Four great baseball players just got the ultimate honor. The four greats that entered the Hall included three pitchers – Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, and John Smoltz – as well as catcher and second baseman Craig Biggio. The group followed last year’s induction of Greg Maddox and Tom Glavine, who were the first starting pitchers to be inducted as a group since 1991. The only other time three starting pitchers were inducted at once was in 1946.
Pitchers in general haven’t gotten a great deal in the Hall of Fame; after Nolan Ryan’s induction in 1999, the next starter to get the honor was Bert Blyleven in 2011. It’s especially impressive considering that all three were pitchers in the 90s home run boom, when big sluggers dominated.
Craig Biggio is the first veteran of the Houston Astros to make it into the Hall of Fame. He played for the team for over 20 years, amassing over 3,000 hits, 1,844 home runs, and 414 stolen bases. He managed to win a Gold Glove award after making the difficult transition from catcher to second base Many Astros fans made the trip to Cooperstown to see him inducted. It was his third time on the ballot.
Randy Johnson is best known for his great height – six-foot eleven – and his great pitching endurance. He threw 140 pitches or more in a game an incredible 42 times. The first time ballot candidate was also known for his wild All-Star game pitches; he twice threw the ball over someone’s head. His biggest moment, however, was his performance in the 2001 World Series when he emerged from the bullpen to give the Arizona Diamondbacks their first series win. It wasn’t the first time he’d done that, either. In 1995 he emerged from the bullpen to take the Seattle Mariners to a win against the Yankees to clinch the division title.
Unlike the other three players inducted, John Smoltz’s path to the Hall of Fame was anything but straightforward. He was traded to the Braves in 1987 and became one of the four legendary pitchers that helped the Braves dominate the National League for most of the 90s. He is the only pitcher in MLB history to have both 200 wins and 100 saves; after several years starting for the Braves he switched to the bullpen and became an equally dominating closer.
Pedro Martinez treated his induction to the Hall like a party, dancing on stage and encouraging his fans from the Dominican Republic screaming his name. He is only the second Dominican player to enter the Hall, after Juan Marichal. Despite pitching only 2,827 and a third innings, he amassed 3,154 strikeouts.
While they might not have had much in common, the four greats entering the Hall have well earned it.
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