Thursday, June 4, 2009

Tom Glavine and the Hall

The word "unceremoniously" seems to apply to this situation:

Tom Glavine's second go-round with Atlanta ended in abrupt, businesslike fashion, which is perhaps appropriate for a player who, as the Braves' player representative during the acrimonious negotiations that led to the 1994 strike, knows better than most the business side of the game.

Unless some other team takes a chance on him, it appears that Glavine's next stop is Cooperstown. With 305 career victories and two Cy Young Awards, he's a lock to get in on the first ballot.

Thinking back on it, I'm trying to recall other Hall of Fame players who received such apparently ignominious treatment by their longtime clubs. I mean, most great players get the opportunity to retire on their own terms, but not all. Here's what I've come up with off the top of my head (by no means an exhaustive list):

- Babe Ruth, who was released by the Yankees abruptly after he thought he'd get a chance to manage the team. (To the Yankees' credit, they obviously recognized that Ruth would not have been a good manager.)

- Steve Carlton, who was released by the Phillies in the middle of the 1986 season. He then signed with the Giants, who kept him for about a month then released him. Of course, Carlton had pitched horribly for both teams and should have retired on his own, so it's hard to blame the teams.

- Honus Wagner, who at the end of his career feuded with Pirates owner Barney Dreyfuss so badly that Wagner had nothing to do with the Pirates club for two decades.

- Juan Marichal, who was sold by the Giants to the Red Sox after 14 seasons in San Francisco.

- Tom Seaver, who was accidentally placed on waivers by the Mets.

- Casey Stengel, whose departure from the Yankees after the 1959 season practically redefined "unceremonious." Stengel was basically fired for being too old.

Now, to be fair, in Glavine's case (and probably in the case of others on this list) what may have happened is that the team encouraged him to retire and he just didn't want to. (There is a complicating factor that Glavine would have earned a $1 million bonus if had made the club's active roster, so it looks like the Braves were just trying to save a buck, whether that's true or not.)

Whatever the circumstances, it's never fun when the business of baseball smacks a future Hall of Famer in the face so hard.

1 comment:

Stephen said...

Stengel was fired after the 1960 season and WS, and while he was released for being "too old" he did make a series of bizarre moves in the WS vs. the Pirates. In fairness to the Yanks, Ralph Houk did guide them to WS titles in 1961 and 1962, before losing the WS in 1963 and then turning the raines over Yogi for the 1964 season. After that, the Yankee dynasty collapsed, as Topping and Webb stripped the franchise bare in anticipation of selling the team.