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Tom Glavine officially retires, joins Braves front office

Feb 11, 2010, 3:25 PM EDT

Tom Glavine big.jpgAfter a year or so of denial, anger and bargaining, Tom
Glavine has finally reached acceptance,  officially ending the
playing portion of his baseball career.  He’s taking a job in the Braves’ front office as the assistant to team president John Schuerholz.  He’ll also do
a bit of broadcasting work, both on Braves radio and on FOX Sports
South, and will do appearances, special projects and that sort of thing
for Frank Wren and Bobby Cox.

I’ve long known that he would never pitch again, but this announcement
still makes me a little sad.  Mostly because I’ve always felt like Tom
Glavine and I grew up together. I was 14 years-old when I watched his
Major League debut. I was on vacation with my family in Myrtle Beach.
It was raining so we were hanging out in the hotel. I clicked on the TV
and the Braves were playing the Astros. Skip kept going on about how
young he was. He mentioned that Glavine had some promise, but made a
far bigger deal about him having been a hockey prospect.  Glavine got
shelled that day, giving up six runs on ten hits in less than four
innings.  To my untrained eye there was nothing special about him. I
remember thinking that maybe he made a bad decision giving up on the
hockey. I certainly had no idea that he’d save the franchise like he
did.

Of course Glavine matured, winning more games, becoming more confident
on the mound, winning Cy Youngs and leading the Braves to the World
Series multiple times. I was always a bigger Maddux fan than Glavine
fan, but I’ve never been more thrilled by a Braves’ pitching
performance than I was Glavine’s in Game 6 of the
1995 World Series. In some ways Maddux was that guy you always knew
would do well.  I know intellectually that Tom Glavine was supremely
talented as well, but having watched his debut, I always saw a bit of
that kid from 1987 in him. I always felt happier for him when he did
well, as if he were some underdog or something, even though he
obviously wasn’t. I rooted for him in ways that I never rooted for Maddux. I always felt he needed my chores a little more.

I’m guessing every fan of a certain age can identify with this.  Can
name the first guy whose whole career they watched really, really
closely. The first guy with whom they took the entire ride.  For me
that guy is Tom Glavine and the ride is now officially over.

Guess it’s time to get back in line and ride again.

  1. Old Gator - Feb 11, 2010 at 3:40 PM

    You always hate to see one of the great ones accept reality kicking and screaming. I guess for the most part the day of the great athlete going out on top with his dignity intact is over, so there’s not much to distinguish the way Glavine had to get shelled on the way out from any other over-the-hill ballplayer eking out the last miserable days of his career on the bench or in the consolation prize slot in the lineup reserved for the DH. Even so, much as I am a Feesh fan, it had to break your heart to watch a once dominating performer put the finishing touches on the Mutts’ great choke horror show with that seven-run sunset debacle a few years ago. I couldn’t watch it. The Buddha was merciful that I wasn’t there.
    .
    Retirement ain’t so bad, Tom. Fishing is good for the soul and the bays are full of mermaids.

  2. Nathan - Feb 11, 2010 at 3:41 PM

    That guy is Chipper Jones for me. I remember him breaking his leg in 1994 in the preseason, and not having to play LF.

  3. Stone - Feb 11, 2010 at 3:41 PM

    Jeez man, he didn’t die. This reads like an obituary.

  4. Phil - Feb 11, 2010 at 3:42 PM

    OK, you made me look it up. I was 39 when Glavine started out.
    First player I followed all the way through? Harmon Killebrew, even though I wasn’t a fan of his teams.

  5. smsetnor - Feb 11, 2010 at 3:52 PM

    I’m struggling to think of someone I followed all the way through for baseball. Frank Thomas is probably it for me. And I’m not even a White Sox fan. You figure being a Cubs fan and having a national broadcast, I’d be able to follow someone al the way through. But players move around so much and the Cubs stunk so bad. I don’t quite remember mark Grace or I’d say him.
    Sadly, even though I don’t care too much for NFL, I can say that I followed Keyshawn Johnson closer than anyone.
    btw, nice bit of writing, Craig. Got me all nostalgic.

  6. N - Feb 11, 2010 at 4:23 PM

    If it makes you feel better, it’s not an obituary for Tom Glavine, it appears to more be an obituary for Craig’s youth and vitality.
    Better GM prospect: Glavine or Maddux? Maybe Smoltz is waiting for his own front office job?

  7. old vet - Feb 11, 2010 at 4:26 PM

    wow children, for me it was the “say hey” kid’s career. Talk about a sad finish for #24.

  8. Dan D. - Feb 11, 2010 at 4:27 PM

    As a Mets fan I would have gladly have put him out to pasture or shot him and turned him into glue before his 1st inning implosion vs. the Marlins.

  9. Patrick - Feb 11, 2010 at 4:49 PM

    Dear Craig, Joe Brinkman’s zone for Glavine in Game 6 was like half of Fulton County, your treasured memory is a #$%@ing sham. Love, Cleveland

  10. Alan - Feb 11, 2010 at 6:58 PM

    Always one of my favorite people in baseball.
    I very clearly remember the first player whose career I followed intently, start to finish: Willie Randolph. I was 7 when he came over to the Yankees and was just starting to pay close attention to baseball. My dad said I should pick someone to be my “guy” and suggested Randolph, who I think was about 21 and had played about a quarter of a season with Pittsburgh. I’ve rooted for him ever since, even when he became the Mets’ manager. (I think one reason I embraced Bill James’ theories almost immediately is that they made Randolph look even better than I thought.)

  11. InnocentBystander - Feb 11, 2010 at 9:36 PM

    Oh, I love me some “five stages” references if for no other reasons that it always reminds me of the time Homer thought he ate bad fugu.
    Dr. Hibbert: Now, a little death anxiety is normal. You can expect to go through five stages. The first is denial.
    Homer: No way! Because I’m not dying! [hugs Marge]
    Dr. Hibbert: The second is anger.
    Homer: Why you little! [steps towards Dr. Hibbert]
    Dr. Hibbert: After that comes fear.
    Homer: What’s after fear? What’s after fear? [cringes]
    Dr. Hibbert: Bargaining.
    Homer: Doc, you gotta get me out of this! I’ll make it worth your while!
    Dr. Hibbert: Finally, acceptance.
    Homer: Well, we all gotta go sometime.
    Dr. Hibbert: Mr. Simpson, your progress astounds me.

  12. Rays fan - Feb 12, 2010 at 12:27 AM

    Ken Griffey Sr for me.

  13. excatcher - Feb 12, 2010 at 10:34 AM

    Jaime Moyer. Can someone please stop this ride now?
    (my guy was Ripken, actually)

  14. Ryan - Feb 12, 2010 at 11:18 AM

    I have a similar sentiment about a player I grew up watching CC – Roger Clemens. Unfortunately, the Roger Clemens ride ends up sending the entire coaster flying off the track and into a massive crowd of children and kittens.

  15. Jeremy - Feb 12, 2010 at 6:29 PM

    Mine was Will Clark, and it was great to see him go out on top, on his own terms.

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