Sunday, July 27, 2014

This Years Baseball Hall of Fame Inductions: Our Connection

Mark Harmon and Me at Spring Training 2008
It's not very often when we are able to brag...or boast about or even share insight gained from years of covering now-legendary sports figures as they are about to get inducted into a "Hall-of-Fame".

Yet that is exactly what we...or precisely me gets to do today.

I got the pleasure/honor of covering my favorite baseball team (The Atlanta Braves) for 10-years. And before you ask: I was a Braves fan long before covering them. Growing up in Florida in a time before the Marlins and Rays, the Braves were the closest team to us.

Heck, the 1st Major League Baseball game I ever saw was a Braves game in Fulton County Stadium as a 10-year old.

And I got to spend a large chunk of my professional career reporting on them.

Oddly enough as I sit here on my Mac writing this, programming the DVR to record Sunday afternoons Baseball Hall of Fame ceremonies, I'm laughing at the idea of Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Bobby Cox getting enshrined.

Not because they aren't worthy, but because on the baseball field they were all remarkably similar.

((NOTE--For what it's worth, I've done stories with Joe Torre and Frank Thomas who are also being inducted, and both are the epitome of class people. Professionals with boat loads of talent and skill and honest to goodness real people))

This commercial is a classic:

For me and a lot of people I know, it's about the Braves this weekend--

Tom Glavine--The ultimate professional. The go-to guy in the locker room, he's the guy who would always talk in the good times or bad, sometimes when his teammates would bail out.

Glav lockered near teammate John Smoltz (who will be inducted soon), at the Apex of the Turner Field locker room. Tom Glavine was always prepared. It showed on the mound and his dealing with us (The Media).

And more importantly, in a big game, when the Braves needed a win, he always stepped up. Always.

Most Braves fans remember the World Series clincher where Dave Justice hit a home run to give them a 1-0 win over Cleveland. Less remember the starting pitcher who shut the Indians down to 1 hit.

That pitcher: Tom Glavine.

Greg Maddux: The smartest guy in the room. Every room. He didn't necessarily like doing interviews and I'm convinced he was brief and vague with us just to mess with our heads. He fit the teams personality to a "T" and believe it or not, was often the ringleader for practical jokes and keeping his teammates loose. We've heard some funny and gross stories about the jokes, all of which we believe, none of which we'll share....

There was no better artist than Maddux. None. I dragged my father to Maddux's one-hit game vs. St Louis back in 1996. My dad couldn't understand why I would get up to get food or a beer during the Braves at-bat.

The answer...simple: I wanted to watch Maddux pitch.

Me and Mark pre-Spring Training Animation/Courtesy: Chris Ballard
Bobby Cox: The leader. The man all revered but few knew in detail. Which was the way he wanted it.  Bobby saw everything, the guys on the team were convinced he either had cameras or spies everywhere.

True story: When I 1st started working in Atlanta (1999'ish..) along with working at the local CBS affiliate, I shot for a company that produced a Sports show weekly. And during baseball season, we'd interview Bobby. I didn't think anything about it at the time, but we'd set up chairs on top of the Braves dugout for the sit-down interview. We'd have to help Bobby get up there because his knees weren't so good. He'd had them both replaced.

But he'd always be ready to go.

The other thing I'll always remember is he called my friend, Sports Anchor Mark Harmon every other sports guy in town's name but his. Never failed.

So if you are reading this on Sunday morning July 27th or even in the early afternoon, tune in and watch. Stop for a little while and see some of my favorite baseball players...and many others favorites as they get the biggest honor in their entire careers, the thing all Major League baseball players live for.

They get inducted into the Hall of Fame....

Here's a story Mark and I produced in 2007. We interviewed Joe Torre, who also was a Braves manager at one point, while he was managing the Dodgers...

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