Three skippers to Cooperstown

That's part of the reason Cox's players loved him so much -- because he kept the rules to a minimum, treated them like men and went to great lengths to protect them for public consumption. Cox was comfortable riding a bus and painfully averse to throwing his players under it. In the aftermath of Cox's Hall of Fame election Monday, Glavine tweeted that Cox was "the best" and said he was "so proud to have played for you."

Cox was quick to reciprocate. He recalled how Glavine was 42 years old and 22 years into his career before he made his first trip to the disabled list, and remembered Maddux getting hit by a line drive in the foot during his final spring training start in 2001. Maddux removed his shoe to reveal a split toe that would require stitches to repair but lobbied Cox to bump him to the back of the rotation rather than put him on the disabled list. In his first start of the season, Maddux threw five shutout innings against the Florida Marlins.

"You talk about big-game pitchers at the right time," Cox said. "If you were in a losing streak and you had Maddux or Glavine going, you always felt you were gonna win. And you're talking about two of the greatest competitors ever."

If there was a reason to lament the expansion era committee's selections, it was the decision to stop at three. Marvin Miller, the late players' association leader and the most troubling omission from the Hall, was among a group of candidates who failed to receive more than six votes from the 16-member committee (with 12 votes necessary for induction). Former MLBPA executive director Donald Fehr called it a "sad and sorry state of affairs" that Miller is still on the outside, and he's correct. Baseball observers who view the big picture and value Miller's contribution as a transformative figure can only hope that someday, the Hall does the right thing and elects him posthumously. The shrine in Cooperstown will never be truly complete without him.

Nevertheless, it can't be argued that Cox, La Russa and Torre all do belong. The three skippers just looked right sitting on the podium Monday morning as a class.

"It would have felt somewhat empty, in my case, if one of these two guys was left out," Torre said.

The bonus for Cox will come this summer, when he enters the Hall of Fame accompanied by two of the arms that helped carry him to Cooperstown.

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