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Smoltz pitches in to help Atlanta-area teachers

ATLANTA -- John Smoltz filled more than 700 box scores with 3,084 strikeouts during his Major League career. On Monday night at Turner Field, Smoltz worked with Target and many volunteers to fill 5,000 boxes with school supplies for Atlanta teachers.

The event was part of a joint effort between Major League Baseball, Target and People Magazine to honor All-Star Teachers. There are three nominated educators per team, and fans vote for which teacher they would like to represent each of the 30 MLB clubs at this year's All-Star Game on July 15 at Target Field in Minneapolis.

The initiative also includes events like Monday's to help provide classroom supplies to 5,000 teachers in each Major League city. The effort inspired Smoltz, who is a founder of King's Ridge Christian School in Alpharetta, Ga.

"Teachers are the lifeblood of every school," Smoltz said. "They spend so much time with kids."

Through his experience with King's Ridge, Smoltz recognized that many teachers are responsible for providing their own classroom supplies. That, in part, helped motivate Smoltz to get involved with Target's effort to help lessen that burden on educators.

"A lot of teachers' hands are tied, and I feel sorry for them, as well as coaches," Smoltz said. "They're giving their resources to trying to help children become adults, and obviously to educate them."

Personal experience as a student also moved Smoltz to help out. He recalls his time at both St. Gerard Catholic School and Waverly High in Detroit fondly.

"I don't think I ever had a bad teacher, which is really rare," Smoltz said. "I just felt like every situation I was in, I had a teacher that really was motivating me."

Smoltz's presence was warmly welcomed by the staffers and volunteers who spent more than three hours assembling kits of school supplies. Selfies were taken and hands were shaken as Smoltz chatted and visited with the workers.

"It is fantastic to have him here," Target spokesperson Erin Conroy said. "That's been one of the great things about partnering with Major League Baseball. We've seen so many players and legends get involved, and having John here is kind of the icing on the cake. We get to do great things for the Atlanta community, and have a great legend be a part of it."

But as impressed as the volunteers were to see Smoltz, he was even more blown away by the undertaking of the project.

"To see this operation up close is real special," Smoltz said.

Joe Morgan is an associate reporter for

Atlanta Braves