NEW YORK – Greg Maddux could break a 22-year-old record Wednesday, though he won't become the first unanimous selection in the history of the baseball writers' Hall of Fame ballot.
When Tom Seaver received 425 of 430 votes in 1992, his 98.84 percentage topped the mark set by Ty Cobb in 1936. A dominant pitcher when offense ruled in the Steroids Era, Maddux has a chance to enter Cooperstown with a little extra bit of fame.
"I just have never come across any human being, whether they're a voter or just a fan, that doesn't think Greg Maddux is a Hall of Famer and one of the greatest pitchers who ever pitched," the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo said Tuesday. "I can't imagine someone not voting for him. So I would guess that he's going to break Seaver's record."
Maddux is among three high-profile players on the Baseball Writers' Association of America ballot for the first time, joined by former Atlanta Braves teammate Tom Glavine and Chicago White Sox slugger Frank Thomas.
Holdovers include Craig Biggio, who topped voting at 68 percent last year, 39 votes short of the 75 percent needed for election. It was only the second time in 4 decades the BBWAA failed to elect anyone.
Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, a former reporter for the Los Angeles Herald Examiner, said Tuesday the only player he voted for was Jack Morris, on the writers' ballot for the 15th and final time after falling 42 votes shy last year.
"To me, I didn't exclude Maddux. I excluded everybody from that era, everybody from the Steroid Era," Gurnick said. "It wasn't about Greg Maddux, it was about the entire era. I just don't know who did and who didn't."
Gurnick said Morris also was the only player he voted for in 2013, and added he intends to abstain in future elections.
"Some people quibble over when the era starts, but the bulk of his career was in my opinion well before all of the widespread use of performance-enhancing drugs," Gurnick said of Morris.
Given that 569 ballots were submitted in 2013, Maddux likely could be omitted from six this year and still break Seaver's record.
Back in 1992, Seaver was left off by Paul Hagen of the Philadelphia Daily News, Bob Hertzel of The Pittsburgh Press, and freelance writer Bob Hunter. They all submitted blank ballots to protest the decision by the Hall of Fame board of directors to bar Pete Rose from the vote because of his lifetime ban from baseball following a gambling probe.
Retired writers Deane McGowen and Bud Tucker also did not vote for Seaver.
"If it had cost Seaver anything, yeah, I probably would regret it at some level, but it didn't really cost him anything," Hagen, now with MLB.com, said Tuesday. "He still got the highest vote [percentage] total ever, and he wouldn't have been unanimous anyway."
Eighth on the wins list with a 355-227 record and a 3.16 ERA over 23 seasons, Maddux won four consecutive Cy Young Awards from 1992-95 and a record 18 Gold Gloves with the Chicago Cubs, Atlanta, the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego. An eight-time All-Star, he won at least 13 games in 20 straight seasons.
Among pitchers with 3,000 innings whose careers began in 1921 or later – after the Dead Ball Era – Maddux's 1.80 walks per nine innings is second only to Robin Roberts' 1.73, according to STATS.
Glavine, a 10-time All-Star and a two-time Cy Young winner, was 305-203 over 22 seasons. At the induction ceremony in Cooperstown on July 27, Maddux and Glavine figure to join their former manager Bobby Cox, elected last month by the expansion-era committee along with Joe Torre and Tony La Russa.
A two-time AL MVP, Thomas hit .301 with 521 homers and 1,704 RBIs in 19 seasons with the White Sox, Toronto and Oakland.