John Smoltz's Jersey Retirement a Reminder of How Fortunate Braves Fans Were

Justin JanssenCorrespondent IIIApril 16, 2012

NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 12:  John Smoltz #29 of the Atlanta Braves throws a pitch against the New York Mets during their game on September 12, 2007 at Shea Stadium in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

When John Smoltz's No. 29 jersey is retired this June, the Atlanta Braves will have retired four jerseys in the past four seasons.

Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Bobby Cox each had their numbers retired in similar ceremonies
as Smoltz. Chipper Jones will probably have his jersey retired next season, running the count to five jerseys in five years.

To have your number retired means you did something special. Atlanta will have five once Smoltz and Jones' ceremonies occur.

Smoltz's jersey retirement is another reminder to Braves fans about how fortunate they were to root for such a dominate team for so many years.

There needs to be a video with the Braves' “one shining moment” during the era, akin to the one CBS does for the NCAA Tournament each year.

Three Cy Young winning pitchers threw for the same staff. Maddux won four, three with
Atlanta, Glavine two and Smoltz one.

Smoltz’s story is a little different than the two 300-game-winners.

Smoltz suffered injury problems in the 1998 and 1999 seasons and eventually underwent Tommy John surgery, missing the entire 2000 season.

Then he moved into the bullpen when he flourished right away, saving 144 games in a three-year stretch before eventually moving back to the starting rotation.

Smoltz remains the only player in MLB history with at least 200 wins and 150 saves.

Their manager won over 2,000 games in his career, and he fought for his players, at the dismay of umpires across the league. Cox truly cared for each and every one of his players, making them feel like they had a good day even after a rough outing.

Fourteen consecutive division titles from 1991 to 2005 is no small feat. Sure, the Braves only won one World Series during that span, but every season during that stretch they had a chance.

The best team doesn't always end up winning the World Series. For reference look at the Florida Marlins (1997, 2003) and the St. Louis Cardinals (2012).

That era of baseball captivated audiences in the southeast creating "Braves Nation" with TBS airing Braves games.

Do you remember when Sid slid? When the Braves went from last place in 1990 to winning the
pennant the very next year? How about Glavine's series-clinching, one-hit masterpiece in 1995? Or the epic comeback to overtake the San Francisco Giants in 1993?

Granted, I was too young at the time to actually recall these memorable moments firsthand, but for the Braves fans that were old enough, these were moments they will cherish forever.

The unpopular departures of the Cy Young trio certainly do not tarnish their legacies with the team, and the moves were just the nature of the business.

It sure would have been nice if after 18 years with the Braves, Smoltz could have closed his
career with the team who traded for him famously for Doyle Alexander.

Smoltz was a great player, and on June 8th, he will be recognized.