Atlanta Braves (1987-2002, 2008), New York Mets (2003-2007),
Elected to the Hall of Fame by Baseball Writers: 2014
Tom Glavine never lit up the radar gun, so opposing batters
often came to the plate anticipating a good at-bat.
But in most cases, those same batters trudged right back to
the dugout – victimized by a steely-eyed strike thrower who overwhelmed opponents
with control and determination rather than speed.
Glavine, whose 305 victories are surpassed by only three
other left-handers in history, is now on his way to the Hall of Fame.
Born March 25, 1966
in Concord, Mass.,
and raised in the Boston suburb of Billerica,
Glavine lettered in both ice hockey and baseball in high school. He was
selected in the fourth round of the 1984 National Hockey League entry draft by
the Los Angeles Kings, but chose baseball when the Braves tabbed him with a
second-round pick that same year.
By 1987, Glavine was in the majors as the Braves assembled a
young rotation – including John Smoltz and Steve Avery – that would power the
franchise for years to come. After losing a big league-worst 17 games in 1988,
Glavine went 14-8 in 1989. Over the next 18 seasons, Glavine would post only
three more losing seasons.
In 1991, Glavine led the Braves to the National League West
title – a worst-to-first story for a team that finished last in 1990. Glavine
was 20-11 with a 2.55 earned-run average and a league-leading nine complete
games, earning the National League Cy Young Award. He helped the Braves advance
to their first World Series in Atlanta,
where they fell to the Twins in seven games.
It was the start of a stretch of 14 straight first-place
finishes (in complete seasons) for the Braves, an all-time record.
Glavine became well known for his calm demeanor on the mound
and his dogged refusal to give in to batters. He would paint the outside corner
with pitch after pitch, expanding the strike zone ever so slightly throughout
the game. He walked 1,500 career batters because he would not throw pitches
down the middle of the plate – even if he was behind in the count. The result
was more than 5,800 base runners in 4,413.1 innings, but hardly any huge
scoring outbursts that drove him from games.
Glavine notched 20-win seasons in both 1992 and 1993,
finishing second and third (respectively) in the Cy Young Award voting. The
Braves fell to the Blue Jays in the 1992 World Series, then lost to Philadelphia
in the 1993 National League Championship Series.
Glavine was 13-9 in the strike-shortened 1994 campaign, then
was 16-7 in 1995 – finishing third in the Cy Young Award voting. In the World
Series, Glavine threw eight-shutout innings in Game 6 against a powerful
Indians lineup, earning a 1-0 victory and wrapping up the Fall Classic title
for the Braves. He was named the World Series Most Valuable Player after going
2-0 with a 1.29 ERA.
From 1996 through 2002, Glavine averaged almost 17 wins a season
while earning another Cy Young Award in 1998 following his 20-6 campaign.
Glavine won 21 games in 2000 and finished second in the Cy Young Award voting,
all while maintaining his status as one of the game’s most durable pitchers.
From 1990 through 2007, Glavine started at least 32 games a season – except for
the 1994 and 1995 seasons that were shortened by the labor dispute. In that
stretch, Glavine led the NL in starts six times, including four in a row from
1999 through 2002.
Glavine left the Braves following the 2002 season, signing
with their NL East rival the New York Mets. In five seasons in the Big Apple,
Glavine won 61 games – including his 300th win on Aug. 5, 2007, becoming just
the 23rd pitcher (and fifth left-hander) to reach that plateau.
Glavine returned to the Braves in 2008 at the age of 42, but
suffered the first major arm injury of his career and went just 2-4 in 13
games. The next season, Glavine attempted a comeback from shoulder and elbow
surgery in the minor leagues before being released on June 3, 2009, ending his big league
career. At the time, he was the winningest active pitchers in the major
Glavine’s career numbers: 305-203 with a 3.54 ERA and 2,607
strikeouts. He was named to 10 All-Star games, earned Cy Young Award votes in six
seasons and won four Silver Slugger Awards as a pitcher. His 682 games started
ranks 12th all-time.