For the first time in 17 years, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum's induction ceremony in Cooperstown will feature a plaque with a White Sox cap.
Frank Thomas sailed into the Hall of Fame on his first try, earning 83.7 percent of ballots cast by the Baseball Writers Association of America. While many other players got caught up in rampant steroid speculation and a game of musical chairs with the ballot's 10-player limit, the Big Hurt's resume stood out enough to become the first White Sox-first Hall of Famer since Nellie Fox was posthumously inducted in 1997.
Thomas won't go in alone, as the BBWAA pushed two other players across the 75-percent threshold. Greg Maddux led the way, but fell short of the record at 97.2 percent. He'll be joined by longtime teammate Tom Glavine (91.9 percent), making it the first time the BBWAA voted in three players in 15 years.
It could've been four, but Craig Biggio fell painfully short, earning 74.8 percent of the vote. That would've helped the logjam, since four outstanding players (Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, John Smoltz and Gary Sheffield) would have replaced four inductees. However, it's a massive improvement over last year, when the writers couldn't agree on anybody and the Hall had to try to drum up interest around the induction of three guys who all died before 1940.
This summer will be a different story. Besides the three players, the Veterans Committee gave the nod to Tony La Russa, Joe Torre and Bobby Cox. That's six living and instantly recognizable names, so Cooperstown could see a record-breaking crowd on induction weekend, which is July 25-28. Back in 2007, Cal Ripken Jr. and Tony Gwynn drew an estimated 75,000 fans to the village of 1,852. Book your hotels yesterday.