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Hudson, Simpson inducted into Braves HOF

Atlanta greats on hand to honor former All-Star pitcher, longtime broadcaster
MLB.com @mlbbowman

ATLANTA -- As Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos concluded the celebration that took place at The Roxy within The Battery Atlanta on Saturday night, he said he has begun to understand why former players such as David Ross and Brian McCann and Hall of Famers like John Smoltz, Tom Glavine and Bobby Cox had so willingly come to see Tim Hudson and Joe Simpson receive one of the organization's highest honors.

Laughs, tears and memories filled a three-plus-hour ceremony, which was highlighted by Hudson and Simpson being inducted into the Braves' Hall of Fame.

ATLANTA -- As Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos concluded the celebration that took place at The Roxy within The Battery Atlanta on Saturday night, he said he has begun to understand why former players such as David Ross and Brian McCann and Hall of Famers like John Smoltz, Tom Glavine and Bobby Cox had so willingly come to see Tim Hudson and Joe Simpson receive one of the organization's highest honors.

Laughs, tears and memories filled a three-plus-hour ceremony, which was highlighted by Hudson and Simpson being inducted into the Braves' Hall of Fame.

"I'm very humbled that this organization thinks enough of me to put me alongside the likes of John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, Andruw Jones and Chipper Jones," Hudson said. "It's something that is very surreal, but I'm very grateful for the opportunity to put this uniform on. To look back on the nine years I was here and to know they thought enough of it to put me in their Hall of Fame is special."

As Hudson established himself as one of the best pitchers in Atlanta history over his nine seasons with the organization, Simpson was helping create the soundtrack for Hudson's tenure during a broadcasting career that will soon see his 27th season in the Braves' booth.

"This is the nicest thing that has ever happened to me in baseball," Simpson said. "It's a great thrill and honor. I'm especially proud to join the ranks of Ernie [Johnson], Skip [Caray], Pete [Van Wieren] and Don [Sutton]. That's a big deal to me."

Video: Joe Simpson gets inducted into Braves Hall of Fame

While Sutton was in attendance and Skip's son, Chip Caray, emceed the event, Simpson wished he could have shared this honor with his late mentors -- Ernie, Skip and Pete -- who made him instantly feel like a part of the Braves' family after he left Seattle as an unproven broadcaster and joined the TBS broadcasting crew in 1992.

Simpson made that journey 26 years ago with his wife, Kathy, and their two children, Gabe and Meg, who were among the broadcaster's many friends and family members who received recognition during an induction speech that drew playful jabs from Cox and Hudson because of its length.

"I had a 45-minute speech prepared, but Joe kind of killed that," Hudson said with a smile as he attempted to hold back the tears that started to form as he was introduced by Ross, whose friendship with the pitcher dates back to their days together at Auburn University.

Before Ross took the stage and reminded the crowd that his days on "Dancing with the Stars" had made him a better dancer than speaker, Smoltz and McCann drew some laughs as they exchanged stories about Hudson, who was traded by the A's to the Braves before the start of the 2005 season.

"When I got the call from [A's GM Billy Beane], he said, 'Well, we had to trade you, but I think you're going to like where you're going,'" Hudson said. "It was kind of hard because you don't want to act excited when you're talking to somebody who had employed you, but I was definitely pretty excited."

Tweet from @DaleMurphy3: Pre @Braves HOF dinner... backstage at the @CocaColaRoxy Congrats Huddy and Joe! pic.twitter.com/HpY4K5KVhz

When Hudson delivered the news to his wife, Kim, he was surprised to see her crying as he said, "It's going to be hard to leave all my friends, and all your friends from Phenix City are going to be calling all of the time asking for tickets."

Growing up in Phenix City, Ala., which is located approximately 90 minutes southwest of Atlanta, Hudson adopted Dale Murphy as one of his childhood heroes and then began aiming to be like Smoltz, Glavine and Greg Maddux as his latter high-school years and early college days were enriched by the Braves suddenly transforming from woeful to annual World Series contenders.

Hudson realized his childhood dream to play for the Braves, and in the process, he earned the distinction to forever be remembered among the organization's greats.

"You look around here and see Murph, Smoltz, Glavine and Bobby Cox," Hudson said. "They are legends of the game and legends of this city. To be considered one of them is pretty special."

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.

Atlanta Braves