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Starting and Closing: Perseverance, Faith, and One More Year Hardcover – May 8, 2012

4.5 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“When Smoltz talks about baseball, the book comes alive . . . it all has the ring of authenticity and wisdom.” (Kirkus Reviews)

From the Back Cover

I wasn't afraid to fail. It's really as simple as that.

As a seven-year-old kid pitching a ball against a brick wall, John Smoltz decided to be a professional baseball player when he grew up. And from that simple decision until his last season on the mound in the major leagues, it was his faith, work ethic, and love for the game—even more than God-given talent—that propelled him through challenges that would have ruined other athletes.

Starting and Closing chronicles John Smoltz's final season in a major league uniform, capping a legendary career that included fourteen years as part of one of the most dominant starting rotations in baseball, a Cy Young Award, and a World Series title—all while battling and overcoming "career-ending" injuries. At age forty-one, Smoltz was making yet another unlikely comeback from his fifth surgery. Recounting the story of a season that tested his perseverance and deepened his faith, Smoltz flashes back to watershed moments in the skeptic-defying journey from being one of the best starting pitchers of all time, to closer, to starter again.

One of the most intelligent, talented, and passionate players in the game, Smoltz delivers insights into modern major league baseball, its place in popular culture, and the value of competition. He writes with unflinching honesty about becoming a true Christian and finding in his beliefs the peace and strength to stay focused—through postseason triumphs and defeats, upheavals in his personal life, and the sting of being sent to the bullpen. What emerges is an inspirational story of spiritual growth and family values, from a man who believed not just in himself but in God's plan for him—and one more year.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow (May 8, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062120549
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062120540
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #812,695 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

John Smoltz is an American former Major League Baseball pitcher and active sportscaster. He is best known for his prolific career of more than two decades with the Atlanta Braves, in which he garnered eight All-Star selections and received the Cy Young Award in 1996. Though predominantly known as a starting pitcher, Smoltz was converted to a reliever in 2001, following his recovery from Tommy John surgery, and spent four years as the team's closer before returning to a starting role. In 2002 he became only the second pitcher in history to have had both a twenty-win season and a fifty-save season (the other being Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley). He is the only pitcher in major league history to top both 200 wins and 150 saves. He became the 16th member of the 3,000 strikeout club on April 22, 2008 when he fanned Felipe Lopez of the Washington Nationals in the third inning in Atlanta. He is currently the Chairman of Kings Ridge Christian School in Atlanta and is a scratch golfer (Tiger Woods has said Smoltz is the best golfer outside the PGA tour). He lives in Atlanta with his family.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
John Smoltz's book isn't your typical recount of a major league career. Smoltz's book is about the journey God put him on and the challenges he's faced and overcome. The major focus of the book is his final comeback season with the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals in 2009. It was the least successful year of his career.

Smoltz starts out by saying there are three things readers should know about him: 1) all he ever wanted to do was win; 2) He's not afraid to fail and 3) He never did anything in baseball just to set a record.

Smoltz, who won 210 games in 20 years for the Atlanta Braves, shares his experiences to show others how to overcome and deal with failure in their lives. It's a book about growing and learning how to be successful in life. It's about persevering, overcoming obstacles and rallying from the uncomfortable depths of failure.

Smoltz says most people don't achieve their potential because they aren't comfortable being out of their comfort zone. They don't take risks, make adjustments or ask why not? Smoltz says don't give in to your doubts.

Two trying experiences in Smoltz's career were in 2001 when he came back after missing the 2000 season from Tommy John surgery and in 2009 when he signed with the Red Sox after undergoing shoulder surgery at age 41.

In 2001, Smoltz had lost his job as a starter for the Atlanta Braves and was relegated to the bullpen, where he proceeded to notch a near-record 55 saves. The transition, however, wasn't as easy as it seemed. After two more successful seasons in the bullpen, he convinced the Braves' front office to make him a starter again.

"I looked at failure as an opportunity to grow, not as an opportunity to quit," says Smoltz.
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Format: Hardcover
Today's book review is of Starting and Closing: Perseverance, Faith, and One More Year by John Smoltz with Don Yeager. This book was sent to me by the publisher as a free review copy.

Chances are good that he is a Hall of Fame pitcher, but John Smoltz is not a Hall of Fame author. The book has its merit, but it is not all that one would hope for in a memoir by a great pitcher reflecting on a great career playing with teammates that included some of the top players of the era.

Smoltz makes it clear from the beginning that the book is not intended as an autobiography so much as a way to convey some thoughts and life lessons he has picked up along the way, perhaps losing sight of how revealing a bit more of yourself can be more inspiring to others. Smoltz has some reputation as an inspirational speaker, but here he talks about the subtitle attributes of perseverance and faith than about the process he himself used in getting through his own trying times. The book is meant far more to encourage than to reveal, and so falls somewhat short of doing either.

Smoltz talks a good bit about his seven surgeries, and about the twin blessing and curse of his own "loose joints," which at one and the same time allow him to pitch at high velocities while also making him susceptible to breakdown and injury. He talks about the trial of being traded from his hometown team, Detroit, to Atlanta while still a minor leaguer, and how that provided both disappointment and opportunity. Yet at this and several other points it seems that Smoltz holds back rather than spilling his guts, which helps to maintain his own privacy but makes the book less interesting.

We also get few anecdotes of Smoltz with his famous teammates, such as Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and Chipper Jones.
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Format: Hardcover
John Smoltz is one of the best pitchers to ever play major league baseball. For over twenty years he pitched for the Atlanta Braves, chosen eight times for the All-Star team and winning the Cy Young Award for best pitcher in 1996.

He pitched in the starting rotation for fourteen years when an injury caused him to move to the bullpen and become a relief pitcher. After three years in the bullpen, he asked to rejoin the starting rotation. Many people, particularly in the sports media, asked him why he did this. His response: Why not?

Smoltz begins the book with three things people need to know about him:
1. All he ever wanted to do was win
2. He's not afraid to fail
3. He never did anything in his baseball career just to set a record, or to be able to say that no one else has done what he has done

Smoltz lived in Michigan, and his grandfather worked at the Detroit Tigers stadium. Young John grew up going to Tigers games, and he loved the Tigers. He was thrilled to be drafted by his hometown Tigers to play baseball, and disappointed when they soon traded him to the Atlanta Braves.

His disappointed turned to happiness when he realized that the Braves were willing to work with him, that they valued their young players and worked hard to make him a successful pitcher. (The Braves are known for their excellent farm system.)

Injuries plagued Smoltz throughout his career, and he pushed his body through the pain, hoping to avoid Tommy John surgery, which could end his baseball career. He eventually had the surgery, but with his amazing work ethic, he began a grueling rehab program and came back to pitch again, although as a closer.
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