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updated: 7/28/2014 7:44 PM

Hall of Famer Gibson appreciates Big Frank

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  • Hall of Famer Bob Gibson had words of praise for newly enshrined Frank Thomas, here holding his plaque during Sunday's induction ceremony, saying he wonders how he would have pitched to the White Sox great.

      Hall of Famer Bob Gibson had words of praise for newly enshrined Frank Thomas, here holding his plaque during Sunday's induction ceremony, saying he wonders how he would have pitched to the White Sox great.
    Associated Press

 
 

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- Bob Gibson still loves watching baseball.

At least, he likes watching good baseball and great baseball players, and he said he spent a lot of time studying the approach of Frank Thomas.

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"I see the games and I like to watch pitchers and hitters," Gibson said. "I like to see pitchers who can pitch and I like to see hitters who can think, and I used to watch Frank Thomas and wonder how I would go after him."

As with most Hall of Fame pitchers, Gibson was not the type to give in during a tough situation, but Thomas' looked at an at-bat the same way.

"There's certain hitters who can spit on a pitch and say that's a ball, and if he says it's a ball it's a ball," Gibson said of Thomas. "His eye was that good. He said, 'If it's not my pitch, then I'm not swinging.' He would take a walk. Frustrating for the pitcher.

"I think we would have had some great battles. I would have enjoyed that. He's certainly one of the greatest right-handed hitters this game has ever seen."

The numbers

The Hall of Fame is now comprised of 306 elected members, including 211 former major-league players, 28 executives, 35 Negro Leaguers, 22 managers and 10 umpires.

The writers have voted in 115 players and the many different veterans committees have added 165 (96 major-leaguers, 28 executives, 22 managers, 10 umpires and nine Negro leaguers). The defunct "Committee on Negro Baseball Leagues" selected nine men between 1971-77, and the Special Committee on Negro Leagues in 2006 elected 17.

There are currently 66 living members, and 55 attended the weekend's festivities.

One-timers

The election of Frank Thomas, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine marks just the third time the BBWAA has elected three first-year candidates in one election. The other two times were George Brett, Nolan Ryan and Robin Yount in 1999, and the inaugural election of 1936, when five first-time eligible candidates were elected.

It was the eighth time in 70 elections that the BBWAA has elected three candidates in one year.

90 percent club

Greg Maddux (97.2) and Tom Glavine (91.9) are the first pair of Hall of Fame classmates to record voting percentages in the 90s since Cal Ripken Jr. (98.5) and Tony Gwynn (97.6) in 2007.

Looking ahead

Among the first-time eligibles in 2015 are Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz; in 2016 Ken Griffey Jr. and Trevor Hoffman; in 2017 Ivan Rodriguez; and in 2018 Chipper Jones and Jim Thome.

Griffey will become the first No. 1 overall pick to be elected. Thus far, the highest pick in the Hall of Fame is Reggie Jackson, the No. 2 selection by Oakland out of Arizona State in 1966 and elected in 1993 (93.6 percent).

Name-dropping

Steve Stone got a mention from Bobby Cox in the opening moments of his speech Sunday as Cox told a story about going unrecognized at an Arizona Fall League game while sitting with Stone.

After Stone introduced Cox, the fan said, "Yeah, I know you. You're that guy from Atlanta that gets thrown out all the time, right?"

One regret

Tom Glavine said there was only one thing he didn't like about his speech Sunday.

"If I had more time, I would have talked about how much fun I had playing the game," Glavine said. "I really loved playing the game."

New members

Tony La Russa, after his Hall of Fame induction: "I feel more at peace with being here. Still not comfortable being around all these great players, but more at peace."

Team hotel

Greg Maddux said there was one part of the weekend he really enjoyed.

"It was pretty cool running into Johnny Bench and Tony Perez and Tom Seaver," he said. "I was a Reds fan growing up, so that's a big deal for me."

The quote

Joe Torre on the late Don Zimmer as his bench coach in New York: "Sitting next to me, he made me the manager I was. He had more guts than I had and got me off the conservative platform."

And finally …

Hank Aaron on the three people he'd have dinner with if given the chance: "My mom, my dad and Dr. (Martin Luther) King."

brozner@dailyherald.com

• Listen to Barry Rozner from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on the Score's "Hit and Run" show at WSCR 670-AM.

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