Cooperstown (United States) (AFP) - Bobby Cox, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, who helped the Atlanta Braves win 14 straight division titles, led a stellar 2014 class into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday.
"I can honestly say, I would not be standing here today if it weren't for you guys," former Braves manager Cox said of Cy Young award-winning pitchers Maddux and Glavine.
"Together, these guys earned six Cy Young Awards wearing Braves uniforms."
Frank Thomas, Tony La Russa and Joe Torre were also honored at the Hall in Cooperstown.
Maddux didn't go into the Hall of Fame officially as a Brave, but he was a key contributor to the club's success.
The winner of four straight National League Cy Young Awards from 1992-95 and a record 18 Gold Glove Awards in a 23-year career, Maddux was the first one inducted on Sunday.
"My first day in the big leagues, the starting pitchers were Nolan Ryan and Jamie Moyer. Twenty minutes before the game, I was sitting on the bench, and my first manager Gene Michael thought I was the bat boy," Maddux recalled.
He was a recognized star by the end of his career, however, compiling a 355-227 record with a 3.16 earned run average and 3,371 strikeouts, playing for the Chicago Cubs, Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres.
Maddux and Glavine became the first "primary teammates" elected together by the Baseball Writers Association of America since Whitey Ford and Mickey Mantle in 1974.
They are the first pair of 300-game winning pitchers inducted in the same year since 1973 when Warren Spahn and Mickey Welch both entered the shrine.
Glavine, a longtime teammate with Maddux in Atlanta, was a two-time NL Cy Young Award winner (1991 and '98) and 10-time All-Star. He posted a 305-203 record with a 3.54 ERA over 22 seasons with the Braves and New York Mets. The left-hander was a five-time 20-game winner and won four Silver Slugger Awards.
In 1984, Glavine was drafted by the Braves and also by the Los Angeles Kings. Glavine turned down a career in the NHL in favor of baseball.
"I had a difficult choice to make and as a left-handed pitcher I thought that was the thing that would set me apart and make baseball the smartest decision," Glavine said. "Of course, I always wonder what would have happened if I had taken up hockey."
- Magical moments -
Thomas established his Hall of Fame credentials at the plate.
Nicknamed the "Big Hurt" for his slugging power, Thomas won American League MVP Awards with the Chicago White Sox in 1993 and '94 and placed in the top three in the voting five times overall. He finished his 19-year career with 2,468 hits, including 521 home runs, 1,704 runs batted in and 1,494 runs scored.
"In my career I had so many magical moments in all three uniforms," Thomas said. "I will always be thankful, for all of you."
Cox, La Russa and Torre were dominant managerial figures in baseball from the mid-1990s. They all rank in the top five in managerial wins, all with well over 2,000 to their credit.
Torre, fifth on that list with 2,326 victories, started his managerial career as a player-manager for the New York Mets and also skippered the Atlanta Braves, St. Louis Cardinals and New York Yankees.
"I might as well cut to the chase. I'm here because of the New York Yankees," Torre said.
It was with the storied Yankees that Torre racked up 1,173 of his wins, leading them to four World Series titles.
Cox is fourth on the all-time managerial wins list with 2,504. He guided the Atlanta Braves to the 1995 World Series title, and to four other World Series appearances.
La Russa managed the Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics and St. Louis Cardinals for 33 seasons. He compiled 2,728 wins to rank third all-time behind Connie Mack and John McGraw and won three World Series titles, one with the A's in 1989 and twice with the Cardinals in 2006 and 2011.