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Happy Birthday to Greg Maddux, David Justice, and Steve Avery

Greg Maddux along with his former teammate David Justice share the same birthday, April 14, 1966. Every year, on this day, they get together for a game of bowling and reminisce over the good old days when the strike zone was able to be expanded a few inches off of the outside corner and “chicks digged the long ball”.

Ah, the good old days. Back in the good old days when over-produced baseball cards were worth something. Back in the good old days when grunge became a hyped commodity that was packaged and sold by corporate America. Back in the good old days when Randy Johnson had a mullet. Back in the good old days when Cecil Fielder was hitting homeruns out of stadiums. Back in the good old days when people actually purchased CD’s in a store. Back in the good old days when you were forced to watch the Atlanta Braves because TBS was the only station that had baseball on. Back in the good old days when Halle Berry was in The Flintstones movie.

Ah, those were the days. It all rushes to the head like an adrenaline wave of HGH and Androstenedione.

Honestly, I do miss those days a little. The 1991 MLB playoffs was the first postseason I can remember. Steve Avery was a household name that month. He was on fire during the NLCS. He pitched over 16 innings without giving up a run as he went on to be named NLCS MVP. He also pitched well in the World Series against the Minnesota Twins. He had a Blown Win in Game 3 when Alejandro Pena gave up a homerun to Chili Davis in the 8th inning. The Braves ended up winning in the 12th inning when Mark Lemke drove in David Justice to win the game.

In Game 6 of the 1991 World Series, Avery pitched 6 innings allowing 3 earned runs. Scott Erickson also pitched 6 innings allowing 3 earned runs for the Twins as they both left with the game tied. This was the game that Kirby Puckett went 3-for-4 with a game ending homerun in the 11th inning. The Twins ended up winning the World Series after a great pitching duel between Jack Morris and John Smoltz the next night. Morris pitched 10 innings of shutout baseball and was named the World Series MVP.

Even with the Braves losing the World Series, baseball fans remember how good Steve Avery was that postseason. You have to wonder how both Smoltz and Avery felt seeing Jack Morris go the distance as they both grew up in Michigan watching the Detroit Tigers. You always hear the story of Smoltz facing his hometown idol, but I can tell you that Avery was also a Tigers fan.

In 2018, I met Steve Avery at a Charlotte Knights game. I was wearing the old English D. He greeted me with a handshake and a smile. He told me he liked the shirt. If I had known then that he grew up in Michigan, I would have said something other than, “and you pitched for the Tigers too!”

Yeah, he pitched for Detroit in 2003, when the Tigers were hoping not to break the record for most losses in a season. They ended up losing 119 games that season, one shy of the all-time record of 120 by the expansion New York Mets in the 1962 season.

Yet, here I was talking about that season as if that was the reason he liked my shirt. He was still really cool as he posed with me for a photo. Happy Birthday Steve Avery!

How many times did Steve Avery pitch on his birthday? Twice with no wins and no losses.

The other former Atlanta Braves player who signed autographs in 2018 at a Charlotte Knights game was David Justice. The line for him was a good 2 hour wait. I was in the back of the line and waited even as I was told he might leave before 8:00 pm. I guess that is when they are contractually obligated to stay, but he signed autographs for everybody who was in line that day. He was as nice as could be. He took a photo with me and had a great signature on the baseball that was signed. Happy Birthday David Justice!

How many homeruns did David Justice hit on his birthday? Zero, but he was married to Halle Berry.

Someone who has not signed autographs at a Charlotte Knights game is Greg Maddux. So I don’t have any pictures to post with him. I did see him in the back of a truck in Cooperstown during the parade before Induction day, but I have not received his autograph in person. His autograph looks kind of like a scribble anyway. As if he is trolling you to read it. It must have changed over the years, because some of his early autographs are pretty legible. I still wish him a Happy Birthday as he was the guy who made the common man think they could be a major league pitcher, since he didn’t throw real hard. He threw almost a reverse cutter that went back towards the plate. He had pinpoint control and was very efficient for a long period of time.

Greg Maddux Autograph Scribble

How many times did Greg Maddux pitch on his birthday? One time. He threw a complete game versus the San Francisco Giants on April 14, 1994. His stat line that day: 9 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 9 K with a Game Score of 88. He lowered his ERA to 0.35 on the young season.

Happy Birthday Greg Maddux!

Oh yeah, Happy Birthday to Pete Rose, Brad Ausmus, Brandon Finnegan, Adam Russell, Kyle Farnsworth, and Gregg Zaun too!

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