Friday, July 17, 2009

Retiring No. 31

Greg Maddux is a guy I grew up watching. I, like the rest of the Braves on TBS generation, saw more Maddux wins on television than any other player in baseball. For a young baseball fan, watching Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz take the mound for Atlanta was like watching pure perfection.

Today the Atlanta Braves will honor Greg Maddux for his eleven year service to the franchise and all the winning that came with it by retiring his number, 31.

The Atlanta press release noted that the Braves will honor Greg Maddux today by "inducting him into the Braves Hall of Fame and retiring his uniform number. The induction will take place at the Braves Hall of Fame Luncheon at the Omni Hotel at the CNN Center during the day and the uniform number retirement will occur in a pre-game ceremony that night before the Braves take on the New York Mets." I can't think of a more deserving guy in baseball.

There's so much to point to in the career of Greg Maddux, this Nike commercial of the less serious highlights:

While with Atlanta, Greg Maddux had 194 wins, 1,828 strike outs and was a key part of the Braves 1995 World Series championship. And what he did in Atlanta he was able to do in L.A., Chicago, and San Diego. All in all, Maddux won a World Series, earned an unbelievable 18 Gold Gloves, won the National League Cy Young Award four consecutive years, was selected for the All-Star Game 8 times, won 355 games, and struck out a whopping 3,371 hitters. Maddux is now in the Braves franchise hall of fame and without question will be inducted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown.

Recently, Orel Hershiser referred to Chipper Jones as the "last soldier standing" in that amazing fourteen season run of division titles for the Braves and what I hope will happen today is that Chipper will be on hand, along with a lineup of Braves that grew up watching the genius that was Maddux on the mound, to truly honor a good and decent legend of the game.

Unfortunately, the franchise hasn't been as kind (as was deserved) to Tom Glavine and it remains to be seen what the Red Sox acquisition of John Smoltz will do to his chances of being recognized by the Braves. My guess is that when Smoltz retires we'll be having a similar ceremony for him--Maddux left Atlanta, too, and he's getting the ceremony he rightly deserves.

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