The Atlanta Braves Mount Rushmore
After not including some of the best players of all time from the Braves' Mount Rushmore, it feels weird to turn around and choose Dale Murphy, a guy who is not in the Hall of Fame, to be on it.
Hear me out.
While Maddux, Smoltz, Glavine, and Mathews (and to an extent, Niekro), all spent their Braves tenure alongside other excellent Braves, Murphy did not. The two-time MVP's most notable teammates during the prime of his career were Bob Horner and Phil Niekro, already in his 40s.
Ted Turner had only just started airing the Braves on TBS a few years before Murphy's debut. So, for a lot of Braves fans across the U.S., Murphy was the first star they latched on to.
In the 80s, during Murphy's stardom, the Braves made the playoffs for the first time since 1969, he won two MVPs in a row, won five Gold Gloves, four Silver Sluggers, and was an All-Star seven times. Murphy was easily the face of the franchise and no one else was close.
Murphy gets the Rushmore nod partially on his stats – it's not like he was a Jeff Blauser type – but mostly because he's responsible for a great deal of Braves fans who came along before the 90s.
Also, he had an incredible first pitch during the 2021 NLCS that I still think about. Only one guy rocked the pearls better than Murph in that postseason.
If Maddux had played more years with Atlanta, this spot would easily be his. Smoltz's time in the bullpen and Glavine's five-year tenure with the Mets also make it difficult to choose the two here. This spot could also easily belong to Niekro.
Even though Spahn never played for the Braves in Atlanta, he is easily the best pitcher in franchise history. Despite missing three full seasons due to his military service, Spahn still managed to hit 100 bWAR as a player.
In the 1940s, when the team was still in Boston, the Boston Post published a four-line poem called, "Spahn and Sain and pray for rain" which was about how dominant Spahn and his teammate, Johnny Sain, were on the mound. The year it was published, the two pitched in 78 games.
In his 21-year career (20 of which he spent with the Braves), Spahn pitched 5243.2 innings, won 363 games (356 with the Braves), and 3.09 career ERA. He's also tied for 26th on the Braves franchise leaderboard in saves with 28 saves.
Spahn also a great hitter. He has the third-most homers by a pitcher in MLB history with 35, behind only Wes Ferrell and Bob Lemon.