McCollough: Maddux, Glavine, Cox more than deserving of HOF

Published 10:25 pm Wednesday, January 8, 2014

I have never met Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux or Bobby Cox. But I spent most nights of my childhood with them.

I was just 6 years old, but I had a date every night. It was me, my oversized John Deere pillow in the floor of my living room and the Braves on Superstation TBS at 6:05 p.m.

It is only fitting that three of biggest Atlanta Braves legends enter baseball’s hallowed hall in Cooperstown together. The trio, along with soon-to-be hall of famers John Smoltz and Chipper Jones, led the Bravos during one of the most impressive runs in the history of professional sports.

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Atlanta captured 14 straight division titles during the era. The team played in five World Series’ in the 1990’s, winning it all in 1995.

Along the way, Maddux and Glavine dominated professional baseball and baffled hitters up and down the lineup.

Maddux was one of the best of all time during his time in Atlanta. He was the first pitcher in major league history to win the Cy Young Award for four consecutive years. During those four seasons, In addition, he holds the record for most Gold Gloves with eighteen. A superb control pitcher, Maddux won more games during the 1990s than any other pitcher and is 8th on the all-time career wins list with 355.

With 164 victories during the 1990s, Glavine held the second highest amounts of wins as a pitcher in the National League, second only to teammate Maddux. He was a five-time 20-game winner and two-time Cy Young Award winner, and one of only 24 pitchers (and just 6 left-handers) in major league history to earn 300 career wins.

Cox has been named Manager of the Year four times and is one of only four managers to have won the award in both the American and National League. He is also the only person to have won the award in consecutive years. Cox has also been named Manager of the Year by The Sporting News eight times.

But outside of the stat lines of the men, the helped an entire generation of young boys fall in love with America’s pastime. The World Series was cancelled in 1994 due to a player’s strike, and when baseball returned in 1995, it was the Braves that captured the hearts of the nation on the run to the World Series.

Baseball needed a team that fans could latch on to, and with the run to the World Series and the ever-growing availability of TBS, Braves County was born. The non-physical borders of Braves County stretch from southern Virginia to Louisiana, and include most of the Deep South.

There are no major professional sports in Alabama, so the Braves were my first taste. I saw Maddux and Glavine rack up strikeouts, and witness Cox protect his players by getting ejected. When playing Dixie baseball, I saw children on the “Braves” nearly come to blows trying to get the honor to wear 47 or 31 on their back. And it always seemed the head coach of that team wore No. 6.

The on-the-field stats were more than enough to get to share the same room as Ruth, Mays, Aaron and Williams, but the three Braves icons also brought America’s favorite pastime back to prominence.

So in late July I may have to drive down to Elba to dig through the closet and find that old pillow. Then find a spot on my mom’s living room floor and watch three of my heroes take their rightful place as baseball immortals.

Ryan McCollough is a sports writer for The Messenger. He covers high school, recreation and Troy University athletics, and is a member of the Football Writers Association of America.