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Which four Braves have risen above all others? Let the arguments begin.
MLB Mt. Rushmores
by Charlie Miller
The question posed recently whether Derek Jeter should be considered as part of the Yankees’ Mt. Rushmore piqued my interest. Not really the Jeter-Yankees part, but the idea that teams should have their own Mt. Rushmores. Who are the four individuals that have risen above all others for each organization? The question sounds simple. Even two guys sitting in a bar can figure that out, right? Not so fast. Let the arguments begin.
Atlanta Braves Mt. Rushmore
No argument here. He hit 733 home runs as a Brave, the most of any player for a single team. He scored 2,107 runs, had 3,600 hits and 600 doubles. This is as unanimous as you will find with any selection for any team.
Maybe not quite as much of a lock as Aaron, but close since 356 of his 363 wins came in a Braves uniform.
The arguments begin with the second and third heads etched in the mountain. From first overall draft pick to Hall of Famer, Jones has spent his entire professional life dedicated to this franchise. He’s proven himself as a leader over the past few seasons from calling out teammates (Jayson Heyward) to being team spokesperson for such matters as calling out umpires.
There’s too much pitching history for the other player not to be a pitcher. Smoltz has been closer to being Mr. Brave than his pitching cohorts Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux. Smoltzie has 16 more wins as a Brave than Maddux and 34 fewer than Glavine. But I think his 154 saves more than make up for that. (And Smoltz didn’t succumb to the players’ union and cross over to the hated Mets for more cash.)
Eddie Mathews is the only player to suit up for the franchise in Boston, Milwaukee and Atlanta. And he hit 493 home runs with the team. But Jones bests Mathews in every offensive category but home runs and triples.
Greg Maddux was generally considered the ace when he pitched alongside Tom Glavine and Smoltz, but Maddux won less than 200 games for Atlanta, fewer than either of his fellow aces. Glavine, with a Cy Young award and 244 wins, was difficult to omit.
Longtime Brave Phil Niekro won 268 games, and his career spanned the division winners in 1969-70 and 1982.
Kid Nichols won 329 games, but 297 of those came prior to 1900, so few fans can relate to that.
I would also submit Bobby Cox’s name for consideration. The general manager/manager turned around a floundering franchise, both with personnel moves and day-to-day moves in the dugout for 20+ seasons in addition to his first four-year stint with the team.
Follow Charlie Miller on Twitter @AthlonCharlie or email him Charlie.Miller@AthlonSports.com
Other teams' Mt. Rushmores: