Former Atlanta Braves pitchers Tom Glavine, left, and Greg Maddux,...

Former Atlanta Braves pitchers Tom Glavine, left, and Greg Maddux, right, pose with Chicago White Sox slugger Frank Thomas after a press conference announcing their election to the 2014 Baseball Hall of Fame class. (Jan. 9, 2014) Credit: AP

What if they held a Hall of Fame induction ceremony and (almost) no one showed up?

That was nearly the case last year as no living inductees were honored as part of the Class of 2013 at the Baseball Hall of Fame. It was the first time that had happened since 1965.

Bob Gibson -- who attended last year's ceremonies honoring three posthumously elected Hall of Famers -- called it "kind of sad."

This year will be different -- very different. Gibson might call it "kind of awesome."

Six men will be inducted next Sunday as the Class of 2014: the managerial trio of Joe Torre, Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa, 300-game winners Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, and slugger Frank Thomas.

That's enough star power to light up the tiny village of Cooperstown. And it will, as more than 40,000 are expected to cram into the mythical birthplace of baseball for Hall of Fame weekend.

The Hall estimated last year's crowd at the induction ceremony as 2,500.

"Last year, for the community, was a little disappointing, not having any living inductees," said Matt Hazzard, the interim executive director of the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce. "This year, with there being six that are very prominent names, everybody's pretty excited about that. Hotel rooms have been sold out for quite a while. People are having to stay as far as an hour and a half away if they didn't make reservations too far in advance.''

For local fans, the highlight will be the induction of Torre, the four-time World Series champion with the Yankees.

Torre managed for 29 seasons, but it was his 12-year stint with the Yankees that turned him from "Clueless Joe" (in the words of one famous tabloid newspaper headline when he was hired in 1996) to a Hall of Famer.

"Let's admit it. I'm not sitting here if it wasn't for what happened with the Yankees," Torre said when he was elected. "There were some special, special people. You can't win the Kentucky Derby unless you're on a thoroughbred."

The managers were elected in December by the 16-member Expansion Era committee. The players were chosen a month later by the eligible members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. In 2013, the BBWAA elected no one.

Torre will be joined by La Russa, who managed for 33 seasons and won World Series titles with the A's (once) and Cardinals (twice), and Cox, a former Yankees third baseman who managed the Braves for 25 of his 29 seasons and won the World Series in 1995.

La Russa, Torre and Cox rank third through fifth in the all-time managerial win rankings. Cox's induction dovetails nicely with that of a pair of his former Braves aces.

Maddux and Glavine each pitched for other teams -- Glavine even earned his 300th victory as a Met -- but both are best remembered as part of Atlanta's top-notch pitching staff in the 1990s.

(The other member of that Atlanta trio, John Smoltz, just missed the party; he's eligible for election for the first time with the Class of 2015.)

Glavine will go into the Hall with a Braves logo on the cap of his plaque, but Maddux's plaque cap will be logo-less. Maddux said he and the Hall decided not to slight either the Braves or his first team, the Cubs, so his cap will have no team logo.

Thomas, who hit 521 home runs in a 19-year career, will have a White Sox logo on his cap. An outspoken critic of steroid users in baseball, Thomas is seen as one of the few "clean" sluggers of his era.

It was the steroid issue that led to last year's induction ceremony shutout.

Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens would have been shoo-ins for the Class of 2013 had their careers not been tainted by allegations of performance-enhancing drug use.

So without any living inductees, the Class of 2013 included former Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert, 19th-century player Deacon White and former umpire Hank O'Day. That trio was elected late in 2012 by the Pre-Integration Era Committee.

Besides Smoltz, next year's class could include first-timers Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson plus Long Island product Craig Biggio, who missed by two votes this year. So it should be another pretty big party.

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