BOSTON -- He may forever be an Atlanta Brave upon his enshrinement into Cooperstown July 26, but Tom Glavine will always be a Massachusetts boy at heart.
In town for the 75th annual Boston BBWAA Awards Dinner, Glavine, two weeks removed from the announcement that he made it into the Hall of Fame in his first appearance on the ballot, spoke about his induction as well as his return to his hometown state.
"It's still all sinking in obviously,” Glavine said. “It's the kind of thing I can't really say I expected when my baseball career started but things worked out well. I'm honored, certainly proud and extremely humbled by it all.”
A native of Concord, MA, Glavine grew up in Billerica, MA, just over 26 miles away from Fenway Park. A talented hockey player in addition to a baseball star, Glavine was selected by the Los Angeles Kings in the fourth round of the 1984 NHL Entry Draft, as well as by the Atlanta Braves 47th overall in the same year’s amateur baseball draft, fifteen picks after current Red Sox manager John Farrell.
However, Glavine had hoped his name could have been called five picks earlier than it was.
“I was disappointed that I didn't get drafted by the Red Sox initially,” Glavine said. “When I was going through that whole process, they certainly were one of the teams that were around but for whatever reason they didn't draft me.”
Instead, the Red Sox selected John Marzano with their first round pick (14th overall) and Scott Wade with their second (42nd overall). Marzano went on to play six seasons at catcher for the Red Sox while Wade never made it past Triple-A Pawtucket.
Meanwhile, Glavine quickly made his way through the Atlanta Braves system, making his Major League debut at the age of 21 three years later. The left-hander went on to pitch 17 years in Atlanta and five seasons with the New York Mets, retiring in 2008 after 305 wins, two National League Cy Youngs and 10 All-Star selections.
“I think it’s one of those things that I certainly wonder what it would have been like to play [in Boston] but at the same time I know it is a difficult place to play, especially for hometown people,” Glavine said. “I'll wonder what it would have been like but I never had the chance."
Beyond the draft, the chance came once again during one offseason.
“Once I did get to the big leagues, there was one winter there where I was heavily rumored to be coming here [for Mike] Greenwell, or something. It never happened so it's one of those things, I guess much like my hockey past, I'll kind of wonder what could have happened.”
Now, Glavine spends his time with his family at his home in Alpharetta, GA, just over 27 miles north of the Braves’ Turner Field. A father of five in addition to serving as the Braves color commentator, Glavine said he doesn’t have much time to watch baseball recreationally. However, when he does, the Red Sox are often the team he turns on.
“If I sit home and I'm going to watch a baseball game I'm either watching a Braves game or I'm watching a Red Sox game,” Glavine said. “A lot of times the Red Sox will trumpet just because I don't get to see them that much.”
“You grow up here, it's in your blood, it's hard to get it out of your blood."
Glavine said one of his favorite players to watch is fellow left-hander Jon Lester, whose strong performance in last year’s postseason led the Red Sox to their third World Series title in the last decade. Lester’s pitching style inspires familiarity for Glavine, who played a key role in the Braves’ 1995 World Series run, winning the World Series MVP award.
“I love watching him pitch,” Glavine said. “That's the style of pitching that I like. Obviously he throws hard but it's not all about throwing the ball by people. He's thinking about what he's doing, he's mixing his pitches up well and I love his competitiveness. He takes the ball and looks like he just has the attitude when he goes out there that, ‘I’m going to beat you.’ I like seeing that kind of attitude."
Although Glavine admits to still being a Red Sox fan at heart, there is little doubt in his mind as to whether or not he would give it all back for the chance to pitch in Boston.
“I certainly don't have any regrets the way things worked out,” Glavine said.