randy johnson, pedro martinez and john smoltz are three superstar pitchers who dominated in an era of baseball offensive hitters. they were elected on tuesday into the 2015 hall-of-fame, along with craig biggio. it's the first time in 60 years writers selected four players in one year.
johnson, a five-time cy young award winner with 303 victories and 4,875 strikeouts, was selected on 534 of 549 ballots by veteran members of the baseball writers association of america (bbwaa). the big unit is widely regarded as the most intimidating left-hander ever, and his 97.3 percentage was the eighth highest in the history of voting.
"i don't think people quite understand how difficult it is to be 6-foot-10 and be throwing a ball 60 feet, 6 inches away. in order to do that, you have to be consistent with your release point and where you're landing and your arm slot and all that. for someone 6'1, 6'2, there's less body to keep under control and it's a lot easier," johnson said.
martinez, a three-time cy young award winner with 3,154 strikeouts, was on 500 ballots. slight but intense, the 5'11 master was 219-100, led the majors in era five times and helped the 2004 boston red sox win their first world series title in 86 years. martinez is now the second dominican hall-of-famer. san francisco giants pitcher juan marichal was elected in 1983.
"my body would change half an hour before the game, and i would just become this serious, focused person because my dad reminded me you've got to be serious about your job. i saw everybody as an enemy, and i saw everybody as like in a jungle: you just kill to survive. and that's the intensity and the focus i had to keep to do it every day on a day-to-day basis. and that's the kind of chip on the shoulder that people thought i had, even though that was my way to concentrate and do the day-to-day things that i did in baseball," martinez said.
smoltz was picked on 455 ballots. smoltz, the 1996 national cy young award winner, was 213-155 with 154 saves - the only pitcher in history with 200 wins and 150 saves. his brilliant postseason record was 15-4. smoltz said, "i realize the cloud has covered a multitude of so many different people, and i realize that the media and people have a hard time distinguishing and determining."
biggio appeared on 454 ballots, 42 more than the 75% needed, and up from 68.2% in his first time and 74.8% last year. biggio had 3,060 hits and 668 doubles in 20 years - all with the houston astros. he was a catcher who shifted to his perennial all-star position at second base and spent three years in the outfield. "i was a nervous dog this morning. i haven't been this anxious in a long time. maybe it does mean a little bit more this year," biggio said.
the humble and talented quartet will be inducted in cooperstown on july 26. the last time four players were voted in together by the bbwaa was in 1955. the honorees were joe dimaggio, gabby hartnett, ted lyons and dizzy vance.
- mark j. tuggle
- harlem, usa