When John Smoltz broke in with the Braves in 1988, they were coming off of a 92-loss season. Each of the next three years Atlanta lost at least 90 games.
With a strong core of up-and-coming young players, the Braves fortunes soon changed. The team hired John Schuerholz as their GM after the 1990 season and soon became a perennial winner.
Smoltz was part of the franchise resurrection. Starting in 1990 he reeled off four seasons with at least 14 wins each. He made the all star team in back-to-back seasons starting in ’92.
In 1996 he had his career year, leading the league with 24 wins and 276 strikeouts. Smoltz earned the Cy Young Award.
All the while the Braves were winning. Starting in ’91 they earned 14 consecutive division championships.
Tommy John surgery washed away his season in 2000. Smoltz returned as a all star closer. In 2002 he led the league with 55 saves. The following season he put up a miniscule 1.12 ERA and saved 45 games.
Smotlz went on to become baseball’s first pitcher to post at least 200 wins and 150 saves.
When Smoltz signed this contract with Topps in March of 1989, he was the owner of a 2-7 career record and 5.48 earned run average. By the time the agreement expired at the end of the 1993 campaign he was a three-time All Star and winner of 72 contests.
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