Photo credit: National Baseball Hall of Fame Library

John Smoltz

John Andrew Smoltz
Inducted to the Hall of Fame in: 2015
Connection to Michigan: Waverly High School
Primary position: Pitcher

Born in Detroit, John Smoltz attended Lansing Catholic Central High School as a freshman before moving to Waverly High School. In his most memorable prep moment, he won the 1985 Diamond Classic, 4-3, with a walk-off home run off of Lansing Sexton High School at Municipal Park.

Smoltz was drafted by the Tigers in the 22nd round of the 1985 draft, turning down a scholarship offer to Michigan State University. He made his professional debut in the Florida State League with Lakeland in 1986 before opening the 1987 season with Double-A Glens Falls. The right-hander made 21 starts in the Eastern League before he was unexpectedly traded to the Atlanta Braves for Doyle Alexander on August 12, 1987.

The next season, Smoltz broke through, going 10-5 with a 2.79 ERA for Triple-A Richmond and earning a ticket to the Major Leagues at the ripe old age of 21. He found his niche quickly in Atlanta, winning two games in the 1991 NLCS and matching zeroes with Jack Morris into the eighth inning of Game 7 of the 1991 World Series.

That was the first of five trips to the World Series for Smoltz, joining Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine in a vaunted Atlanta starting rotation that rates among the best in baseball history. When forced to convert to relief work, Smoltz excelled, leading the Major Leagues with 55 saves in 2002.

In all, Smoltz won 213 games and posted 154 saves in 21 seasons, earning eight All-Star nods, the 1996 National League Cy Young Award, and the 1997 Silver Slugger Award as the N.L’s top hitting pitcher. He made 41 additional appearances in the postseason, 27 starts, going 15-4 with a 2.67 ERA in the most important games of the year.

Smoltz was elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2015.

Copyright © 2018. Michigan Baseball Hall of Fame.