1995 NEWS

1995 News > 10/29/95


By Hal Bock, The Augusta Chronicle

For Tom Glavine, pitching the World Series clincher Saturday night was the climax of a long, difficult journey, one that began in an almost empty ballpark on an almost hopeless team.

His magnificent one-hitter over eight innings was his second victory in the Series and made Glavine the Most Valuable Player in the six-game victory over the Cleveland Indians.

Glavine became the first pitcher to win the MVP award since Jack Morris in 1991. Lew Burdette was the last Braves pitcher to win the World Series MVP in 1957. Glavine is now 4-2 with a 1.83 ERA in six career World Series starts, and his ERA tied Waite Hoyt for ninth-best among pitchers who have thrown 40 or more innings in the World Series.

But things were not always as sweet in Atlanta as they were after the 1-0 victory in Game 6.

Glavine arrived in Atlanta in 1987, during the darkest days of the Braves depression, when the ballclub routinely was out of the race in mid-summer, drawing more mosquitoes than fans.

Greg Maddux wasn't around then. Neither was Fred McGriff or David Justice or any of the others in the current cast. There was just Glavine, trudging out to take the punishment.

A year later, John Smoltz showed up along with Jeff Blauser as Atlanta began piecing together a competitive team. Glavine was 7-17 that season, a lost soul. He went 14-8 in 1989, the first hint that the left-hander from Concord, Mass., was more than just another Atlanta arm.

"He started really pitching really good in 1990," manager Bobby Cox said. "He had a bad record and all that, but our defense was horrible then. We added some guys in '91 and he really came to the forefront."

After going 10-12 in 1990, Glavine won 62 games in the next three seasons, including 20-11 in 1991, when he won the Cy Young Award. He was the ace of the staff, until Maddux came along and started winning the Cy Young Award every year.

In fact, though, over the last five years, despite Maddux's emergence as the best pitcher in baseball, Glavine has more wins, 91-90.

"He's a great trivia guy," Cox said, "Nobody really knows that he won 20 games three years in a row. Your average fan does not know that. He's been a stabilizer, the most consistent pitcher in the league, probably, during those five years."

In the middle of that stretch, there was one awful disappointment. With a chance to pitch the clincher in the 1992 League Championship Series against Pittsburgh, Glavine started Game 6. He was battered for eight runs in the second inning and although the Braves won the pennant in Game 7, the failure gnawed at him.

"There isn't a whole lot I want to remember about that game, to be honest with you," he said. "It was not a good game, and I'm certainly not going to take that out there with me.

"Those things happen. As a pitcher sometimes you're not going to have very good days, and unfortunately for me on that particular day it came in Game 6 of a playoff series and forced a seventh game. But that happened to me two years ago, and if I'm not over it by now, then I'm going to be in trouble."

During the strike that ended the 1994 season, Glavine was one of the outspoken players, attending many of the negotiating sessions as the Braves player rep.

"He's been a tough guy," Cox said, "a great team leader and a good representative for the city of Atlanta."

And on Saturday, he delievered the ultimate gift to the town--its first professional sports championship.