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This Day in Georgia History

May 15, 1967

John Smoltz Born

Future Atlanta Braves pitching ace John Smoltz was born in Warren, Michigan. Smoltz was drafted by the Detriot Tigers in 1985; in 1987 the Tigers were in a playoff race and needed experienced pitching help, so they traded the young prospect Smoltz to Atlanta for pitcher Doyle Alexander. Smoltz made his debut for Atlanta on July 23 1988. “Smoltzie” then became one of the foundations of the Braves pitching staff (along with teammates Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine) throughout the 1990s and well into the 2000s. Smoltz pitched the winning game against the Pittsburg Pirates to send the “worst to first” Braves to the World Series in 1991. Smoltz, though very strong in the regular season, became a dominant post-season pitcher, claiming the Most Valuable Player award in the 1992 National League championship series. In 1996 Smoltz won the Cy Young Award as the National League’s top pitcher. He missed the 2000 season with arm surgery, then returned as a relief pitcher, where he also excelled, establishing the National League record for saves with 55 in 2002. Smoltz returned to starting pitching in 2005, and in 2008 became one of only sixteen pitchers in Major League history to reach the 3000 strikeout milestone. After brief stints pitching with the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals, Smoltz agreed to join the Braves broadcast team in 2010. He remains the only pitcher in Major League Baseball history to record over 200 wins as a starter and 150 saves as a relief pitcher.