Brave new world in upstate New York
* First class as always: on the field, off the field and at the podium as Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox, right-handers Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux were inducted in the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown on Sunday. .... 2014 Canadians drafted … Canadians in Minors … Canadians in college summer ball …. Canadians in College 2015 Canadian draft list Letters of Intent
By Bob Elliott
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. _ Every parent has had the tough drive home no matter the sport.
The trip after the bad game where drive time seems five times longer than the normal and the scheduled stop at The Dairy Queen won’t solve matters.
“I remember a hockey game that didn’t go well, I wasn’t behaving properly,” Tom Glavine told an estimated crowd of 48,000 at the Clark Sports Center Sunday afternoon.
“After a short time my father said -- and it’s a line I’ve use on my kids -- ‘either you go in with a smile on your face and come out with one, or I’m not taking you any more.’”
Glavine made the attitude adjustment, which helped him win 305 games and it’s why he was inducted into the Hall of Fame alongside former Braves ace Greg Maddux and manager Bobby Cox, plus Joe Torre, Tony La Russa and Frank Thomas.
Glavine, 48, said he recalls the drive like it happened yesterday.
“I was playing squirt hockey, what’s that 12 years old? I was pouting, didn’t want to talk about the game, I remember it vividly,” said Glavine later at the press conference. “My father didn’t pull the car over, but he put it in a way I understood quickly.”
With fans third largest induction crowd it seemed like a day game at either Fulton County Stadium or Turner Field with many fans doing the Tomahawk Chop wearing Glavine’s No. 47, Maddux’s No. 31 and Cox’s No. 6 jerseys.
The Braves front office chartered a 48-seat plane to fly from Atlanta to Albany N.Y. for the event.
“My parents worked hard to have the respect they have in my home town (Billerica, Mass.) I didn’t want to do anything to change that,” Glavine said in his speech. “I’m so proud when someone says ‘you must have had great parents.’ I did. I get my work ethic from my dad Fred and my stubbornness from my mom, Millie.”
Glavine explained his stubborness lent to him learning to throw strikes, to work on his mechanics and not give in to hitters.
As a high schooler he wanted to grow up to play for either the Boston Red Sox or the Boston Bruins. He was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in the fourth round and by the Braves in the second within a span of two weeks.
“I always wondered what would have happened with hockey. Luc Robitaille and Brett Hull were drafted after me and both made the hockey Hall of Fame. Does that means I would have been a hall of Famer too?”
Glavine praised Cox for always protecting his players.
“I’d have a really bad game, see the paper the next day, read all these nice things Bobby said about me and wonder what game was he watching?“ said Glavine.
Cox began by telling about sitting with broadcaster Steve Stone at an Arizona Fall League game when a fan asked the former Cy Young award winner to sign a ball. As the fan left, Stone said “don’t you want Bobby too?”
“Oh yeah,” said the fan, “you that guy from Atlanta that gets thrown out all the time,”
Cox said he was standing at the podium because of Maddux, Glavine and John Smoltz, who is eligible next year, and he gave a debt of thanks to his former Blue Jays bosses Paul Beeston and Pat Gillick saying: “when you talk about enjoying your job and having fun those two were the best.”
Cox said later there was no need to warm anyone up in the bullpen behind Maddux or Glavine “both could have talked another 12-13 minutes each.”
“I never considered pitching work because it was so much fun,” said Maddux, who praised his father Dave for hitting he and his brother Mike, pitching coach with the Texas Rangers grounders every day after work.
Maddux said he learned to pitch growing up in Las Vegas from instructor Ralph Meder that he needed movement, location, changing speeds and velocity -- “in that order.”
“Movement and location will last longer than throwing it hard,” said Maddux, winner of 355 games and four straight Cy Young awards.
He spoke fondly of his Cubs days when manager Gene Michael nicknamed Maddux “bat boy,” for his boyish looks and pitching coach Billy Connors asking “do you ever wonder how good you can be? Why don’t you go and try to find out.”
As a free agent he chose Atlanta “I wanted to win a World Series,” he explained to Cubs fans. “I watched the kids grow up and Smoltz’s hair line receed.”
Cubs executives Gary Hughes and Jim Hendry brought Maddux back in 2004. Picking between Atlanta and Chicago as to which he liked best was like “asking of my children I like best.” Maddux’s plaque doesn’t have a logo as he spent 12 years with the Cubs and 11 with the Braves.
Cox told of visiting Maddux, asking if he wanted to issue an intentional walk and Maddux said “I’ll get to pop him up on a 2-0 pitch to Chipper Jones.”
The hitter popped to Jones.
“Another night it’s late, score is tight they has runners on second and third, I go out and ask Tommy ‘put him on?’ and Tommy said ‘where do you want me to put him?’ I look over and there WAS a runner on first. I told them if this gets out in the press it’s a $1,000 fine.”
Cox said his late father is probably in heaven watching on TV.
“Switching back and forth between this and a ball game, where he second guessing both managers,” said Cox, who asked later. “You know the good thing about the Hall of Fame?”
“There’s no sophomore jinx.”
Not on my team: One thing you never heard a Braves player say under manager Cox “can we do the interview after we stretch?” That’s because old-school Cox never believed in any of that pre-game routine where much players spend time looking into the seats at fans or chatting with a buddy. Pre-game Cox would rather sit in a tiny room off the dugout, watch The Weather Network, NASCAR races, smoke a cigar and tell stories. None about himself.
“Bobby put all the onus on the player, if you want to play in the big leagues you’ll listen and do the things necessary to stay or you won’t,” said former Jay Mark De Rosa, and now a star with the MLB Network. “No team stretch. We went over fundamentals early in spring -- not during the season. It was amazing how guys would actually be ready to go. Winning was the overriding goal and everything else was eyewash.
“He was awesome and always told me the truth. I never wondered where I stood on that roster. If I had a $1 for every time he said, ‘I just don’t see you as an everyday guy, but I’m sure other teams will.”
De Rosa spent seven seasons under Cox, who he said was “crazy supportive” of his guys, letting veterans police the clubhouse. Cox would ask each spring when a player’s family was coming so he could give him that day off to take them to Disney.
“He allowed me to take my cell phone on the bench when wife was about to have our daughter. He is an awesome man.”
De Rosa said Cox would love Munenori Kawasaki because the infielder “knows the game and can do the little things.”
“I might get voted out of the Hall with that attitude, but that’s what I believe,” said La Russa. “It’s my two cents, but I think you should let them in, but with an asterisk. You can’t place these guys ahead of Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth. It was a bad period. But if a player has Hall of Fame credentials, I think they should be allowed in, a lot of them had Hall of Fame credentials before all this stuff came out.”
A matter of perspective: The Braves won their division 14 times and only one World Series while the Blue Jays won in 1992-1993 and the Florida Marlins won twice.
“It’s tougher to win 14 straight division titles than it is win two World Series in a given time,” Glavine told USA Today. “During that course of time, the Blue Jays won back-to-back and were gone. The Marlins have won a couple and look at everything that’s happened in between. From a players’ standpoint, given a choice would you rather win a couple Series and endure all those other bad years or would you rather have one World Series and 14 division titles?”
Winners: Texas Rangers broadcaster Eric Nadel was honoured with the Ford C. Frick award Saturday afternoon at Doubleday Field, while brilliant writer Roger Angell of the New Yorker magazine was presented the J.G. Taylor Spink award.
Georgia in upstate NY: Cy Young award winners Maddux and Glavine, along with manager Cox wore the Braves uniform, Cox for 25 years, Glavine for 17 seasons, Maddux for 11. Torre was with the Braves 12 seasons, nine as a player and three as a manager, La Russa played nine games with the 1971 Braves and Thomas was born in Columbus, Ga.
Sympathies: To Cambridge’s Rob Ducey, Philadelphia Phillies coach at class-A Clearwater. A funeral mass was held Saturday for his sister Patricia Ducey Fratarcangeli at Holy Rosary Church Saturday in Milton. Patricia was the step daughter of former Jays scout Ed Heather.