Smoltz a HOFer with a message for young arms

John Smoltz told parents in the crowd of 45,000 that baseball is "not a year-round sport ... take care of those dynamic young arms."

John Smoltz told parents in the crowd of 45,000 that baseball is "not a year-round sport ... take care of those dynamic young arms."

By Bob Elliott

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. _ John Smoltz was funny.

He also had the best message of the day.

Every time he calls former rotation mate and fellow Hall of Famer Greg Maddux, Maddux his phone programmed so that a bald head shows on his phone.

So, part way through his speech Smoltz pulled out a long-haired black wig and turned to Maddux behind him saying: 

“Tom Glavine, Maddux, back when I had hair, we had the time of our lives. It’s the only time, Greg, you’re not going to be able to talk about my bald head.” 

“What I want to talk about,” Smoltz said, “is the time we had playing golf and pitching. What you don’t know about Greg and Tom is you know that all the statistics got him here and they got him here in the Hall of Fame.”

Smoltz said both Glavine, a teammate for 15 seasons, and Maddux a teammate for 10, did things behind the
scenes.

“When I lost my change-up, they were there helping me find it. When I lost my golf book, which was the
prize of what I had, because I was the golf concierge, they looked tirelessly and helped me find it. Recently I lost 20 pounds, and they helped me find it.”

Smoltz is the first pitcher elected to the Hall who had Tommy John surgery. He said the elbow surgies have reached the “epidemic,” stage and is something affecting “our game ... something I thought would cost me my career.”Dr. James Andrews performed the operation “with such precision it caused it to be almost a false read, like a Band-Aid you put on your arm.”

“I want to encourage the families and parents that are out there to understand that this is not normal to have a surgery at 14 and 15,” Smoltz said. “You have a time. Baseball is not a year-round sport. You have an opportunity to be athletic and play other sports.

“Don’t let institutions that are out there running before you guaranteeing scholarship dollars and signing bonuses this is the way. We have great dynamic arms in our game it’s a shame that we’re having one, two, three
Tommy John recipients.”

Smoltz encouraged parents “if nothing else, know your children’s desire and passion to play baseball is something they can do without a competitive pitch.”

“Every throw a kid makes today is a competitive pitch. They don’t go outside, they don’t throw enough,” said Smoltz to applause. “They’re competing, maxing out too hard, too early. That’s why we’re having these problems. Please,
take care of those great future arms.”