A special day for a deserving man
Mets celebrate Glavine's 300th career win before game
NEW YORK -- Somewhere between the boats, the car and the compliments, Tom Glavine discovered precisely what it's like to be honored as one of the game's all-time greatest pitchers.
"To say that I'm humbled and flattered certainly would not scratch the surface of how I feel right now at this moment," Glavine told the Shea Stadium crowd during a pregame ceremony honoring his 300th win. "To you guys, the fans in New York, it's been a fun ride for me here. It really has."
The Mets provided the pomp, gathering Glavine's family and friends in a celebration to honor last Sunday's historic victory in Chicago. Closer Billy Wagner was on hand to present the lefty a pair of Sea-Doo jet skis on behalf of the team, while Lincoln-Mercury presented Glavine with the keys to a brand new Lincoln MKX luxury SUV. Hockey Hall of Famer Rod Gilbert gave Glavine two commemorative hockey jerseys, while the team also presented him with a board decorated with 300 golf balls and a decorative glass plate signed by his teammates and coaches.
Then came the speeches. Hall of Famer Tom Seaver was on hand to deliver a tribute, while Mets general manager Omar Minaya and COO Jeff Wilpon looked on. A video tribute delivered plenty more congratulations, from former teammates and coaches -- old Braves pitching coach Leo Mazzone offered him a "thanks for making me look smart" -- to baseball and hockey legends, such as Don Sutton, Gaylord Perry and Wayne Gretzky.
About the only bad vibes came when old friends John Smoltz and Bobby Cox showed up on the big screen, but even those boos eventually melted into cheers for Glavine's accomplishment.
And it's an accomplishment that even Glavine still can't believe.
"I didn't get into baseball thinking that an organization that I played with was ever going to have a day for me," Glavine said. "It's a pretty cool thing to be a part of."
The southpaw certainly wasn't the only one who was impressed.
"It's an exciting moment to see this happen," said Seaver, the only player in history to win a majority of his 300 games with the Mets. "It's just a tip of the hat for excellence over a long period of time."
Seaver, who recorded 198 of his 311 wins with the Mets, remains the winningest pitcher in team history. However, Glavine is the only pitcher to win his 300th game with the Mets, and one of only four pitchers -- Seaver, Nolan Ryan and Warren Spahn are the others -- to spend any part of a 300-win career with the club.
Yet Glavine, while comfortable with his achievement, isn't completely comfortable with all the attention that's followed. He's been in the limelight for months now, and that light has shined even brighter over the past week.
Which is not exactly the lefty's idea of a good time.
"I'm flattered by it, but I'm not all that comfortable with it," Glavine said. "I enjoy being in the spotlight when it's time for me to be on the pitcher's mound and go to work. But aside from that, I don't really care for it."
Not that sheepishness has had much effect. If Glavine normally shuns the spotlight, he relishes it every fifth day -- and needs to. Had pressure or attention ever affected him on the mound, he never would have made it this far.
"It's like you walk into your office and things begin to rock and roll," Seaver said. "And all the other stuff fades away, and you focus on your art form."
Glavine's art form lasted into the seventh inning last Sunday at Wrigley Field in an outing that couldn't have been more Glavine-esque. And that's precisely what that night was -- just another typical Glavine win. But add together 300 typical wins, and the sum is one atypical career.
"It's an unattainable goal when you start," Seaver said. "Those kinds of things happen to other people, and all of the sudden you're on the threshold of it, and you're still saying, 'What am I doing here? And why is this happening to me?'"
Even when Glavine came to New York from the Braves nearly five years ago, few thought he would ever achieve his 300th win. At that time, he was still thought of as an enemy to many at Shea, a representative of the Atlanta juggernaut that had ensured the Mets could never be more than second best for so many years.
Now, Glavine's a representative of the Mets' success. And now, he's endeared nearly everywhere.
"That's part of what's made all this fun for me," Glavine said. "My first game here was horrible. My first year here was -- I'm not going to say it was horrible, but it wasn't very good -- and things have steadily gotten better. And they've gotten better to the point that here we are now. And I think that five years into this, I've at least gained a level of respect in this city that I guess I had hoped to achieve."
Not to mention a number of wins -- 300 and certainly still counting -- that he never could have dreamed of achieving.
Anthony DiComo is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.