ATLANTA -- Former Hall of Fame pitcher and current Braves broadcaster Don Sutton spent Wednesday morning playing golf in California on a course with strict no-cellphone rules. But he gladly risked a $100 fine to keep his phone in his back pocket for the vibrating text message he got just after 11 a.m. Pacific time that Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine had been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
"I think this is a validation of what they are as people and as pitchers," Sutton said. "And I couldn't be happier."
The former Braves pitchers join former Chicago White Sox first baseman and designated hitter Frank Thomas, a Georgia native, as the members of the 2014 class voted in by the Baseball Writers Association of America.
"They're as deserving as anybody I've ever been around, and certainly Frank Thomas is, too," Sutton said. "But I think for Greg and Tom, I'm almost as happy for them as I was for myself because I got to watch almost all of Tom's performances, and watch him from the time he was a kid, and I got to watch Maddux at his heyday. So I consider myself lucky to have been able to broadcast their greatness."
Sutton said he ducked behind a tree to pull out his phone and call both Maddux and Glavine, leaving congratulatory voice-mail messages, one Hall of Famer to another. Sutton was inducted in 1998, after winning 324 games over 23 seasons, primarily with the Dodgers.
"I could not be happier for any of the people I've ever been around to welcome into the Hall of Fame," Sutton said. "We are lucky to have those two guys in there."
Knuckleballer Phil Niekro, a 318-game winner, was the last Brave to be inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1997. Until Wednesday, he and Hank Aaron were the only players in the Hall of Fame who had spent more than three seasons with the Atlanta Braves.
"Me and Henry won't be so lonely up there anymore," said Niekro, who has made all but one induction weekend since his 1997 ceremony.
To have it be Maddux and Glavine is only fitting, Niekro said Wednesday, given their contributions to the Braves' unprecedented run of 14 consecutive division titles.
"Those guys and some other guys brought the Atlanta Braves to the map," Niekro said. "Everybody in the world realized who the Atlanta Braves were when those guys did what they did." Glavine and Maddux become the first two living 300-game winners to be inducted in the same class.
They also become the fifth set of "classmates" to be named on at least 90 percent of the ballots, joining the likes of Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Babe Ruth and Christy Mathewson (1936); Johnny Bench and Carl Yastrzemski (1989), Nolan Ryan and George Brett (1999) and Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken (2007).
"It is a great reward for both those guys for No. 1 being good, No. 2 looking for the edge and No. 3 working their butts off at their craft," Sutton said. "Their personalities were different. Greg Maddux is the smartest pitcher I was ever around and this is coming up 50 years in the big leagues. And Tom Glavine, I think, because our personalities are so similar, it was always fun to watch him, to think with him. I told him once when he was just a baby, 'I think you have the ability to win 200 ballgames.' I've been apologizing to him ever since." Glavine finished his career with 305 wins, 21st all-time, and Maddux with 355, eighth all-time.
Maddux and Glavine will be inducted July 27 in Cooperstown, N.Y., with their former Braves manager Bobby Cox, who was chosen by the Veterans Committee in December, along with former managers Joe Torre and Tony La Russa.
Sutton always makes a point to go to Cooperstown for induction weekends, but this time, he made his reservations early. Sutton said Hall of Famers usually get a notice about April 1. He reached out to the Cooperstown contact Dec. 20.
"She said, 'Wow that's the earliest we've ever had,'" Sutton said. "I said, 'Well I have a feeling it's going to be special, and I don't want to miss it.' And I think it's going to be special for all of us who are part of the Braves and are Braves fans. I just think it's going to be a part of what's going to be a magnificent summer for all of us."
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