Cooperstowners in Canada: Tom Glavine

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When long-time Toronto Blue Jays fans talk about Tom Glavine, the first game they’re likely to mention is Game 1 of the 1992 World Series.

With the Blue Jays competing in the Fall Classic for the first time, the excitement surrounding the team had reached unparalleled heights. However, Canadian baseball fans were temporarily subdued when Glavine tossed a four-hit, complete-game gem in that inaugural contest, leading the Atlanta Braves to a 3-1 victory.

What Blue Jays fans tend to forget, however, was that the soon-to-be Hall of Famer was almost equally effective in Game 4 at the Rogers Centre. In that match-up, Glavine again pitched a complete game, holding the Jays to two runs on six hits. Unfortunately for the Braves ace, the combination of Jimmy Key, Duane Ward and Tom Henke was a little bit better and the Jays prevailed 2-1.

Glavine would not appear in that World Series again, which, of course, was won by the Blue Jays in six games.

But the 10-time all-star’s performance in that Fall Classic isn’t the only time he faced a Canadian team or pitched north of the border. In his 22-year big league career that saw him register 305 victories and garner two Cy Young Awards, Glavine, who will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame alongside Greg Maddux and Frank Thomas on July 27, faced off against Canadian players and teams on numerous occasions.

Here’s a rundown of some of his most notable Canadian links and performances:

– Glavine was chosen in the second round, 47th overall in the 1984 MLB amateur draft. The Montreal Expos selected three players before Glavine was taken by the Braves: catcher Bob Caffrey (13th overall), pitcher Norm Charlton (28th overall) and pitcher Dave Graybill (41st overall).

– The Toronto Blue Jays did not have a first-round selection in 1984. Their first-rounder was awarded to the Chicago White Sox as compensation for signing free agent reliever Dennis Lamp. The White Sox used that pick (20th overall) to chose right-handed pitcher Tony Menendez. The Blue Jays used their first pick (second round, 48th overall, one pick after Atlanta selected Glavine) to take right-handed pitcher Dane Johnson.

– Baseball wasn’t Glavine’s only professional sports option. The 6-foot, 175-pound left-hander was also selected in the fourth round (69th overall) by the Los Angeles Kings in the 1984 NHL Entry draft. The Kings GM at that time was Canadian Rogie Vachon. Glavine, a promising forward out of Billerica High School in Massachusetts, ultimately chose to pursue a career in baseball, in part, because he was a left-handed thrower. It’s interesting to note, however, that Glavine was selected two rounds ahead of Brett Hull and five rounds ahead of Luc Robitaille – both Hall of Famers – in the 1984 NHL draft.

– After opting to pursue a baseball career and signing with the Braves, Glavine was tutored on the finer points of pitching by Petrolia, Ont., native Bill Slack, who had been hired as a minor league pitching instructor by the Braves in 1985. Slack, who was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2002, also worked with John Smoltz and Steve Avery.

– Glavine made 28 starts at Olympic Stadium in Montreal and posted a 14-9 record and a 3.37 ERA. However, his best start against the Expos came at Turner Field in Atlanta on September 20, 1997 when he tossed a complete-game, two-hitter (one of seven two-hitters he threw in his career) to defeat the Expos 3-1. The Expos starter that day was Pedro Martinez, who also tossed a complete game and registered 12 strikeouts. Martinez won the National League Cy Young Award that season.

– Outside of his starts against the Blue Jays in the 1992 World Series, Glavine made five regular season starts against the Canadian club, compiling a 2-2 record and a 5.22 ERA. But one of his wins against the Blue Jays was also one of his best hitting performances. On June 28, 1998, Glavine recorded a single and a double and knocked in three runs off of Chris Carpenter at Turner Field to help his club to 10-3 romp over the Jays. His RBI total that game tied a career-best. On top of his heroics with the bat, Glavine limited the Jays to two runs on five hits over seven innings.

– Glavine was also the National League’s starting pitcher in the 1991 All-Star game that was played at the Rogers Centre (then the SkyDome) on July 9 that year. The crafty lefty pitched two scoreless innings, before handing the ball to Expos right-hander Dennis Martinez for the third and fourth inning. The American League eventually won the game 4-2. Fittingly, Blue Jays southpaw Jimmy Key was credited with the win.

– Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer Ernie Whitt caught 10 of Glavine’s games as a member of the Braves during the 1990 season.

– By my count, six Canadians walked to the plate against Glavine in the big leagues. Maple Ridge, B.C., native Larry Walker (24-for-80 with four home runs) and Trail, B.C., native Jason Bay (7-for-21 with two home runs) were the most successful. Corey Koskie (Anola, Man.), Russell Martin (East York, Ont.), Pete Orr (Richmond Hill, Ont.) and pitcher Ryan Dempster (Gibsons, B.C.) were considerably less successful, going a combined 2-for-21 off of the 2014 Cooperstowner.

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  1. Tom Valcke – Stratford, Ontario – Tom Valcke put his iCASE Baseball Academy as well as his position of Head Coach at George Brown College into hiatus, when Hong Kong brought him there in 2018 to serve as head coach of their Men's Olympic baseball team, where he finished with unprecedented success in the 2018 Asian Games held in Jakarta, Indonesia, spiking their WBSC World Ranking from #41 to #28 in just one year under his tutelage. China then scooped up Valcke, as he became the GM and Head Coach of Panda Sport and Culture, a division of the China Olympic Federation, overseeing baseball and softball, and training the national team coaches of baseball and softball, men's and women's teams. Panda Sport and Culture is based in Zhongshan, China's nationally recognized "#1 Baseball City," located on the southeast tip of China, and has a climate much like Florida. On his own initiative, he spent his evenings working with the local coaches of Zhongshan's local amateur youth baseball teams. For the first time in history, the same city won all four 2019 China National Championship gold medals, in 18U, 15U, 12U and 10U, that city being Zhongshan! Valcke worked with the China Baseball Association and Major League Baseball in helping the world's largest country accelerate their evolution into baseball, and helped them design and build a professional baseball stadium, a 600-room dormitory, and a new HQ for Panda Sport and Culture, where he held the role of CEO, in charge of a staff of 60. Valcke, former Technical Director, and Executive Director of Baseball Canada, and former coach of Team Canada, remains a baseball analyst with CBC Canada Radio and TV. The former president/CEO of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, who spent a decade as the Canadian Supervisor with the Major League Baseball Central Scouting Bureau, served as a television broadcaster for the Montreal Expos, the GM of the Calgary Cannons Triple-A club, and the CEO/Head Coach of the World Children's Baseball Fair. He is the proud father of Alanna, Jaxon and Mia, and lucky husband of Paula since 1987. Jaxon and Mia are current star players and captains, respectively, of the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds baseball and softball teams. Mia also became the second female in history to play in World Cups for Team Canada Women's baseball team as well as Team Canada Women's softball team. https://www.canadianbaseballnetwork.com/canadian-baseball-network-articles/baseball-nomad-valcke-a-top-amateur-executive http://www.wbsc.org/csta-prestige-awards-honors-tom-valcke/ https://cooperstownersincanada.com/2012/01/23/valcke-recognized-for-global-baseball-efforts/
    tomvalcke says:

    I eat this stuff up!!! Thanks Kevin! Tom

    Tom Valcke Field Manager/GM iCASE Baseball Academy International Canadian Academy of Sports Excellence http://icasebaseball.com Personal Email: valcke@quadro.net Cell: 519.703.4088

    1. cooperstownersincanada – Kevin Glew is a professional writer based in London, Ontario. His work has been featured on CBC Sports, Sportsnet.ca, MLB.com and Sympatico.ca. He has also written articles for Baseball Digest, Baseball America, The Hockey News, Sports Market Report and the Canadian Baseball Network. He has been involved with the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame for more than 16 years, including a two-year stint as the museum's acting curator.
      cooperstownersincanada says:

      Thanks, Tom. It’s good to know that someone else appreciates it. It’s hard to believe the Expos had three chances to select Glavine and didn’t. But that’s easy for me to say in hindsight.

    1. cooperstownersincanada – Kevin Glew is a professional writer based in London, Ontario. His work has been featured on CBC Sports, Sportsnet.ca, MLB.com and Sympatico.ca. He has also written articles for Baseball Digest, Baseball America, The Hockey News, Sports Market Report and the Canadian Baseball Network. He has been involved with the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame for more than 16 years, including a two-year stint as the museum's acting curator.
      cooperstownersincanada says:

      Thanks for the comment, Scott. Dempster was 0-for-7 as a hitter against Glavine, so I imagine they pitched against each other at some point. I couldn’t think of an efficient way of finding out when the two faced off.

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