2009 NEWS

2009 NEWS > 12/13/09


By Michael Wetzel, Decatur Daily

Tom Glavine seems quite content winning 305 games as a major league pitcher. The 43-year-old said his pitching days may be over but he’s not completely closing that door.

“Most likely, I’m finished. I haven’t decided anything official,” Glavine said during a visit to Decatur last week. “It’ll take a lot for me to go anywhere else. I’ve already done that, but if a perfect opportunity comes up, I’ll look at it.”

On June 3, the Atlanta Braves released the veteran left-hander, who won 244 games pitching in Atlanta for 17 years. He was coming back from surgery on his left elbow and shoulder when he was cut loose. Three weeks later, he said he was finished pitching for the season and avoided uttering the word “retired.”

He spent five years in New York, going 61-56 for the Mets from 2003-2007. Along the way, he won two Cy Young Awards and the MVP Award of the 1995 World Series when the Braves beat the Cleveland Indians. If his playing career is over, he is at least five years away from possible induction into baseball’s Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Residing in the Atlanta area, he said he’s looking into working with the Braves in some capacity, either in the front office or the broadcast booth.

“Whatever I do next will be something I want to do. It will be something that meshes well with my family. That’s a priority,” he said.

Glavine served as a coach of his sons Peyton, 11, and Mason, 9, hockey teams in the Silver Sticks Regional Tournament in Decatur and Huntsville last week.

As a youngster growing up in the Boston area, Glavine said he followed hockey’s Bobby Orr and Terry O’Reilly and baseball’s Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice and Freddy Lynn. In high school, he excelled in hockey and baseball. As a senior, he won the Carlton Award presented by the Boston Bruins to a prep player with outstanding hockey skills and academic excellence.

In the 1984 amateur draft, the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings used their second pick, the 69th overall, to select Glavine, a 6-foot-0, 180-pound play-making forward. That same year, the Atlanta Braves selected Glavine in the fourth round.

Glavine went two rounds ahead of Brett Hull and five rounds (102 picks) in front of Luc Robitaille, both 2009 NHL Hall of Fame inductees.

“I have no regrets not going into hockey,” he said. “I’m curious what would have happened. I was fortunate to have had an opportunity to play either one of the sports and I think at the end of the day, I made the right decision. Being a left-handed pitcher certainly was a help in my baseball career. It gave me a huge advantage in baseball that I didn’t have in hockey. I missed playing the game, and that wondering side of it will never go away.”

Glavine said he played hockey much like he pitched, using skills and finesse.

“I wasn’t the fastest skater,” he said. “I didn’t have the hardest shot, but at the end of the day I got the job done, and those watching are asking, ‘How’s this guy doing it?’ I took a lot of pride in playing on both sides of the rink.”

In his 22-year major league career, Glavine made 682 starts and struck out 2,607 of the 18,604 batters he faced.

In the 1990s, Glavine made up a quarter of the most-feared pitching rotation in baseball, joining Greg Maddux, John Smoltz and Steve Avery.

“Pitching with those guys was a great experience,” Glavine said. “There was always something you could take away from what those guys brought to the table. If you couldn’t take 100 percent of something, there’s always bits and pieces you could incorporate into your game.”

He went on to single out Maddux, a four-time Cy Young winner.

“He made his teammates better by just watching him work. He is a very simple person. He never tried to bring attention to himself,” Glavine said. “But he was very complex how he went about his pitching. He’s one of the smartest persons I’ve been around in the game; a tremendous competitor.”

As coach of the Atlanta Fire of the Squirt BB team, Glavine praised the Silver Sticks tournament in Decatur and Huntsville.

“It’s one of those tournaments you circle on your calendar at the beginning of the season,” he said. “The organizers have done a nice job with this tournament. It’s great to see the quality of play of the kids here.

Of the Point Mallard Ice Complex, he said, “Decatur’s got a nice facility here. It’s got a good playing surface and great locker rooms, and as coaches, that’s what we’re looking for. A lot of the coaches told me they used to play in the outdoor arena here.”