PITTSBURGH - Tim Hudson grew up an Atlanta Braves fan in Phenix City, Ala., watched the vaunted staff of Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz through his college years, and now has a chance to join their elite company.
Hudson is going for 200 career wins Friday night at PNC Park, a milestone Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz all reached in a Braves uniform.
“It’d be nice to be thought of as one of the pitchers of Atlanta Braves organization that people think of when they think of good pitching,” said Hudson, 37. “By no means am I trying to put myself in the category of those studs back in the 90s, but this organization is always known for its rich pitching and for me to have been here as long as I have, I’ve held my end of the bargain or they would have shipped me out a long time ago.”
Maddux won his 200th game at Turner Field against the Giants on Aug. 24, 1998 at age 32. Glavine reached 200 wins on July 31, 2000 in a 6-3 win over the Astros at Turner Field. (Andruw Jones made a diving catch in center and Wally Joyner had three hits that day). Smoltz got there on May 24, 2007 in a 2-1 win over the Mets at Turner Field, by out-dueling none other than Glavine.
All three are Hall of Fame bound – Maddux and Glavine with more than 300 wins and Smoltz as the first ever to record 200 or more wins and 150 saves. But the 200-win milestone was still special for them, as it will be for Hudson.
“I’m excited about it,” said Hudson, who’s 2-0 with a 2.50 ERA in three starts. “I’m just thrilled to have had the opportunity to play as long as I have. When I was in college or even when I first started playing in the big leagues, 200 wins seemed like forever away. Lot of things have to go right for you, health, organizations. You have to be on teams that win. I’ve been fortunate enough to have most of those go my way. Barring a couple surgeries here and there I feel like I’ve been pretty healthy.”
Hudson has won 107 games in nine seasons with Atlanta – fifth in Atlanta history behind the Big Three and Hall-of-Famer Phil Niekro (266) - after winning 92 in six seasons with Oakland.
“I always wanted to play for Atlanta,” Hudson said. “Never thought it’d be during the prime years of my career but I’m excited.”
Since Hudson came up with Oakland in 1999, only Roy Halladay has as many wins (both have 199). Halladay (200) and Andy Pettitte (247) are the only active pitchers with 200 or more wins. That’s a pretty good indication of how hard it is to get to 300.
“Glavine and Maddux and those guys, they made it seem so easy,” Hudson said. “It’s really not. At all. What is it, 20 years of 15 wins a year? The 15 wins a year isn’t as hard as 20 years of playing. Twenty years of pitching you’ve got to figure there are a couple years where you’re going to be out with injury. You’re talking about 22 years of playing baseball at the highest level. That’s ridiculous.”