1994 NEWS

1994 News > Hard Work, Loyalty, Unity


By IJ Rosenberg, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

To hear Tom Glavine talk about his father is touching.

"He started working construction when he was 16 years old and hasn't stopped since," said the Braves pitcher. "He worked paycheck to paycheck to put food on the table to take care of his kids and his family. He certainly never had any kind of pension fund or anything saved up for him. He never had any money saved.

"I'm not going to say that I went without things that I needed. My dad always found a way to get what I needed, new school clothes or a glove or a new pair of cleats. But we certainly went without things that we wanted."

After hearing this, it is easy to see why Glavine is so caught up in the labor issue, why he takes being the Braves' player representative so seriously. Much like his dad, he is a fighter for what he thinks are his rights, though this isn't your typical management-labor confrontation.

"Contrary to what people think, that we are a bunch of geeedy, overpaid rich little brats, I think all the players appreciate what it took to get here, the time we spent in the minor leagues," said Glavine. "There are a lot of things that people never saw us go through. We had to strike. We had no choice. Players did it before us,they will do it after us."

And Glavine realizes that because of his stance, and because he basically speaks for the Atlanta players, he is certainly not the most popular person in town these days. But Glavine goes on, giving the players' side, ready to jet to New York for a meeting when necessary, stuck much of the day with a telephone at his ear."

"I understand there are going to be people that don't like me because I'm outspoken," he said. "But my dad told me you have to stand up for yourself, you got to."

Glavine became the club's player representative during the 1990 season when Dale Murphy gave up the job.

"He was at the point in his career where he didn't want to do it," said Glavine of Murphy. "It is kind of one of those jobs that typically goes to a player that is established and isn't necessarily on the bubble as far as the team or career is concerned. At that point in our clubhouse, I was one of the few guys that had been around."

So Glavine learned about the workings of the Basic Agreement. He attended meetings, read memos and held sessions with his teammates. The job is not a paid one, though he does have an assistant--Kent Mercker.

And Glavine, like about every other player, quickly learned how important it is to stick together. It is interesting that while the owners continue to break ranks and criticize their leaders, the players never rip the union.

"Hey, we are being threatened; it is easy to see why guys stick together," said Glavine.

Many of the reps are like Glavine, wanting to make the right decision instead of perhaps a quick and easier one that may hurt them in the long run.

"I haven't seen any situations in any meetings where guys have gotten ticked off, just gone off on a tangent, yelling and screaming," he said. "We discuss it, go through our options and listen to what the union has to say."

Some say the decisions are made by union chief Don Fehr, not the players. Glavine disagrees.

"Don is somebody we respect tremendously, somebody that we think is just as informed as anybody on how this Basic Agreement works and what makes it go," he said. "We listen to his opinions a lot, but Don doesn't make our decisions.

Glavine is also the assistant to league player rep Jay Bell of Pittsburgh. That means Glavine is on the executive committee, which he says, "has the authority to say yes or no to a proposal. Then we have to go back to our players to get it ratified."

And Glavine is becoming a very strong voice among the players.

"I'm in a position as a player where I have obviously established myself," he said. "Not to say that I'm a superstar, but people look at me as being more established. Part of the reason why you see me in a lot of interviews, a lot of quotes, is I just think I make myself accessible to people. I don't shy away from it. This is important to me."