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John Smoltz salutes the Atlanta fans after throwing 3,000th strikeout from 2008: Photo/ AJC
It’s hard to remember how the days were before the Braves turned around their pitching staff. Well, actually it’s not really that hard to remember. I remember turning a game on when Braves baseball was the only baseball on TBS, and that was the Braves station. At the old Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, when you could actually count the number of fans in the stadium. Well, no, not really, but it seemed that way because the team would only draw a couple thousand a game. But those days are long and gone, thanks to an awesome coaching staff and the Braves pitching trio. Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine are already members of the Braves Hall of Fame, and now the last of the trio, John Smoltz, is to be entered in the Braves Hall of Fame tonight at Turner Field, just before the Braves take on the Toronto Blue Jays in interleague action.
So I wonder if the Detroit Tigers regret the trade they made with the Braves back in 1988 when they traded John Smoltz to the Atlanta Braves for Doyle Alexander. Alexander never really panned out for motown. But the flame thrower Smoltz went on to pitch for 20 years for the team in Dixie where he compiled a record of 210-147 with an era of 3.26. I’m not really going to count the 2009 season where he ended his career with the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals. And from 2001-2004 he compiled 154 saves as he was moved to closer those years. What’s note worthy was his 55 saves in 2002.
As it was with Maddux and Glavine, it is going to be an awesome sight to see the number 29 unveiled down the left field line. Smoltz is the last of the Braves pitching greats that helped turned an organization around from last to first. This also helped turn a city that didn’t have a sports identity into a baseball town. Present day, when you think of Atlanta, you think of the Braves. And when you think of Braves baseball, you think of Maddux, Glavine, and SMOLTZ.
Mark A. Kirkley: twitter @makirkley
Don’t forget to follow me on twitter @makirkley.