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updated: 7/26/2014 11:31 PM

It's a Brave new world in Cooperstown

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  • Fans visit displays of Frank Thomas, Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux at the Baseball Hall of Fame on Saturday, July 26, 2014, in Cooperstown, N.Y. The former Major League Baseball players will be inducted to the hall on Sunday.

      Fans visit displays of Frank Thomas, Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux at the Baseball Hall of Fame on Saturday, July 26, 2014, in Cooperstown, N.Y. The former Major League Baseball players will be inducted to the hall on Sunday.
    Associated Press

 
 

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- There may not be a happier man in upstate New York than Leo Mazzone.

The former Atlanta pitching coach can hardly contain himself as he walks up and down Main Street near the Hall of Fame, a hero to Braves fans while knowing few have ever been more fortunate in baseball.

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"Think about what I had to work with every day when I went to the park," Mazzone said. "When you start your day with Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz, you're having a pretty good day already."

Mazzone is here to celebrate the inductions of Maddux, Glavine and manager Bobby Cox, a man he says is still one of his best friends.

"I'm just in awe of what's happening here and I'm so glad for all of these guys," Mazzone said. "Those were the greatest years of my life and it's just great to be here and celebrate with them."

The 14 straight division titles were orchestrated by GM John Schuerholz, now the Braves president, who said finding Maddux available on the free-agent market in 1992 was the game-changer.

"He was the best pitcher in baseball, just won the Cy Young, and he was there for us to take," Schuerholz said. "It was unbelievable. I talked to Bobby about it and he said, 'Can you imagine that staff? We'll never have a losing streak.'

"From there, it was just making sure we put the right pieces around the staff."

From 1993-2003 -- the Maddux era in Atlanta -- the Braves made the playoffs every year, averaged 99.44 wins in non-strike seasons, and in the two shortened years were on pace for 97 and 101 victories.

For seven of those years, Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz were the Big Three, winning five of seven Cy Young Awards

"We were blessed to have that kind of talent, but it was just such a great team effort from the top to the bottom," Cox said. "Everyone was interested in winning. That's all. No other nonsense. Everyone wanted to win."

Glavine says there might never be another team with so much talent and so little ego.

"We were highly competitive, don't get me wrong," Glavine said. "But there was rarely any petty stuff that drags you down and wastes your time and energy.

"It was so professional in there that Bobby never had to say anything to us. We took care of it.

"It was all about getting it done on the field and getting your job done like a pro. It was an amazing thing to be a part of."

brozner@dailyherald.com

•Listen to Barry Rozner from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on the Score's "Hit and Run" show at WSCR 670-AM.

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