Thank you so much for all the entries to win a copy of Smoltz's memoir, "Starting and Closing". If you didn't win, you can preorder the book before its release on May 8 via this link.
Now, on to the winners!
Michelle F., California
I love Smoltzie, from his awesome beard to his "hair" visor. He was my favorite pitcher growing up and I always loved watching him pitch. Favorite Smoltz moment: When he was mic'd up in the dugout and was making fun of Mac. He asked Mac if he and Boog could get their arms around each other - Mac got up and walked away, clearly wounded. Smoltzie, feeling bad, desperately called after him, "Mac! Mac, don't leave! Come Back!!" It still cracks me up when I think about it (Boog & Joe could hardly talk they were laughing so hard). Also, I refuse to acknowledge Smoltzie ever wore a Red Sox or a Cardinals jersey.
While the contest rules required a picture of your Smoltz memorabilia, Michelle F. here didn't have any, so she got creative. How could I not keep her entry in the drawing! :)
Phillip D., Tennessee
There's a baseball card show a few miles from our house every other Saturday. In 2010-2011, [Phillip's son] Carter wanted to go every weekend. He'd hit up all the grandparents for card money every time they came over. The cool thing about it being a local show, there is one guy there about once a month who is a huge Braves fan. He always has great cards. Minor's Vanderbilt card, tons of rookies and lots of autographed and jersey cards. We got this card, and two others (Yunel jersey and a bat fragment - can't remember who) for $6 I think.
We'd have so much fun digging through boxes looking for Chipper cards. I think Carter has probably 90 Chipper cards and half as many from other players. Half the time the guys would just give Carter the old cards when he'd try to pay. One guy even dug around for a while and gave Carter Chipper's 1991 Topps rookie card!
He's past the card phase now and as I type this I realize how much fun it was. Maybe our youngest will be into it next. We were coming home from Carter's ballgame last night around 7pm and Riley said "We've got to hurry up and get home. Chipper is on TV tonight." Yes, Jill has trained him well. He can actually spot #10 and calls it out anytime he's on TV.
What a great story. My brother went through a baseball card phase too, and he still has some amazing cards from the early 90s.
Katie D., New York
First of all, Brian (in the pictures above) entered the contest, but he wasn't chosen in the random drawing. Luckily for him, his girlfriend also entered the contest... so she could give the book to him!
Katie: My submission to the Starting and Closing contest is actually not for myself but a surprise for my significant other of 5 years Brian. New York is a state with a diverse population from people who grew up in all different parts of the country, so it's not rare to see people root for teams other than the Mets, Yankees and Red Sox. For Brian it's the Atlanta Braves. Growing up in Hawaii started his path onto Braves fandom with the ability to watch the Bravos on TBS when he would get home from elementary school. When moving to New York TBS allowed him to continue rooting for his favorite team. When we first met there was "this guy" he talked a lot about Smoltz or Smoltzy as he more often referred to him as. Knowing he was his favorite player, for one of his first birthdays together, I gave him an authentic Smoltz Braves jersey. I unfortunately had bad timing as that was the year Smoltz left the Braves but that hasn't stopped him from wearing his #29 jersey proudly at any Braves game we attend whether it's at Citi Field, PNC Park, Nationals Park, Wrigley, Fenway or of course our trips down to Turner Field each year. He would enjoy immensely a copy of Starting and Closing and I think he'd also be a little embarrassed that I submitted this entry on his behalf so if he won it would be funny to see his reaction, heh.
His twitter account name is @BravesStateMind.
And here's Brian's entry story...
I started watching the Braves when I was 5 or 6 years old, living in Hawaii (my dad was in the Navy) and tuning in on TBS. After moving to New York a few years later, I was able to continue watching the team on the Superstation. I've always been a fan of pitchers.. and gravitated towards Smoltzie. Being in western New York as the only baseball fan in my family, my only way to follow Smoltz and the rest of the Braves was on TV.
But in 2001, when I was 16, my family took a vacation to Disney World.. just in time for the first full day of Atlanta's Spring Training workouts at the Wide World of Sports Complex. I was fortunate enough to have Smoltzie, who was returning from Tommy John surgery, make his way to where I was standing. He signed a ball I brought (now much faded).. my first ever autograph from a Braves player and I was also able to snap a cool picture of him when he turned and faced me just as I leaned in with my camera while he was signing autographs.
A number of years later, when I got my first Braves jersey.. it was, of course, Smoltz's. And I still happily wear it to any game I'm able to go to, even though he's no longer out there on the mound. Now I get to listen to all his amazingly clever jokes on Braves broadcasts! Go Braves.. and Go Smoltz!
So congratulations, Brian! Sounds like you were meant to have a copy one way or another. :)
The book will be released to the public on May 8, and there are several links to purchase it online at the Harper Collins website.
Original contest link here. Thanks again for all the entries, and hopefully we can have another contest soon!