‘When I fail, I learn’

By Bill Castanier

John Smoltz’s 'Starting and Closing' addresses baseball and Christian faith

Thursday, May 31 — John Smoltz’s professional baseball career is a highlight reel in itself, but he still calls hitting an eighth-inning walk-off home run to win the Lansing area Diamond Classic in 1985 one of his greatest moments in baseball. One of his worst moments occurred just a couple of weeks earlier, when his Waverly High School team was knocked out of the state finals by Okemos in a rain-shortened game he thought his team had won.

“I went to school the next day and when the coach told us we lost I was devastated,” he said. “It was a cheap shot, but everything has a purpose.”

In a phone interview, Smoltz said that his dominating outings in the Diamond Classic (a one-hitter and a no-hitter) probably wouldn’t have happened if Waverly hadn’t lost to Okemos. That’s part of the message he hopes readers of his new book, “Starting and Closing,” take away.

“I want it to be inspirational and for readers to understand that failure is part of the process. When I fail, I learn.”

Smoltz, a local baseball star in the early 1980s, went on to a stellar pro career, winning the Cy Young Award and the Roberto Clemente Award. When he was a member of the Atlanta Braves, the team won 14 pennants and a World Series.

His book focuses mostly on his comeback year when, following a devastating injury in 2000, he returned to baseball as reliever; the job allowed him to become one of only two pitchers to have won 50 games in a season from the bullpen and 20 games as a starter in a season.

Smoltzalso tells how throughout his career his Christian faith helped him overcome obstacles in both his professional and personal life. Area fans will love a photo section that includes photos of his early days in Lansing.

The author has transferred his love of baseball to the broadcast booth, as an analyst for both the TBS and MLB networks. He is on the road several days a week. This weekend, he is in the booth for the Detroit Tigers, and he will make a trip to Lansing Saturday afternoon for a book signing at Schuler Books & Music in the Eastwood Towne Center. (Be forewarned, he will not sign memorabilia during his appearance). His next stop might just be the Baseball Hall of Fame.

John Smoltz
Reading and signing
Noon-2 p.m., Saturday, June 2
Schuler Books & Music
2820 Towne Center Blvd., Lansing
(This will be a ticketed event, with tickets available at the Eastwood Towne Center location. Tickets are available free with purchase of 'Starting and Closing.' Smoltz will not be signing memorabilia. Photography will be permitted. Tickets may be reserved over the phone by calling the store at (517).316-7495. Those who have already purchased a copy through Schuler Books need only show their receipt to obtain tickets.