Randy Smith: A Special Hall Of Fame Class

Tuesday, July 29, 2014 - by Randy Smith
Randy Smith
Randy Smith

The 2014 class of inductees into Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame was really something special. The group was headed by a pair of Atlanta Braves’ pitchers and their manager. It also included Former Braves’ and Yankees’ manager Joe Torre and White Sox slugger Frank Thomas, who played baseball at Auburn. In other words, it was a great day for the south.

Braves’ pitchers Greg Maddux and lefty Tom Glavine were each an amazing example of consistency. Not only were neither of them “power” pitchers, but they got batters out the same way; by killing them with finesse and tremendous control. They helped the Braves win fourteen straight divisional titles from the early 1990s through the mid-2000s, capping it off with a World Series crown in 1995.

Manager Bobby Cox served twice as the head man of the Atlanta Braves, getting fired the first time, then finding great success the second time around. The second stint for Cox came with Glavine and future Hall of Famer John Smoltz later joined by Maddux and in 1995, joined by another future Hall member Chipper Jones. In other words, better talent makes a man manage better.          

That is also the case for Joe Torre. Torre knocked around for nineteen seasons as a big league player, before becoming a manager with the Braves in 1982. When I say “knocked around” I mean he played for a lot of teams; mostly bad ones. Torre was always a good player. He was the 1971 NL Most Valuable Player when he played for the St. Louis Cardinals. He was also fired a lot as a manager before he got his biggest break when George Steinbrenner hired him to manage the Yankees in 1995. In making his Hall of Fame acceptance speech in Cooperstown on Sunday, Torre said, “Let’s just cut to the chase. I’m here because of the New York Yankees.” The Yankees under Torre dominated baseball winning three straight World Series titles and four in five years beginning in 1996; ironically Derek Jeter’s rookie year.

Then, there is Frank Thomas; “The Big Hurt.” Thomas had 521 home runs in his great career, mostly with the Chicago White Sox and mostly as a designated hitter. The former Auburn star proved a home run slugger could also hit for average as he wound up a lifetime .301 hitter. Though Thomas turned in great numbers, he never played for a World Series title.

I have always been a huge New York Yankee fan, as I have stated many times, but I always loved the Atlanta Braves.  When the Braves became the South’s first professional sports franchise in 1966, my dad would take me to Atlanta a couple of times each summer. I saw Hall of Famers like Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente, Willie McCovey, Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, and Bob Gibson among others. The only regret I had was not being able to see American League players play in the days before inter-league scheduling. But, that was the only down-side to watching the Braves play at Fulton County Stadium.

Braves’ fans should feel very proud of Sunday’s ceremony. After all, how many teams have ever had four first-ballot Hall of Famers on their roster along with a Hall of Fame manager at the same time? John Smoltz goes in in 2015, while Chipper Jones will enter Cooperstown in 2019. As a life-long Braves’ fan the only thing missing is an induction for the great Dale Murphy.

-----

Randy Smith has been covering sports on radio, television and print for the past 45 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has written two books, and has continued to free-lance as a play-by-play announcer. He is currently teaching Broadcasting at Coahulla Creek High School near Dalton, Ga.

His career has included a 17-year stretch as host of the Kickoff Call In Show on the University of Tennessee’s prestigious Vol Network. He has been a member of the Vol Network staff for thirty years.

He has done play-by-play on ESPN, ESPN II, CSS, and Fox SportSouth, totaling more than 500 games, and served as a well-known sports anchor on Chattanooga Television for more than a quarter-century.

In 2003, he became the first television broadcaster to be inducted into the Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame. Randy and his wife Shelia reside in Hixson. They have two married children, (Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith.) They have four grandchildren, Coleman, Boone, DellaMae and CoraLee.

To contact Randy: rsmithsports@epbfi.com



PREP SCHEDULES

FOOTBALL   FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 28 Brentwood Academy at Baylor Boyd-Buchanan at Chattanooga Christian McMinn Co. at Bradley Brainerd at Signal Mountain Howard at Central Cleveland at Maryville Heritage Copper Basin at South Pittsburg Sequoyah at East Hamilton Anderson Co. at East Ridge Grace at Ezell Harding ... (click for more)

Georgia Northwestern Lady Bobcats Fall At Rumble In Rossville

The Georgia Northwestern Lady Bobcats lost both ends of the Rumble in Rossville tri-match  on Saturday . The Lady Bobcats lost in four sets to Welch College, 25-21, 17-25, 25-16 and 27-25, before a straight-sets loss to Toccoa Falls College, 25-11, 25-15 and 25-15. Savannah Walker had 12 total kills, six blocks and five digs. Summer Fitzpatrick also had 12 digs ... (click for more)

Karen Saxton, 64, Killed In Crash On Highway 58 Saturday Afternoon

One person was killed in a crash on Highway 58 on Saturday afternoon. The victim was identified as Karen Saxton, 64. Chattanooga Police responded at 5:15 p.m. to the wreck in the 5900 block of Highway 58.  Upon arrival officers located a vehicle driven by 21-year-old Allen Dickerson in the northbound lane and the Saxton vehicle in the southbound lane. Police said ... (click for more)

Juvenile Shot On East 14th Street On Friday

A juvenile was shot Friday evening on East 14th Street. The Chattanooga Police Department responded at 6:45 p.m. to a person shot in the 2000 block of East 14th Street. Upon arrival, Officers located a male victim suffering from a gunshot wound to the abdomen. Hamilton County EMS responded to the scene and transported the victim to a local hospital. Members of the Violent ... (click for more)

Arming Teachers With Guns Will Be Too Dangerous - And Response (4)

Arming teachers with guns in the classroom, as Bill Lee proposes, would be the single most dangerous thing to happen to students in Tennessee history. Students and teachers in close proximity to loaded firearms daily? Across this state, in middle schools alone, there are probably hundreds of student/teacher conflicts a day. What if a student got hold of gun in a struggle with ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: On Saving A Soul

Not so long ago a top writer for the Washington Post was going through some of President Ronald Reagan’s papers and, among those his wife Nancy cherished, the Post’s Karen Tumulty happened to come across a deeply-moving letter. Four pages and written by his hand, it was a heartfelt message written by the president to his wife Nancy’s father in August of 1982. President Reagan ... (click for more)