ATLANTA -- If there was any suspense surrounding Greg Maddux's candidacy as a first-ballot Hall of Famer, it died on Tuesday afternoon, when it was confirmed that he would not be the first player to gain election in unanimous fashion.
The only lingering question centered on the possibility that Maddux could gain a larger percentage of votes than any player in the history of Hall of Fame balloting.
Though he fell short of gaining this distinction, there was still a definite sense of excitement radiating from Maddux on Wednesday after he learned that he, his longtime Atlanta teammate Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas were elected by the Baseball Writers' Association of America to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame this summer.
"It's truly an honor and a privilege to be inducted to the Hall of Fame," Maddux said. "It's exciting for me to go in with my teammate Tom Glavine as well as Frank Thomas. I'm just looking forward to the experience down the road."
Maddux received votes on 97.2 percent of the 571 ballots cast by qualified BBWAA members. The total fell short of Tom Seaver's record 98.84 percent and ranks as the eighth-highest percentage ever garnered, also trailing Nolan Ryan, Cal Ripken, Ty Cobb, George Brett, Hank Aaron and Tony Gwynn.
Maddux is looking forward to sharing the Hall of Fame experience with Glavine, who was his teammate in Atlanta from 1993 to 2002, and his beloved former manager Bobby Cox, who gained a spot in the Class of 2014 through the Expansion Era Committee election held in December.
"As soon as Bobby got in, it was pretty special, because he was there for half of my career and taught me so much about the game," Maddux said. "I find myself passing on the things he taught me to the younger players in the game now."
Maddux, who serves as a special assistant to the Rangers, began his career with the Cubs in 1986 and joined the Braves before the 1993 season as a prized free-agent signing and the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner.
In Atlanta, Maddux was introduced to a rotation that already included Glavine and John Smoltz. One member of this trio won each of the NL Cy Young Awards presented from 1991-96, with Maddux winning four straight beginning in '92.
The names Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz are harmoniously etched in Braves lore. Unfortunately for Smoltz, his decision to play one season longer than his two teammates forces him to wait at least 12 more months before having the opportunity to be enshrined with Maddux and Glavine in Cooperstown.
"It's almost a fairy-tale ending," Maddux said. "The only thing that screwed it up was [that] Smoltzie waited and played one more year. It's just icing on the cake. It's going to be a special day, and I'm going to be able to spend it with special people."
With Smoltz serving as an analyst on MLB Network on Wednesday afternoon, Glavine and Maddux had a chance to share their excitement and some more laughs with their former teammate. During one of the lighthearted moments of the broadcast, Smoltz playfully pointed out that despite having more power than the other two, he was not selected to participate in Nike's "Chicks Dig the Long Ball" commercials featuring Glavine and Maddux.
Glavine's response? "Chicks dig the long ball, not the bald spot."
In addition to reminiscing about his time in Atlanta, Maddux spent time on Wednesday crediting former Cubs pitching coaches Dick Pole and Billy Connors for significantly influencing the early part of his career, which included the four Cy Young Awards and 355 wins -- the eighth most in Major League history and the second-highest total by any pitcher since 1930.
After winning his first Cy Young Award, in 1992, Maddux entered the free-agent market with a desire to stay in the NL. Before the Braves made their five-year, $28 million offer, there was some thought about him joining the Yankees, who reportedly were willing to make a more significant offer.
But instead of going with the Yanks, who had just completed their fourth consecutive losing season, Maddux was attracted to the opportunity to join the Braves, who had advanced to the World Series in each of the previous two years.
"The Braves, back then, I just felt were a much better team than the Yankees," he said. "Had I had a crystal ball, then, yeah, it would have been great to go to New York and win four World Series. But we did get one in Atlanta, in 1995. I wanted to stay in the National League, and I wanted the best chance to win."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com.