On Monday, Atlanta Braves great John Smoltz turned 50 years old. There's no better way to celebrate the Hall of Famer's life than with some of the best moments of his career. Here are five of the best John Smoltz moments of his memorable tenure dominating the league.
5. Hall of Fame Induction
Smoltz was a first ballot Hall of Fame inductee, garnering 82.9 percent of the vote. It was a worthy honor for the pitcher who went to eight All-Star Games, won both the Rolaids Relief Man of the Year and NL Cy Young Award, and has a good sense of humor about his hair.
4. 3,000th Strikeout
On April 22, 2008, Smoltz struck out Felipe Lopez of the Washington Nationals to record his 3,000th career strikeout, becoming the 16th pitcher to ever do so. He would only record 11 more with the Braves, but he still holds the franchise record with 3,011 strikeouts.
3. NL Single Season Saves Record
Smoltz is arguably the best pitcher to serve as both a starter and a closer during his career. During his relief era, he managed to record 55 saves in 2002, breaking the NL record with his 54th save on September 27. The record would be matched by Eric Gagne a year later.
2. 200th Win
More on that ace/closer ability: on May 24, 2007, Smoltz threw seven shutout innings against the New York Mets, who threw former teammate Tom Glavine on the mound. The 2-1 victory gave Smoltz his 200th win, making him (still) the only pitcher to record 200 wins and 150 saves in a career. That may never be matched again.
1. NLCS Hero
The most important performance of John Smoltz's career came in Game 7 of the 1991 NLCS. He pitched a complete game shutout against the Pittsburgh Pirates, which sent the Braves to the World Series. He wouldn't go on to win the World Series until 1995, though, because he ran into Jack Morris in the 1991 World Series Game 7, one of the greatest pitching duels in baseball history.