2010 NEWS

2010 NEWS > 8/6/10


Carroll Rogers, AJC.com

Just like his approach on the mound, Tom Glavine has had a habit of staying away, away, away, just out of reach of batters and at times the understanding of some fans.

His relationship with the Braves faithful has been complicated, during his time as a Braves representative for the players’ union, five years spent with the NL East rival Mets and ultimately a contentious release from the Braves in his comeback attempt last June.

But on Friday it was simple.

Glavine was welcomed into the Braves Hall of Fame with a standing ovation from 830 fans at a sold-out luncheon at the Omni hotel. Dressed in a gray suit and purple tie, the color picked out by his wife Chris, Glavine shook hands with Braves president John Schuerholz and took his place as the 22nd member of the Braves Hall of Fame.

During a pre-game ceremony at Turner Field on Friday night, he will become only the seventh Brave ever to have his jersey number retired.

“This is the right place for me to be,” Glavine said shortly after being inducted at the luncheon. “This is the way this thing should have all ended.”

Glavine won his 300th game in 2007 as a New York Met. He didn’t retire so much as a Brave as got released. But for the next big occasion, he felt like he was back home.

“Obviously me and the organization have had our rifts over the years, unfortunately, but that’s a part of the business,” said Glavine, now 44 and working as a part-time Braves broadcaster and special assistant to Schuerholz. “I’m just thankful and fortunate when all was said and done, we were all able to be big boys and put our differences aside and get things back to where they belong.”

Glavine was the only home grown member of the “Big Three” of Greg Maddux, Glavine and John Smoltz. He was drafted and signed by Braves scouts Paul Snyder and Tony DeMacio 26 years ago. Those two were among the many people Glavine thanked during a 30-minute speech after his induction, including his parents Fred and Millie Glavine, his siblings, his wife and five children.

Glavine remembered the butterflies he felt as an 18-year-old flying down to Bradenton, Fla., for rookie ball with the Braves, the struggles he had losing 17 games in 1988 his first year in the big leagues. In the old mullet photos he can laugh at now – one of which was shown on big screens at the luncheon – he was wearing a Braves uniform.

Glavine was the man on the mound for one of the most spine-tingling nights in Atlanta sports history, when he shut out the Cleveland Indians for eight innings in the clinching game of the 1995 World Series, which the Braves won 1-0 on David Justice’s solo homer.

As stoic as Glavine always was on the mound, former Braves pitching coach Leo Mazzone gave some insight into how intense he actually was during the course of a game, especially that World Series.

“Tommy came in after fifth inning, it was 0-0, he said, ‘Would somebody score a bleeping run because they’re not,’” Mazzone said during a storytelling session at the luncheon with Chipper Jones and former Brave Javy Lopez.

The program included video messages from Steve Avery, Maddux and Smoltz.

“You did a lot for the game, a lot for the people around you,” Maddux said. “You made your teammates better, the sign of a true pro. What can I say, dude, 300 games, congratulations. That was awesome.”

Glavine won 305 games for his career, good for 21st on the all-time career list. He’s the second winningest left-hander in Braves history behind Warren Spahn. He won 20 games five times. He’s a two-time Cy Young award winner, four-time Silver Slugger winner, a 10-time All-Star and World Series MVP.

The Hall of Fame took his spikes to Cooperstown after Game 6 of the 1995 World Series. He’ll get voted in himself soon if not immediately after his five-year waiting period is up. But in some ways, this induction was more poignant that Cooperstown can be, given his relationship with Atlanta.

At one point at the very end of his speech, he paused and then said:

“I know that not everybody likes me, or liked me,” Glavine said. “I understand that. That’s the nature of life, nature of sports….I hope that at the end of the day whether you liked me or didn’t, you at least respected me when I went on the field. That I represented the organization to the best of my ability and tried to give you 100 percent of what I had.”

At times, in recent years, his family wasn’t comfortable coming to Turner Field, Glavine acknowledged. His son Peyton struggled when hearing boos from Braves fans when he was with the Mets. But that’s changed now.

“I would have been disappointed had this not happened and I continued to live here in Atlanta and my kids don’t get to appreciate being a part of the organization that their dad made his biggest mark in,” Glavine said. “I want my kids to be Braves fans. I want my kids to want to go down to the ballpark. And for a little while there that wasn’t happening. Now it is. You feel like you’ve come full circle.”