1992 NEWS

1992 News > Center of Attention


By Joe Posnanski, The Augusta Chronicle

He walks a few steps and then the man holding the Instamatic camera screams toward him. "Hey Tom." He stops, smiles, the camera's flash goes off, and he walks another two steps, when the little kid reaches up with a pen. "Hey Tom." He signs the paper, and takes three quick steps, but the two teen-age girls catch his eye. They smile their braces smiles. "We love you Tom."

"Thanks," Tom Glavine says.

"What a pretty smile he has," says the gray-haired woman a few feet away.

He is Elvis. One of the Beatles. James Dean on a good day. He is Tom Glavine, pitcher for the Atlanta Braves, and he walks around the people at Shoppes of Port Royal Wednesday, and they all idolize him.

Braves Mania is for real.

"I guess I'm a little surprised at what length people will go through to get an autograph," Glavine says. "I see them standing in long lines just waiting, and that always surprises me."

He steps to the podium to sign autographs. Glavine, 1991 Cy Young Award winner, is in town with teammate Pete Smith to sign autographs and promote the March of Dimes WalkAmerica.

He sits down at a table, and from there he can see the maze of people circling the mall. They wrap around the escalator on one end, and they back up through the glass doors on the other end, and it looks like some complex pattern of Dominos. How many people? About 2,500 is the official estimate. Some say it's closer to 4,000.

Glavine just shakes his head and shrugs.

"Everywhere we go, there have been crowds,'' he says to a television camera. The lines follow Glavine. People lined up for him at the Radisson Hotel earlier in the afternoon, where he and Smith signed a few autographs at a private party while the man at the piano played "Straighten Up and Fly Right." They line up for him in cities like Augusta and Macon and Columbus and any other Georgia town you can name.

After two straight World Series appearances, the Atlanta Braves are the hottest thing going.

Wednesday in Augusta, Glavine is the Atlanta Braves.