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Former Blue Jays DH Thomas makes Hall of Fame

Slugger hit 500th career home run while playing for Toronto from 2007-08

TORONTO -- Former Blue Jays designated hitter Frank Thomas is headed to the National Baseball Hall of Fame after he was elected on the first ballot by the Baseball Writers' Association of America on Wednesday afternoon.

Thomas will be officially inducted into the Hall of Fame this summer in Cooperstown, N.Y., alongside former Braves starters Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine. It marks just the second time since 1936 that three players have been elected during their first year of eligibility.

The 45-year-old Thomas received 478 votes (83.7 percent) in the 571 ballots that were submitted by members of the BBWAA. That was more than enough to surpass the 75 percent required to gain entry into baseball's shrine.

"This has been a stressful 48 hours. I am so excited that I'm in the Hall of Fame," Thomas said. "This is something that I will have to sit back in the next three or four days and figure it out, because you can only dream so big, and this is as big as it gets for me.

"I'm a Georgia kid. Going in with Glavine, Maddux and Bobby Cox means a lot to me. The whole state of Georgia is going to be there, and I am just so blessed that I'll be able to be there with these guys."

Thomas' tenure in Toronto was brief, but it did include a piece of history. During his first season with the Blue Jays, Thomas recorded the 500th home run of his career in a game against the Twins on June 28, 2007.

The pursuit of 500 homers was well documented during his short stint in Toronto. At the time, only 20 players had ever accomplished the feat, and it seemed to secure his spot in the Hall of Fame when combined with his career average of .301, an impressive .419 on-base percentage and .974 OPS.

Thomas departed the Blue Jays the following season, but he ended up playing 19 years in the big leagues. He becomes the first player to be inducted into the Hall of Fame with the majority of his starts coming as a designated hitter. Paul Molitor previously had the highest percentage of games played at DH amongst Hall of Famers with 44 percent, but Thomas now eclipses that mark with a 56.4.

"The Blue Jays are very happy for Frank Thomas, who today was elected to the Hall of Fame," Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos said in a statement to "We will not forget watching him collect home run No. 500 as a member of our club. My congratulations go out to Frank on a well-deserved honor."

It was a historic day for Thomas, but the same can't be said for Jack Morris. The former Blue Jays starting pitcher received just 61.5 percent of the vote in his 15th -- and final -- time on the Hall of Fame ballot. Morris' only chance for gaining entry is to now be elected by the Expansion Era Committee.

Morris' bid for the Hall reached its peak last year when he received 67.7 percent of the vote. He appeared to be gaining some momentum with a lot of supporters coming forward to make his case, but in the end he ran out of time and saw a drop in votes during his final year of eligibility.

The 58-year-old Morris spent the 2013 season as a Blue Jays color commentator on Sportsnet The Fan590. Similar to Thomas, Morris' tenure with the Blue Jays was brief, but it did include a Major League-leading 21 wins during Toronto's 1992 run to the World Series.

The case for Morris was built around his 175 career complete games and a total of 3,824 innings at the big league level. But there were also plenty of detractors who pointed to a career ERA of 3.90 and a low strikeout total as reasons why he shouldn't receive an induction.

"Seventy-five percent is not an easy thing, especially when the numbers of writers and candidates keep growing," Morris said. "Many of those writers are sabermetricians, who don't really have knowledgeable eyes. And plus, I'm getting more and more removed from this current generation. They didn't see me. They didn't know what I was about."

Other former Blue Jays players who received Hall of Fame votes on Wednesday included: Roger Clemens (35.4 percent), Jeff Kent (15.2 percent) and Fred McGriff (11.7 percent). Former Expos greats Tim Raines (46.1 percent) and Larry Walker (10.2) also received votes.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB.

Toronto Blue Jays, Frank Thomas