ATLANTA -- Though the Braves might not have been easy to root for due to the many lousy teams they had during the majority of his childhood, Tim Hudson has always had a connection with the club. Raised 90 minutes south of Atlanta on the Georgia-Alabama border, he vividly remembers Dale Murphy, Bob Horner and the Baby Blues.
As Hudson neared the end of his high school years and experienced his successful collegiate career at Auburn University, he dreamed of the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of John Smoltz, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, the legendary pitching trio that led the Braves to prominence in the 1990s.
A decade after Glavine, Maddux and Smoltz were last all on the same pitching staff, Hudson finds himself hoping to extend his own legacy with the Braves.
The Braves are expected to exercise Hudson's $9 million option for the 2013 season. But the 37-year-old pitcher's long-term future in Atlanta will be determined by how he pitches next year.
"Honestly, I've never had any uncertainty going into an offseason," Hudson said. "I've always known where I was going to be the next year when I went into an offseason. But I'm a big boy. I can handle whichever way it goes."
With Chipper Jones now retired, Hudson stands as the longest-tenured player in the Braves organization. Along with being a leader in the clubhouse, he and his wife, Kim, have entrenched themselves in the Atlanta community through many selfless community efforts.
Hudson has been the Braves' Roberto Clemente Award nominee during six of the past seven seasons. He and his wife have spent countless hours aiding children through the Make-A-Wish Foundation and their own Hudson Family Foundation, which has provided more than $650,000 to families in Georgia and Alabama since 2009.
Country music stars Dierks Bentley and Craig Morgan will highlight the The Hudson Family Foundation Benefit Concert that will be staged on Nov. 2 at The Arena at Auburn University. Those interested in the concert or the gala that will take place the evening before should visit HudsonFamilyFoundation.com for more details.
"It is something that we're really excited about," Hudson said. "Kim and I have always appreciated the opportunity to help others."
Along with being one of the most charitable athletes in Atlanta's history, Hudson has also entrenched himself in Braves history. The only pitchers to make more starts for the Atlanta Braves (since 1966) are Phil Niekro, Smoltz, Glavine and Maddux.
Since coming to Atlanta via a trade with the A's in December 2004, Hudson has compiled 222 starts and gone 105-65 with a 3.52 ERA. He has won at least 16 games in each of the three full seasons he has completed since undergoing Tommy John surgery.
Hudson missed the first month of this past season while recovering from offseason back surgery. But from a physical perspective, the only problems he encountered after he returned came courtesy of some bone spurs in his left ankle.
There were times this year where Hudson still appeared quite capable to serve as a top-of-the-rotation starter. But on the way to compiling a 3.62 ERA -- his highest mark since the 4.86 ERA he produced during his career-worst 2006 season -- he was routinely victimized by big innings.
Hudson allowed four runs or more in an inning in eight of his 28 starts. He had allowed that total in an inning in just two of the 33 starts he made in 2011.
Within those eight rough innings he allowed a total of 34 runs, or 44 percent of the 77 runs that he allowed over the course of the 179 innings that he pitched this year.
Hudson exited this season healthy and looking forward to the chance to be able to complete all of his normal preseason preparations leading up to next year.
Having recently been hurt by the struggles Derek Lowe endured as he got closer to his 40th birthday, the Braves will likely wait until the end of the 2013 season to discuss the multi-year deal Hudson is hoping to eventually earn.
"I still feel like I could play for a while," Hudson said. "It's all just a matter of what they want to do now and what is a fair price. They may want to wait to see how this year goes."