Atlanta fit both those needs for me.”
Later, in the informal interviews, he was asked if he had any regrets and said, “No regrets at all. It worked out pretty well.” But he did add, “[Yankees executive] Gene Michael took me around. The Yankees jersey is special to wear.”
After the formal event concluded, the trio posed for photos and then conducted informal interview sessions with small groups of rotating reporters.
This article also appears on NewYorkSportsExaminer.com.