Smoltz: Tom A True Pro

By Mark Hale, NY Post
Original article HERE.

John Smoltz, Tom Glavine's best friend in baseball, agreed to share his thoughts on his former teammate and 300-game winner with The Post.

"The biggest thing I learned over the years of watching many games and watching him go through tough times on and off the field, I gained a sense of workmanlike attitude that allowed him to be successful in any endeavor," Smoltz said. "He was the magician for awhile. He'd get out of jams. The Houdini. And then he was basically an artist the way he pinpointed everything and he just really mastered the art of pitching with what some people considered less than dominant stuff.

"And to see that time in and time again, you realized that it wasn't luck. It wasn't something that we scored a ton of runs for him or anything like that. He just flat out knew how to win and he wouldn't give in. And he wouldn't give in to the circumstances that most people would have given in to.

"I don't really know when I thought . . . he'd win 300 games. His ability to pitch hurt, his ability to keep pitching was probably the first thing I thought of.

"I think it was one of his Cy Young years. . . . He had a cracked rib. And a lot of people didn't know it. And he pitched through it. And he got his series of treatment and shots. And he pitched through it. And he took a lot of criticism for some of the games that he pitched. But nobody knew the extent of the injury. And he went about his business like it was no big deal. I think, if memory serves me well, that he won the Cy Young that year. But I know he won 20.

"I have two favorite memories. Obviously Game 6 of the [1995] World Series. You can't pitch any better than that. Win our only World Series championship. And then off the field, we have so many golf memories, but the one that takes the cake is his home course, par five and walking across what was a little stone wall across the creek. And the next thing I hear is this tremendous splash.

"Obviously I jerked my head around and I see one club up in the air above the water and he's totally submerged. He's gone in with two clubs and he came out with one. And he's soaking wet. We're all laughing [a ton]. And he comes out . . . walks across the fairway, changes clothes, hits the shot like nothing ever happened. And I couldn't get that sound out of my head every time I went to go swing. I heard that splash and it was absolutely hilarious. He did lose a club out of it, though.

"His stoic kind of personality may seem that he's unapproachable and that he's this stern guy that led the baseball players union and the strike. That to me I wish there was a way to undo so that he didn't have to bear some of that responsibility. Because that is not an accurate assessment. I think anyone who plays with him knows what you get as a teammate and how much he cares about the game and cares about people."