While Fred McGriff’s Tom Emanski guest spot is forever cherished among Atlanta Braves fans, the Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux starring “Chicks Dig The Long Ball” commercial stands the test of time.
For Atlanta Braves followers, there are some debates that come along with fandom that are downright defeating.
Who’s the greatest Brave of all-time? Does Andruw Jones deserve to be in the Hall of Fame? Would Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine have had the same amount of success with today’s strike zone? Who would you rather build a franchise around? Freddie Freeman or Ronald Acuna Jr.?
The list goes on.
It’s like choosing your favorite children.
No one wins, but it’s fun to discuss (just make sure your children aren’t around).
That’s why during this downtime in baseball, I often find myself delving into some topics I would normally drift away from under business-as-usual operations.
In the past month or so, on several occasions, I’ve come across the baseball social-sphere revisiting Glavine and Maddux’s memorable “Chicks Dig the Long Ball” Nike campaign from 1999.
It got me thinking: Is this truly the greatest commercial to ever feature a past or present member of the Atlanta Braves?
If you dig deep enough, surprisingly, there has been a catalog of cable spots throughout the years highlighting Braves players.
From the horrendously corny MC Hammer-fueled rap on Turner South which featured the likes of John Smoltz, Dale Murphy, Andruw Jones, and company, to Jeff Francoeur’s misplaced Delta spot where he crushes a ball to Copenhagen (can we consider that a curse?), to Jason Heyward’s SportsCenter drop in that had him explaining the bat-making process to Scott Van Pelt as a sadistic-looking Stanford tree stands in the background—there’s plenty to choose from.
But as I write this, I can’t tell you how difficult it is to not select Fred McGriff’s guest-starring role on the classic Tom Emanski commercial as the greatest.
Admittedly, the Crime Dog was my favorite player growing up, and I was always pumped to witness him on the grandest stage of all…the 9 a.m. slot on ESPN…for about 20 consecutive years.
To this day, I can still vividly recall the narrator boasting of “Back-to-back-to-back AAU National Champions” as an army of robotic 10-year-old infielders put on an absolute defensive clinic.
Then, in a quick, innocuous cut, the narrator directs us to “Just ask Major League superstar Fred McGriff!”
And then the Crime Dog comes in like a champ with the least-convincing seal of approval of all-time.
“I give them my full endorsement,” McGriff says in deadpan. “When you watch them, you’ll know why.”
As a kid, I thought, “Just take my $29.95 plus shipping and handling right now!”
But, I digress.
We all know the crown jewel of Braves commercials is the “Chicks Dig the Long Ball” spot. Clocking in at just over a minute, this advertisement is the Holy Grail of infotainment.
At the height of the home run chase/steroid era, what a brilliant idea to take the epitome of power (Mark McGwire) and the polar opposite of offense (Maddux and Glavine) and pit them against one another in a comedic environment. The producer and screenwriter hit it to Big Mac Land with this piece of art.
There are so many golden nuggets here.
From Glavine gazing at McGwire crushing the ball during batting practice at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, wondering, with a bit of clairvoyance may I add, “How long are they going to worship this guy?” To Maddux exclaiming “Hey, we’ve got Cy Young winners over here,” the timing of it all was just impeccable.
You had Maddux reading Ted Williams’ epic tome “The Science of Hitting,” Glavine struggling on the bench press, and then Maddux proceeding to beat Glavine in the stomach with a baseball bat, which all leads to the Rocky-esque ascend up the stadium steps at The Vet.
The irony, of course, is the juxtaposition of two future Hall of Fame hurlers training rigorously in the gym to outwit a roided up Paul Bunyan figure while vying for Heather Locklear of Melrose Place fame.
While Maddux’s infamous claim that “Chicks Dig the Long Ball” may have gone unnoticed by Locklear in the end, the claim has resonated with the baseball world and Braves fans for more than two decades.
And, of course, from Nike’s perspective, the commercial was a gold mine, because, as we all know, “It really is the shoes.”
They sought to create something with personality, something with pizzaz, something with a pulse.
But what they shot over the course of two days during a 1999 Braves road trip in Florida and Philadelphia had one overarching outcome.
But, I leave it to you, the reader. Is this the best commercial in Atlanta Braves’ history? Leave a comment and let us know.