Hall of Famers on top of the world in New York
Maddux, Glavine, Thomas visit Empire State Building as part of celebratory day
NEW YORK -- Tom Glavine has taken the hill in the World Series, but he's never done an interview at the top of a skyscraper before. Glavine and his Hall of Fame peers Frank Thomas and Greg Maddux visited the top of the Empire State Building on Thursday as part of their celebration tour.
The trio, all voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday, conducted a whirlwind tour of Manhattan on Thursday. First, they staged a press conference at the venerable Waldorf Astoria hotel, and then they headed to one of the greatest landmarks in The City That Never Sleeps.
"It's pretty impressive up here. I'm not a big heights guy, to be honest with you, but it's hard to come up here and not be impressed with the view," said Glavine from the building's observation deck. "If there's a better view anywhere in this city, you'd be hard pressed to find it. This is pretty cool."
The three Hall of Famers took turns posing against the east side of the skyline for around 10 minutes Thursday, and then they took a few questions for their second press tour of the day. All three said that the day had been overwhelming and that they were thrilled to experience it together.
"It's part of that baseball fraternity," said Glavine of his classmates. "You might not see somebody for a while, but when you do, it's like it was yesterday. You're telling the stories and rehashing things that happened. That's been fun with Greg, and from Frank's standpoint, I only know him from competing against him and certainly from watching him play. It's been good to get to know him and his wife. I'm honored to be going in with these guys. Two good guys, two class guys on and off the field."
"And they're good people," added Maddux. "We've had fun the last day or two, just kind of joking around and killing time. I was fortunate enough to play with Glav for half of my career in Atlanta, and I got to know Frank a little bit when we had those crosstown classics going on in the Chicago days."
Thomas, who will turn 46 in May, learned Thursday that he's now the youngest living Hall of Famer, a status he'll likely be able to tease his peers about for a half-decade or so. For now, though, Thomas just seemed humbled and overjoyed to have been elected to Cooperstown on his first ballot.
"This is as far as I've ever been up before. This is my first trip to the Empire State Building," he said. "I feel a little light-headed, actually. But I'm happy here. This has been an overwhelming 24 hours. Getting voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame is amazing. I think I need two days off just to reflect a little bit."
Now, after the fanfare dies down, the players will be left with their families and their reflections. They have half a year to collect their thoughts and to put them on paper, to document the people they most want to thank and the stories they most want to tell from their two-decade trip to the mountaintop.
Glavine and Thomas touched on that process Thursday, and they said a lot of thought would go into making their speeches.
"You have to think about all the coaches and friends and family members who have meant so much to you over the years," said Thomas. "You don't want to exclude anyone, but I'm sure there will be a few misses, a few slips. That's what I'm worried about right now."
And what about his emotions? Thomas was ebullient and effusive Thursday, but will he be able to keep himself from crying when he gets through his induction speech in Cooperstown?
"I don't know about that," he said. "I'm an emotional guy. I wear my heart on my sleeve. Having that type of situation with fans being there in droves -- I'm expecting it's probably going to be a record turnout because of the size of the class -- it's something that could be touching for all of us."
It won't just be Glavine, Maddux and Thomas at the induction ceremonies, which will take place in Cooperstown from July 25 through 28. Managers Joe Torre, Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa will also be inducted this summer, giving the Hall of Fame a banner celebration to plan and execute.
Glavine, Maddux and Thomas -- the first trio of first-ballot candidates elected since 1999 -- will bring new energy to the Hall of Fame, and they're looking forward to their moment in the sun. Thursday, by contrast, was just a day to wake up and savor the view from the top of the world.
With that day in the books, life can go back to normal. But only for a little while. Each of these men is looking forward to his moment at the podium in Cooperstown, a chance to feel the love of the entire baseball world and to thank his loved ones for all the sacrifices they've made along the way.
"I hope so, but I'm not making any guarantees," said Glavine on whether he'll complete his speech without getting emotional. "For me, when I look back on my career, inevitably you reflect on the people who were around you and what they meant to you in terms of their support in your success. When you do that, you start talking about Mom and Dad, and you start talking about your wife and your kids. It's hard not to [get emotional], because those guys all make sacrifices along the way. It's hard not to get a little emotional when you really start looking back at what it meant to have that support. It makes it so much easier for us as ballplayers to have that, and too often it doesn't get enough credit."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.