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Smoltz, Glavine, Maddux honored

Smoltz, Glavine, Maddux honored

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Over the course of the past month, John Smoltz has had the opportunity to enjoy a few days of golf with Greg Maddux and also celebrate the opportunity to once again be joined in the Braves' rotation with Tom Glavine.

Arguably, Smoltz, Glavine and Smoltz formed one of the greatest starting pitching trios the game has ever seen. Undoubtedly, they remain the closest of friends and a highly successful group that has never allowed jealousy to destroy the strong bond they developed while helping the Braves begin and continue their unprecedented run of 14 consecutive division titles.

In recognition of their greatness and contributions to the game, Baseball America presented this trio with a Lifetime Achievement Award on Tuesday. Smoltz was the only one who attended the presentation at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center, and he had no problem speaking on behalf of the entire group in a jovial manner.

"The first thing I'm going to do is say that they all wanted me to clear the air on something -- I officially am the best golfer among the three of them, and they wanted that to be cleared up," Smoltz said as he prepared to make his acceptance speech.

All joking aside, this was obviously a special honor for Smoltz, who also was thrilled to receive the highly respected Branch Rickey Award in November. Although he feels he might have been in the shadows of Glavine and Maddux throughout their time together in Atlanta, he feels honored that people are now regarding them as one special trio.

"Recently, I think people really do appreciate the three of us," Smoltz said. "It was always the two of them and I tugged behind. I was a part of it, but they were in the forefront with their accomplishments, for obvious reasons. Now to be lumped together with an award really speaks volumes for all of our careers."

From 1991-98, Glavine, Smoltz and Maddux combined to win seven of eight National League Cy Young Awards. They were united with Maddux's arrival in Atlanta before the start of the 1993 season and remained together until Glavine signed with the Mets before the start of the 2003 season.

Braves manager Bobby Cox, who attended Tuesday's event with a number of other team officials, was visibly delighted to learn that this special group was being bestowed with this honor.

"I wish they were all here," Cox said. "They're our three guys. They're gamers, organizational guys, community-oriented and they want to win. They're very, very special."

Maddux and Glavine are members of the exclusive 300-win club, and if not for a number of elbow surgeries, one of which forced him to spend 3 1/2 seasons as a reliever, Smoltz might have joined this club. But with 207 career wins and his postseason dominance, the 40-year-old right-hander is still believed to be a lock to one day join his old rotation mates in the Hall of Fame.

While that honor should be realized in the future, Smoltz is currently satisfied to know that this award confirms that this special trio is viewed by many as one.

"To get this with those guys, it's pretty cool," Smoltz said.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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