It's been a little strange over the past few seasons, seeing the 31 and the 47 without the 29. We all knew it was coming, but during the wait, simply put, it felt weird. All three of those numbers, and men, are inextricably linked. Now, all feels right at the Ted. John Smoltz is right where he should be. With the Braves legends.
I'm guessing that none of you are surprised that I was in attendance Friday night. There was no way I was missing it! The evening was a perfect bookend for the man I've watched pitch hundreds of times. It was the perfect way for Braves fans to say thank you. And, always the classy gentleman, in his speech John Smoltz thanked us, the fans, first.
It was great to see The Professor and he performed his master of ceremony duties wonderfully. John Schuerholz, Bobby Cox and Matt Diaz spoke, all speaking straight from the heart. Bobby told us what an honor it was to get to manage Smoltzie for all those years. And remember Braves fans, we owe Bobby an extra debt of gratitude for the being the architect of the trade that brought John to Atlanta. Matty, filling in for Chipper, was eloquent. What I loved most about Matty, was that the entire time he spoke, he turned away from the podium so that he was looking at John as he spoke for the players. It was so heartfelt!
The Braves always do things one way, classy. Friday was no exception. I'm hoping that at some point soon, they'll air a tv special from the Hall of Fame induction luncheon, just like they did for Tom Glavine. What I really wish (hint, hint) is that they'd put the entire pre-game ceremony video on the team's website. The Cardinals did that for Tony LaRussa's ceremony and it was really nice to watch. John Smoltz deserves the same.
I read an interview once, where John talked about being traded to the Braves. He said he was devastated. The team he grew up loving as child, the Detroit Tigers, the team he had dreamt of playing for, had traded him to a really, really, really bad team. In fact, the Atlanta Braves were god-awful. But as he made the drive to Richmond, he got his head in the right place. After all, there was nothing he could do to change the situation and maybe it wouldn't be as bad as it first seemed. Bad? It was anything but.
John, thank you for 20 wonderful years!