One of my favorite people of all-time was the late Buster Sterchi, long-time softball guru and coach in South Carolina. One of Buster’s favorite sayings was, “Have A Day!” He told all his players that at least a dozen times per season when he was coaching. When I watched Atlanta Braves Pitcher Tim Hudson almost single-handedly beat the Washington Nationals on Tuesday night, I thought fondly of Buster.
Hudson ran his record to 3-1 with the win, combining with reliever Anthony Varvaro for a neat three-hitter. But more importantly, it was career win number 200 for Hudson. The 37 year old Braves ace also homered and doubled, and as Buster would say, “ he had a day!”
“It was a fun game,” Hudson said. “Obviously, it’s kind of surreal. Nobody expects to hit a home run.” His fifth inning blast to right-center field was the third of his major league career. It was also his first since June of 2011, and that 200 win total makes him only the third active pitcher with 200 or more wins. Andy Pettitte (248) and Roy Halladay (201) are the other two. Most importantly for Atlanta, it was the Braves ninth straight win over the Nationals.
Now that Tim Hudson has picked up his 200th career win, there is talk about Hall of Fame consideration. There are also some detractors who will argue against his 3.73 career ERA. But, you have to take into consideration most of his career has taken place in the “steroid era” of Major League Baseball; when very few pitchers had a good ERA. His Hall of Fame supporters can also point to his .656 winning percentage, which is currently seventh best all-time among pitchers with 200 or more wins. It is very likely too early to seriously start Hall of Fame talk for the former Auburn star, but he is a bona-fide candidate.
Unlike former Braves pitchers, Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, or John Smoltz, Hudson has never won a Cy Young Award. After successfully bouncing back from Tommy John surgery in 2008, he hasn’t been great, but he has been consistently good. At 3-1 to start the 2013 season, and barring injuries, he could make a real case for his first Cy Young honor. “He was as good as I’ve ever seen him,” said Nationals manager Davey Johnson after Tuesday nights’ game. It also helps that he has a really good team playing behind him. The Braves are 17-9 and have a 4 ½ game lead in the National League East.
Has any other big-league pitcher done what Tim Hudson did? Well, there are folks who keep up with those things. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Bob Lemon is the only other pitcher to accomplish that feat. He did it back in 1956. Knowing the free-spirited Hudson, he is most likely every bit as proud of his home run as he is of the 200th career victory. “We’re pitchers. We’re not supposed to hit home runs anywhere.” Hudson said following the game. “The stars were aligned and it was meant to be.”
Here’s hoping the stars stay aligned a while longer, so the Braves can get back to the World Series, and so Hudson can win his initial Cy Young Award. Buster Sterchi is probably smiling as he looks down on Atlanta, Georgia. “Have a day, Tim Hudson. Have a day!”
Randy Smith has been covering sports in Tennessee for the last 43 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has continued his broadcasting career as a free-lance play-by-play announcer. He is also an author and is a media concepts teacher at Brainerd High School in Chattanooga. He is also the Head Softball Coach at Brainerd. Randy Smith's career has included a 17-year stint as scoreboard host and pre-game talk show host on the widely regarded "Vol Network". He has also done play by play of more than 500 college football, basketball, baseball and softball games on ESPN, ESPN2, Fox Sports, CSS and Tennessee Pay Per View telecasts. He was selected as "Tennessee's Best Sports Talk Show Host" in 1998 by the Associated Press. He has won other major awards including, "Best Sports Story" in Tennessee and his "Friday Night Football" shows on WRCB-TV twice won "Best Sports Talk Show In Tennessee" awards. He has also been the host of "Inside Lee University Basketball" on CSS for the past 11 years. He was the first television broadcaster to ever be elected to the "Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame", in 2003. Randy and his wife, Shelia, reside in Hixson. They have two married children (Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith). They also have three grandchildren (Coleman, Boone, and DellaMae).