The John Smoltz Interview (Part 2)

Major League legend John Smoltz stopped by Coolray Field on Friday, May 25 to sign his book Starting and Closing, then threw out the first pitch of the game between the Gwinnett Braves and Rochester Red Wings.

All in all, it was a wonderful experience for all those involved as over 7,000 thrilled fans crossed through the gates in Lawrenceville. I was able to sit down and chat with Smoltz once all the commotion settled down and his book signing concluded. Here is what he had to say in part 2 of our 3-part interview…

Photo courtesy of Leslie Watts

The main focus of his book, Starting and Closing:

“A competitive balance is what we all strive for, but more importantly I played with and seen so many great athletes literally have exactly what I’m talking about in the book. The fear of failure and the not ability to get out of their comfort zone. They have been given a measure of talent and yet the fear of failing has caused them to not be as good as they can be,” said Smoltz. “I also wanted to talk to the business world, teachers, you name it, whatever field…to dare to be great to get outside your comfort zone you have to experience some tension and that tension is going to cause you to either walk away from what you’re doing or move forward towards it (your goals). I’m trying to get people to understand how they can move toward it.”

Photo courtesy of Leslie Watts

The place where his competitive balance derived from: 

“I don’t care what it is, I don’t care what arm angle. I was willing to use something immediately and failure could happen and that wasn’t going to stop me from going right out and becoming better,” said Smoltz. “My dad was very competitive. I always believe you should be your best no matter what the issue’s are. I didn’t care if it was a pick-up game. I didn’t care if I was by myself throwing a baseball against a wall, I was always putting myself in a position to be successful.”

On Coolray Field:

“I wish this place (Coolray Field) was here when I was rehabbing. Golly, would that have saved a lot of heartache,” said Smoltz. “I feel in a small way, Elvis has come back. Wherever you go, you have that many people fired up to get a book signed. Their moment of waiting an hour to get a book signed is unreal.”

Photo courtesy of Leslie Watts

On the Atlanta Braves of the 1990’s & their 1995 World Series team: 

“My generation of people that grew up watching us, that are having kids now, need to explain to them what we did,” said Smoltz. “It’s unique to see that. It’s either the older people that loved, lived, died and breathed baseball or it’s the newer generation that’s having kids explaining, ‘that guy was pretty good…Maddux and Glavine.’ So it’s good. It’s neat.”

Photo courtesy of Leslie Watts

The Atlanta Braves right-hander was one of the greatest pitchers in his era amidst the 20th and 21st century. Smoltz is the only player in Major League history to record a 50-save and 20-win season respectively. The living legend won 24 games in 1996 as a starting pitcher and saved 55 games as a closer in 2002.

John Smoltz defies the word retirement, as he remains possibly busier after baseball than during. The Atlanta legend stopped by Coolray Field on Friday, May 25 to sign his book Starting and Closing, amidst his nationwide book signing tour. Then, the Atlanta Braves honored him by retiring his No. 29 at Turner Field on Friday, June 8 before the Braves opposed the Toronto Blue Jays in front of a packed house. Not to mention, Smoltz also squeezes in a broadcast for TBS every Sunday. He obviously didn’t get the memo on the meaning of retirement.

By: Tony Piraro

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