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.