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The Significance of Sports Names in the News

The Harris County Journal of Hamilton, Georgia

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Last week three major sports figures were in the news.

For past and current fans of Atlanta Braves baseball, pitchers Greg Maddux and Tommy Glavine were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

While I might have to stop short of referring to them as the best pitchers of all time, I suspect they were likely the best tandem.

Both men were inducted into the Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility and both had over 90 percent of the votes cast.

Maddux first played professional baseball with the Chicago Cubs where he enjoyed considerable success. In 1993, he signed with the Atlanta Braves and stayed for 10 years. Incidentally, the first team he faced as a Brave was the Cubs, a game he won.

It was while pitching for the Braves that Maddux would enjoy tremendous success.

Though he never had an over-powering pitch,

Maddux never walked more than 82 batters in any season and set a National League record by going 72-2/3 innings without giving up a walk.

Greg Maddux pitched in 13 Division Series, 17 League Championship and five World Series games. He was a 20-game winner in two seasons, won 19 games during five seasons, and 18 games during two seasons.

Maddux retired from active play with a win-loss record of 355-227, an earned run average of 3.16, and with 3,371 strikeouts. .

A MULTI-SPORT athlete, Tommy Glavine starring in both baseball and ice hockey. He was drafted by both the Los Angeles Kings hockey team and the Atlanta Braves.

Glavine chose baseball and began playing with the Braves in 1987.

His first three seasons were not spectacular but in 1991 he won 20 games and his career took off. He would post 20-game winning seasons during three consecutive seasons, the last major league pitcher to accomplish that feat.

Tommy Glavine was one of pitchers that helped move the Atlanta Braves from being known as the "cellar dwellers" to becoming one of the premier teams in professional baseball.

Glavine played for the Braves from 1987 to 2002, and again from 2007 to 2010, retiring that final year.

He was the 23rd pitcher to win 300 career games. He won All Star 10 times and the National League Cy Young Award twice. He was a four-time Silver Slugger award winner and a five-time National League leader in wins.

Tommy Glavine also received the World Series Most Valuable Player award in 1995.

He retired with a won-loss record of 305-203, with an earned run average of 3.54 and recording 2,607 strike-, outs.

The combination of Greg Maddux and Tommy Glavine gave the Atlanta Braves a right-handed, left-handed punch other baseball teams envied.

For both pitchers movement of the ball and location of the pitch, not speed, factored into their long-term success as pitchers.

Both were masters of the game and neither was ever painted with the brush of cheating or using performance-enhancing drugs.

Both leave a legacy of greatness.

ALSO making news last week was the late, great Dale Earnhardt when it was announced the name Earnhardt-Gnassi Racing will be gone, replaced by Chip Gnassi Racing with Felix Sabates.

Like him or hate him, Dale Earnhardt - popularly known as The Intimidator - used marketing to help bring NASCAR to a mainstream audience. The predominately black Chevrolet with the white stylized "3" is immediately recognized anywhere.

The death of Earnhardt, the result of a last lap crash during the Daytona 500 in February 2001, left a vacancy in stock car racing that remains.

During his career in NASC AR's premier-level rac-ing, Earnhardt competed in 676 races spanning 27 years. During that time he captured the pole 22 times, and won 76 races.

Earnhardt and his wife, Teresa, started the company, Dale Earnhardt, Inc. and operated racing teams in the Busch/Nationwide Series and later in Sprint Cup races.

After Earnhardt's death, Dale Earnhardt Jr. attempted to purchase controlling interest in his father's company but was unsuccessful.

The fortunes of DEI in actual stock car racing slowly declined and with last week's announcement is now largely gone.

What a sad ending to a legacy.

That's my opinion.

Copyright 2014 The Harris County Journal, Hamilton, Georgia. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: January 16, 2014

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