I gave all my thoughts on Frank Thomas the other day, so I thought it was only fair that I at least mention Tom Glavine, who also officially retired last week.
I was never a Braves fan in my youth, so this guy was not nearly as big a part of my life. I have no great memories of watching him pitch when he was in his prime, and I always preferred Greg Maddux as far as dominant Braves pitchers went. In fact, I favored John Smoltz too. I think it was his postseason prowess that impressed me so. Now, there’s a guy who should be a first ballot Hall of Famer.
Well, I guess this whole Tom Glavine tribute hasn’t started out so well. Then again, I never said it would be a tribute.
Let’s see now, what memories do I have of the southpaw? (Thinking) (Thinking) Oh yeah, he was the signature on my second baseball glove. When I first got it, I thought the autograph was John G. Lavine. I spent a few days disappointed that I got a dud and trying to find out who this Mr. Lavine was, before I finally figured out that it said Tom Glavine.
My other Tom Glavine memory comes from actually seeing him pitch. It was the twilight of his career when my brother and I took the ‘L’ out to Wrigley Field to see the Cubs and the Mets on August 5, 2007. The evening was a problem for many reasons. First, when I got the tickets, I was told specifically that the seats were not obstructed. Usually they don’t tell you that. I should have known something was up. In fact, the seats were right behind home plate, but more directly, right behind a pole. That meant the entire center of the field was blocked for us, center field, second base, the pitcher’s mound and home plate. Not that that’s an important part of the field or anything, but it would be nice to be able to see it all.
Anyway, I wasn’t going to let the poor seats ruin my game. I went off to pick up my scorecard. The only problem is that there wasn’t a scorecard. Anywhere. In the entire ballpark every single scorecard was sold out.
Why was this such a problem?
Because Tom Glavine was sitting on 299 wins! I wanted a scorecard to commemorate a possible 300th victory, maybe my only chance to witness such an event.
Well, there was nothing else I could do about it, so I slouched into my seat and leaned over for the majority of the game hoping I would catch some of what was going on. It was an interesting affair. Alfonso Soriano injured himself, which probably cost the Cubs 100 victories that season, Kerry Wood came back from injury to the loudest ovation I’ve ever heard at a baseball game (that was fun), and eventually I found an open seat from which I could see some of the game.
It would have been better if I took my own picture at this game.
The whole stadium was crawling with Mets fans, a fact that bothered me unspeakably. Regardless of who you’re rooting for, there’s a very uneasy feeling associated with having the visiting fans dominate an opposing ballpark. I think so, anyway. The New York fans had plenty to cheer for, though. Glavine pitched a fine ballgame and Jason Marquis pitched for the Cubs (’nuff said).
Glavine left in the 7th with a 5-2 lead, but the Mets padded their lead with a few late scores and it was 8-3 as Billy Wagner came on to finish the game in the ninth. There was a feeling of excitement pulsing through the park, and although the Cub fans were still pulling for the Cubs, you could see them start to give in to the moment a little bit. And as angry as I was all game with the Met faithful, I joined them whole heartedly when Mike Fontenot ended a long at bat with a groundout to second for the final out.
There’s nothing you can do during such a moment other than to cheer and just be impressed. In the history of baseball, only a couple hundred thousand people have ever witnessed a pitcher’s 300th victory live, and to be one of them was pretty special. So to Tom Glavine, one of the game’s classiest guys and one of the great pitchers of the last several decades, I raise my glass. Cheers.
I just wish I had a scorecard from the game.