Hall of Fame Pitcher Thomas "Tom" Glavine is like so many of us waiting for the chance to see our families.
“With COVID, it’s been over a year since I’ve been up to see my parents,” Glavine said.
The Billerica native returns to his hometown each year - a place he says is instrumental in his success. Glavine achieved what so many kids on the little league diamond dream of – a career in Major League Baseball.
“I wasn’t much different than most kids that age,” Glavine said. “I got on the mound and tried to throw the ball as hard as I could.”
Childhood friends say the lefty stoked fear in batters in those early games.
“You’d hope he wouldn’t show up and then his father would get him there at the last minute and you knew you were done,” said friend Ed Tierney.
The extremely humble Glavine credits his family and the town’s blue-collar work ethic for securing a major league contract right out of high school…. which he chose over a professional hockey contract.
“I’m a lefthanded pitcher and that’s a commodity. Thank god it worked out!” he joked.
A 22-year career spent with the Atlanta Braves and the New York Mets; he won a total 305 games and earned the National League Cy Young Award twice.
He even pitched in a major league game with his younger brother, Mike Glavine, who is now the head baseball coach at Northeastern University in Boston.
“It was probably just another game for him, but it wasn’t for me,” Mike said.
Both brothers say wearing their town’s jersey growing up gave them a special sense of community.
“You had that sense of pride and that town pride,” said Mike. “That’s who you identified with; that’s what you were,” Tom said.
The hall-of-famer donated to the community over the years and was sure to give a shoutout at his hall of fame induction in 2014.
“I know there’s a huge crowd here from Billerica here today,” Glavine said from the podium back in 2014.
“I was humbled to see how many people actually made the trek up there to Cooperstown,” he said recently.
To them, he’s just “Tommy.”
“All his fame and fortune he’s basically the same kid I grew up with,” said Tierney, who coached his four sons in baseball.
“You can come out of a small town and be successful and when you are… continue to support that town and give back,” Tom Glavine said.