Glavine joins 300 club vs. Cubs
Mets left-hander picks up historic win in Wrigley finale
CHICAGO -- One of the clubhouse attendants in Wrigley Field approached Tom Glavine on Sunday as a special evening was winding down and extended a hand with two baseballs. Glavine knew the drill. He signed on the sweet spots as he had done countless times. But he also knew he now was free to add a PS.
So under his signature -- which had become significantly more valuable 75 minutes earlier, Glavine added to the inscriptions. For the first times ever, he wrote 300 under his name. And, oh, how he liked the way that looked.
Now that three-digit figure is almost part of his name, like HOF is likely to become in five or six years. With a performance that reinforced his image as a brilliant pitcher, an intense competitor and a pretty competent batsman, Glavine forever changed his baseball identity Sunday night. No longer is he merely the two-time Cy Young Award winner or the five-time 20-game winner or the savvy left-hander who ...
Now, first, foremost and forever, Glavine is a 300-game winner. With a HOF chaser on order.
A comprehensive, Glavine-esque six-plus innings against the Cubs not only affected the change in ID, but also was the primary fuel in the Mets' less historic, less-than-artistic, 8-3 victory. On a night that established big-league record for sticky, Glavine persevered through heat and self-induced tension and against his 41 years and became the 23rd pitcher to reach 300, the fifth of the left-handed persuasion, the fourth with a strong Braves connection and the first to do so wearing a Mets uniform.
Even before the autograph request, he had given a signature performance, as if he has been asked to demonstrate how he had come to accumulate 299 victories. Glavine pitched well and he has used his head and his bat to enhance his chance. What else could he have done to make his 300th victory more representative of his body of work? "I guess I could have gotten out of bases-loaded jam by throwing a changeup away," he said.
But the Cubs hadn't offered that much resistance during Glavine's 6 1/3 innings, only six hits and a walk. They scored once before he departed, again immediately after Guillermo Mota replaced him and again when Pedro Feliciano allowed Mota's baserunner to score. But most to the subsequent sweating he and the Mets did was the result of the North Side sauna that enveloped Wrigleyville and made the conditions closer than the score.
"It was typical Tommy," Willie Randolph said in the dugout afterwards as the Mets toasted their most accomplished player in the clubhouse and a surprisingly large contingent of Mets fans gathered behind the visiting dugout and chanted "Tom-mee Gla-vine, Tom-mee Gla-vine."
"I was very touched by that," Glavine said. "And by the way I was received by the Cubs fans. I think their applause was a show of respect. And we all want to be respected."
Winning for the 300th time prompted a telephone call from Bud Selig and Fred Wilpon and hundreds of hugs and handshakes. But it didn't cause a spike in respect for Glavine. The game already had embraced him. The round number didn't make any more special.
Which is not to suggest he didn't want it. He wouldn't have fretted some of the night and most of the day if it hadn't been important to him. He wouldn't have said, "I know the company I'm in now and I'm as proud as I can be to be among them" if he had been unaware of the significance of his accomplishment.
He is the 23rd, he might be the last.
"I'm not saying I will be or that I want to be the last one," he said. "But it would be kinda cool."
With family, parents, former teammates, bosses and doctors, friends and all around him, Glavine barely had the opportunity to savor the achievement. His teammates savored for him. The Dom Perignon was opened and sipped. None of it was sprayed or spilled. "That's for October," Paul Lo Duca said.
After Glavine thanked his teammates for "putting up with all this," he reminded them of the unfinished business lingering since last fall. He may not play again next season -- his part of in baseball's unscheduled Milestone Weekend makes it less likely he will pitch beyond 2007. "But I'd like to keep pitching for a long time this year," he said.
"You mean there's more?" Billy Wagner said. "Now we have to go through 301?"
Wagner had produced the final three outs. The day he signed with Mets he said he hoped to save Glavine's 300th victory. But the margin for error the Mets produced by scoring twice in the eighth inning and once in the ninth eliminated the save opportunity. "I'm kind of glad it did," Glavine said.
He remained in the dugout to watch the Mets achieve the eight outs he left them. As Wagner faced four batters, Glavine's flawed poker face began to crack. "I was so happy to be getting this. It is a relief. At some point, I'm not sure when, the accomplishment part of it will take over. But right now, it's mostly relief."
The game had its uneasy moments even though the Mets scored the first five runs, against Jason Marquis, Glavine's former Braves teammate. The Mets' bullpen, which squandered a lead against the Brewers in Milwaukee on Tuesday and denied Glavine his milestone, put the victory in jeopardy again on Sunday. He acknowledged experiencing a "Oh, no. Not again" moment.
Glavine had batted in the seventh, adding a sacrifice bunt to a one-night resume that already included a run-scoring single, a walk and a ground ball that advanced a runner. And he faced two batters in the seventh, retiring one before a double by Angel Pagan prompted his removal.
Then it got antsy. But when Aaron Heilman replaced Felicano and closed out the seventh, even Glavine's nervous wife, Chris, sat back in here seat.
"This one wasn't getting away," Lo Duca said. "He knew that we let him down in Milwaukee. But we just played better tonight to make sure that wouldn't happen again."
Lo Duca had argued his way into the lineup after missing five games. He and Carlos Delgado, who had four RBIs, produced the two runs in the eighth. Delgado drove in another in the ninth. But the RBI of the night was Glavine's. He singled through the middle in he second to score Lastings Milledge with the first run.
"We were like, 'Go do it, drive in all the runs and pitch a one-hit shutout. ... This is your night,'" Lo Duca said.
"I think he was just afraid we would get him more than two runs, like the other night in Milwaukee," David Wright said. "But we put together some hits for him ... just because we like him and respect him."
The Mets gushed as they hailed their man. They didn't even get on him for delaying the bus, it's always been Glavine who pushes for prompt departures. But the celebration took time.
When it was over, players donned Mets blue T-shirts clubhouse manager Charlie Samuels had ordered for the occasion. An orange "300" and a silhouette of Glavine pitching were on the chest.
Always-dapper El Duque stepped from relative comfort of the Mets clubhouse into the stifling, wearing the shirt under a blazer and over a dress shirt. It went with nothing else he was wearing. But Orlando Hernandez was pleased with his layered look.
"Proud to wear it," he said. "I'm proud to wear a Tom Glavine shirt."
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.