(Long Island, NY) When the Mets signed Tom Glavine as a free agent in 2003, they knew that they were acquiring a future Hall of Famer. With one more win, the 41 year-old lefthander will make that as close to an automatic induction into Cooperstown as there is. Pitchers with 300 career wins have a way of finding their plaque in the hallowed halls.
On Wednesday night at Shea Stadium, Glavine took the hill to face the Pittsburgh Pirates and his teammates put up three runs in the bottom of the first inning. In the third, they padded their lead to six.
Glavine was pitching shutout ball through the first four frames before the Bucs got on the board in the top of the fifth. The inning was punctuated by a two-run home run by leftfielder Jason Bay. At the end of the inning, Glavine still was ahead, 6-3.
After six innings and 112 pitches, the ace of the Mets staff gave way to the bullpen and Aaron Heliman (two innings) and Billy Wagner (one inning, 23rd save) pitched perfectly to secure Glavine’s ninth win on the season and number 299 for his career.
“It wasn’t easy. I didn’t feel totally comfortable,” Glavine said after the game. “I’m trying to go out there and get in that groove where I’m locked in every night. I just haven’t had it. So tonight was one of those nights where every inning is a struggle. I was able to be good enough.”
On Tuesday night in Milwaukee, Glavine has his first chance at number 300 and join an elite list that includes only 22 others. “I’m proud of the company that I’m getting into and the company I’m being discussed with,” he said. “They are great players in the game. By no means do I think I’m there. There is still work to do and beyond that, I’m interested in getting on a roll and getting on it at the right time.”
The 300-win club in baseball reads like a who’s-who of the all-time greatest hurlers. Cy Young holds the one record (511 wins) that will probably never be passed. Walter Johnson, known as “The Big Train” and the Washington Senators’ legacy, may be alone in the 400-win category forever. The only active players on the list are Roger Clemens and Greg Maddux.
The big question is will Glavine be the last to win 300? Randy Johnson is the closest with 284 victories. But at 43 and with his bad back, will he have enough opportunities to win 16 more? Mike Mussina, 38, has 244 wins to his name, but has struggled this season at 5-7 with a 4.77 ERA.
“I don’t know. I’ve always felt that Randy [Johnson] would do it,” Glavine said when asked about him being the last one. “It’s hard for me to believe that a 300-game winner will never happen again. 20 years ago, no one looked at me and thought I would do it.”
The Concord, MA native has come a long way since his humble beginning with a struggling Atlanta club in 1987, finishing 2-4 with a 5.54 ERA in nine starts. Two decades later, Glavine has carved out a dominating career for himself that will one day be enshrined in Cooperstown gold.