2008 NEWS

2008 News > 2/26/08


By Mark Bowman, MLB.com

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- As soon as he caught Tony DeMacio out of the corner of his eye late Tuesday morning at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex, Braves left-hander Tom Glavine casually excused himself from an interview to once again provide DeMacio another non-verbal thank you courtesy of a firm and heartfelt handshake.

Looking back 24 years to when they first crossed paths on a high school baseball field in Massachusetts, a lot has changed for these two accomplished baseball personalities. Glavine has become a legendary figure who gained immortal status by reaching the 300-win milestone last summer.

As for DeMacio, he's spent the past two decades getting credit for the signings of such superstars as Chipper Jones, Manny Ramirez and Kerry Wood. Now a widely respected figure in the scouting world, he still has to wonder how things might have been different if he wouldn't have claimed Glavine as the first signing of his scouting career.

"It gave me credibility," DeMacio said. "It changed a lot of things."

Coming out of Billerica (Mass.) Memorial High School in 1984, Glavine never had to wonder if he'd be drafted by a Major League Baseball organization. But still he's thankful that DeMacio's recommendation earned him a second-round selection and the chance to be part of an organization that would eventually pair him in the same rotation with Greg Maddux sand John Smoltz.

"He's always going to be a guy who has a special place in my mind in terms of my baseball career and how it all came about," said Glavine, who has returned to the Braves this season after spending the past five campaigns with the Mets.

When DeMacio, now a special assistant to Braves general manager Frank Wren, arrived at Spring Training on Tuesday, there was reason for extra excitement. The dawn of a new season has arrived, and for the first time since Aug. 5 -- when Glavine became the 23rd Major Leaguer to record 300 wins -- DeMacio was going to have a chance to personally congratulate his first signee.

Once they had the chance to say hello and share this latest heartfelt handshake, neither felt a need to verbally say "Thank you." Both know the importance the other has played in the successful careers they've enjoyed.

"There's that mutual appreciation for one another and what we have meant to one another's career," Glavine said. "There's definitely the very heartfelt, but unspoken, "Thank you" there. There's no question about that."

After taking his first job as an area scout with the Braves in 1983, DeMacio received a packet from then-Braves scouting director Paul Snyder detailing the players he needed to view in the New England area.

The first file DeMacio viewed detailed Thomas Michael Glavine, and to this day, DeMacio vividly remembers everything it contained, down to Glavine's home address.

DeMacio's first impression of Glavine on the mound was strong enough that the scout convinced Snyder to send cross-checker Lou Fitzgerald to Massachusetts to watch the young southpaw.

Although wintry conditions led to a negative second impression, DeMacio was still able to convince Snyder to have some of his other top scouts get one more look at Glavine. The third look was another positive one ,and a few months later the Braves drafted the accomplished athlete who had also been taken in the fourth round of NHL Draft by the Los Angeles Kings.

"You have to believe in what you saw the first time," DeMacio said. "If you've seen it once, you're going to see it again. You can't give up on your conviction."

Glavine's parents, Fred and Millie, proved to be tough negotiators as the Braves had some initial trouble signing the prized hurler. Then one day when he was back in Virginia preparing to move his family to Massachusetts, DeMacio got a call that an agreement had been reached and that he had to get to the Glavine house immediately.

Within a span of the whirlwind day that would follow, DeMacio flew to Massachusetts, signed Glavine, returned back to Virginia and then drove his family and their packed car to Carlisle, Pa, which served as a midway stopping point during their move.

What was then considered a stressful day can now be viewed as a monumental one by DeMacio, who has never been able to stop identifying Glavine as that same determined 18-year-old kid that he saw 24 years ago.

"He was a great competitor, a fierce competitor," DeMacio said. "He looked no different in high school than he does now, same look on his face. You could tell there just was something there."

When Glavine notched his 300th career win with the Mets last summer, DeMacio was on the road evaluating some of the Braves' Minor League talent. The kid he'd known had officially grown into a legend, and there was certainly reason for the scout to once again be proud about the successful start of his own career.

"It was a quiet proudness," DeMacio said. "I was extremely happy for him because he's always gotten his due, but I don't think he's gotten his due as much as a lot of guys. He's always been a quiet assassin."