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John Smoltz

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John Andrew Smoltz

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[edit] Biographical Information

Pitcher John Smoltz was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 22nd round of the 1985 amateur draft. He was singed by scouts Bill Schudlich and Ken Madeja on September 22, 1985 and made his pro debut the next summer.

In 1987, Smoltz was traded by the Tigers to the Atlanta Braves for Doyle Alexander. This trade set the short term course for the Tigers and the long term course for the Braves. Alexander went 9-0 for the Tigers over the remainder of the 1987 season to lead them to the ALCS. The young Smoltz did not make his first major league appearance until the middle of the 1988 season, but has been a dominant pitcher since 1989, racking up an impressive 15-4 record in postseason games, among other feats.

He pitched opposite forkballer Jack Morris in what was considered by some to be the greatest World Series pitching duel of the modern era. In game 7 of the 1991 World Series, the two pitchers shut out their opponent for nine innings. Morris pitched a scoreless 10th inning as well and when a Gene Larkin pinch hit off reliever Alejandro Pena drove in Dan Gladden, the Twins won the game and the Series.

For a few seasons, Smoltz became the new Dennis Eckersley, as a formerly dominant starting pitcher who became an ace closer. This move was the result of an arm injury in 2001. After four seasons in the bullpen, though, he returned to the starting rotation in 2005 and seemingly picked up where he had left off, compiling seasons of 14, 16 and 14 wins in 2005-2007. He was the 1996 Cy Young Award winner as a starter, and the 2002 Rolaids Relief Award winner as a fireman. Lifetime, he has compiled over 200 victories and 150 saves, along with more than 3,000 strikeouts. He was the last member of the Big Three to pitch for the Braves.

In 2007, Smoltz was the recipient of the Branch Rickey Award, which is given to the major league personality who best demonstrates exemplary community service.

Smoltz became the Braves' all-time leader in strikeouts on August 19, 2007. He needed 5 strikeouts to pass Phil Niekro's mark of 2,912. He whiffed Mark Reynolds in the first inning, Justin Upton and Yusmeiro Petit in the second, Conor Jackson in the third and then Reynolds in the third to set the record. On the day, he set 12 down on strikes as part of a 6-2 victory.

On April 22, 2008, Smoltz whiffed Felipe Lopez for his 3,000th career strikeout. He was the 16th pitcher to reach that milestone. Only Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Nolan Ryan, Curt Schilling and Roger Clemens reached the figure in fewer innings.

Smoltz signed with the Boston Red Sox for 2009. After getting back to strength in the season's first months, he was activated on June 25 but struggled in his brief time with the team and was released in early Augustn after going 2-5, 8.33 in 8 starts. He was picked up by the St. Louis Cardinals and finished the season with the Redbirds, going 1-3, 4.26 in 7 starts. He made his last pitching appearance in the NLDS, giving up a run in two innings of relief against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Finding no takers for his services after the season, he opted to retire.

After retirement, Smoltz decided to take up his other passion - golf - in a serious way. He failed to qualify for a couple of PGA events in Georgia in 2010, but received an invitation to enter the South Georgia Classic in Valdosta, GA from April 28-May 1, 2011. He found out that professional golf is harder than it looks, however: he opened with an 84 on the first day, then shot 15 over par in the tournament's second round and failed to make the cut by a whopping 27 strokes, 9 worse than any other golfer left in the event.

In early 2012, the Braves announced that they would retire Smoltz's uniform number 29 at a ceremony before their game of June 8th. In 2014, Smoltz joined the FOX Network as an analyst paired with announcer Matt Vasgersian on Major League Baseball telecasts.

[edit] Notable Achievements

  • 8-time NL All-Star (1989, 1992, 1993, 1996, 2002, 2003, 2005 & 2007)
  • 1992 NLCS MVP
  • NL Cy Young Award Winner (1996)
  • NL Reliever of the Year Award Winner (2002)
  • NL Rolaids Relief Award Winner (2002)
  • NL Silver Slugger Award Winner (1997)
  • 2-time NL Wins Leader (1996 & 2006)
  • 2-time NL Winning Percentage Leader (1996 & 1998)
  • NL Saves Leader (2002)
  • 2-time NL Innings Pitched Leader (1996 & 1997)
  • 2-time NL Strikeouts Leader (1992 & 1996)
  • 15 Win Seasons: 6 (1992, 1993, 1996-1998 & 2006)
  • 20 Win Seasons: 1 (1996)
  • 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 10 (1989-1993, 1996, 1997 & 2005-2007)
  • 200 Strikeouts Seasons: 5 (1992, 1993, 1996, 1997 & 2006)
  • 30 Saves Seasons: 3 (2002, 2003 & 2004)
  • 40 Saves Seasons: 3 (2002, 2003 & 2004)
  • 50 Saves Seasons: 1 (2002)
  • Won a World Series with the Atlanta Braves in 1995


NL Cy Young Award
1995 1996 1997
Greg Maddux John Smoltz Pedro Martinez

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