2006 NEWS

2006 News > 6/29/06

A HOME HE NEVER HAD

By Chris Snow, Boston Globe
Original Article HERE.

Tonight will be game No. 620 of Tom Glavine's august career but just his fifth, and quite possibly last, appearance at Fenway Park, where the pride of Billerica first saw and smelled and heard pro baseball as a young boy.

When asked if he'll take some mental snapshots tonight, when he pitches opposite Curt Schilling, Glavine said, "I may. I hadn't really thought about it yet. I guess I thought about it maybe for a brief second: This will probably be the last time I will pitch here unless we're fortunate enough to meet in the World Series, which is not totally out of the question.

"Beyond the fleeting moment I haven't really thought about that too, too much. There is some of that when I take the mound here anyway, the memories."

Glavine, 40, has been amassing memories since 1984 when the Braves selected him in the second round (Jon Lester, for perspective, was born that year). He debuted in 1987, pitched his first full season in 1988, and since has pitched no fewer than 183 innings in any season, with the exception of the strike-shortened 1994 season (165 1/3).

He's made nine All-Star teams, won two Cy Young awards ('91 and '98), and led the NL in wins five times. One year (1991) he pitched nine complete games. The next year he pitched five shutouts. This year, his fourth in New York, he leads the majors in wins at 11-2 with a 3.33 ERA, totals that project to -- brace yourself -- 23-4 for the season. For his career he is 286-186 with a 3.44 ERA, meaning he's 14 wins shy of becoming the 23d pitcher to win 300 games.

He's pitched at Fenway on four occasions, all for Atlanta, and he's been good: 3-1, 3.03 ERA. The game-by-game rundown is as follows.

Aug. 31, 1997: 8 IP, 6 H, 3 ER. Glavine beat former teammate Steve Avery, who lasted just 3 1/3 in a 7-3 Braves win.

June 4, 1999: 7 IP, 8 H, 4 ER. Pedro Martínez pitched a three-hit complete game, beating Glavine, 5-1.

July 7, 2000: 7 2/3 IP, 6 H, 3 ER. Pete Schourek got rocked for five runs in 1 2/3 innings in a 5-3 Atlanta win.

July 8, 2001: 7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER. Glavine beat Tomo Ohka in an 8-0 Braves victory.

Glavine was asked if it's a void, to have never played for the Sox.

"Ah , I don't know," he said. "I guess there are times where sitting there, especially when we're here, sitting on the bench during a game, when you look around, and you see everything. It would have been cool to experience that.

"It wasn't meant to be. It's not like the fact that I never got to play for these guys will ever dampen my experience in major league baseball. This is one of those things for me like playing hockey; I wonder what it would have been like. It's probably something I will never experience, which is OK.

Glavine admits to still rooting for the Sox. He rooted during the '04 World Series, though turned down his wife's invitation to join her for Games 1 and 2 of the Series at Fenway.

"I didn't feel comfortable doing that, being an active player," he said. "She came up, she got to experience it. We watched the last couple games at home together. I was definitely rooting for them."

Tonight Glavine will have plenty of the family and friends in the stands rooting for him -- 45 to 50 by his estimate. They might be thinking that this will be his last walk up the Fenway mound, but, he said, ``they haven't said anything if they are. I don't think anybody wants to bring that up. I think they're trying to keep quiet and not rock the boat as far as how things are going and not get to the point with me mentally where I get to the point where I may be experiencing some things for the last time."

But, by no means is Glavine on the way out. The advance reports on Glavine, who lived on the outer half of the plate for a decade and a half with Atlanta, show that he's throwing his changeup in to righties, altering his patterns, and pitching against the scouting reports of years past.

Realizing he has plenty left in the tank, and that it would be beneficial to the Mets to have Glavine win No. 300 in their uniform, Glavine and the Mets got together during the spring and rewrote his contract. Glavine was scheduled to earn $12.75 million this year in the last year of his deal.

He agreed to defer $5.25 million of that at 6 percent interest in exchange for the club adding an option year for 2007. There's a club option at $12 million for next year that could escalate to $14 million based upon Glavine's performance this year. Or, there's a player option at $5.5 million that could be worth as much as $8.5 million if he pitches 200 innings.

And so, he'll keep pitching, into age 41, perhaps beyond. A writer yesterday asked how old Glavine was when he made his initial visit to Fenway? "Probably 7 or 8," he responded.

"How long did Babe [Ruth] pitch?" the writer countered.

"I think he went seven that day, hit a couple homers," Glavine said, smiling.