A new number going up in left field at Braves stadiumIf you go to Turner Field, home of the Atlanta Braves, and gaze out at the stadium facade in left field, you see numbers 42, 21, 44, 41, 3, 35, 31, 47 and 6. Friday night, another number will be unveiled on that facade — 29.
What’s with the numbers? These are numbers that have been retired by the Atlanta Braves, recognizing outstanding players and a manager. Jackie Robinson (42) was the first black player in the Major Leagues. All big league stadiums proudly display this salute to this baseball pioneer.
The other numbers represent the best of the Braves while they were in Boston, Milwaukee and Atlanta. The names correspond to the numbers: Warren Spahn (21), Eddie Mathews (41), Henry Aaron (44), Dale Murphy (3), Phil Niekro (15), Greg Maddux (31), Tom Glavine (47) and Bobby Cox (6).
The new kid on the block will be John Smoltz (29). Smoltz is one of the greatest righthand pitchers in Braves’ history, and he will have his number retired before the 7:35 p.m. Friday game against the Toronto Blue Jays.
What a trio of great pitchers. It’s only a matter of time before all will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
The Braves earlier retired the numbers and had games honoring Maddux and Glavine, both 300-game winners. Friday will be Smoltz’ day. A day he well deserves.
Smoltz was traded to the Braves in the late 1980s as a youngster. His career as a starter and relief pitcher was one of the most impressive in baseball history. He won 210 games for the Braves. He was moved from the starting rotation to the bullpen and became the game’s dominant closing pitcher with 154 saves.
Smoltz is the only pitcher to have more than 200 career wins and more than 154 career saves. Had he been a starting pitcher throughout his career, he could have won 300 games or more.
All Braves fans are looking forward to the night honoring Smoltz, and the great pitcher also is looking forward to the evening.
“I bleed the uniform that I wore and hope that I honored it the best way I could,” said Smoltz.
Indeed, John Smoltz honored the Braves uniform. The big righthander, along with Maddux, Glavine and their manager Cox, had an incredible run for nearly two decades.
It will be great to see number 29 on display in left field at Turner Field.