NEW YORK -- When Tom Glavine enters the National Baseball Hall of Fame this July, he will quite obviously do so with a Braves cap on his plaque. Glavine began his career in Atlanta, ended it in Atlanta, earned two National League Cy Young Awards in Atlanta and won his only World Series championship in Atlanta.
Yet tucked within that career was a five-year stint with the Mets, whose "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em" acquisition rocked the NL East.
Glavine never won a title with the Mets, though he did reshape the edges of his legacy. In headlining Cooperstown's Class of 2014 on Wednesday alongside Greg Maddux and Frank Thomas, Glavine became the 13th former Mets player to enter Major League Baseball's most hallowed club, joining Yogi Berra, Warren Spahn, Willie Mays, Duke Snider, Tom Seaver, Richie Ashburn, Nolan Ryan, Gary Carter, Eddie Murray, Rickey Henderson, Roberto Alomar and Joe Torre.
Seaver is the only one of that group with a Mets cap on his plaque; like Glavine, all the others were better known for their work with other teams. That could change if and when Mike Piazza enters Cooperstown, but in his second year on the ballot, the former Mets catcher fell short of the 75 percent of the vote needed, appearing on 62.2 percent of the ballots. The next-closest former Met was Jeff Kent, who finished with 15.2 percent of the vote.
That left only Glavine, whose five largely successful years in Flushing lacked the eye-popping statistical attributes of his 17 seasons in Atlanta. Partially because Glavine tormented the Mets to the tune of a 17-7 record with a 2.82 ERA in 36 career starts, New York signed him to a four-year, $42.5 million contract prior to the 2003 season, just before his 37th birthday. He later inked an additional one-year deal, finishing 61-56 in Flushing with a 3.97 ERA.
"I would summarize it as a great five years of my career," Glavine said. "I had a lot of fun in New York. I certainly made a lot of great friends there as teammates and people within the organization. It was a great experience being in New York and playing in New York. It's an experience, I think, every player should have."
Two games stood out. On a steamy August night in 2007, Glavine earned his 300th career victory at Wrigley Field in Chicago, later calling himself "as proud as can be to be in that company." He would win only five more, finishing 305-203 with a 3.54 ERA.
"I'll always have fond memories for the Mets organization for the opportunity, but also because I won my 300th game in their uniform," Glavine said. "That's something I certainly will never forget."
Eight weeks later, Glavine was unable to escape the first inning of his final start as a Met, serving up seven runs in an 8-1 loss to the Marlins that completed one of the most significant team collapses in MLB history. When Glavine said afterward that he was "disappointed" but "not devastated," pockets of local fans took offense.
Glavine headed back home after that, playing out one final half-season in Atlanta before retirement claimed him. Then he waited out his requisite five-year cooling-off period, working as a broadcaster and philanthropist, before seeing his name pop up on 91.9 percent of Hall of Fame ballots released Wednesday.
"On behalf of everyone at the Mets, we congratulate Tom Glavine on his election to the Baseball Hall of Fame," Mets COO Jeff Wilpon said in a statement. "We are proud that Tom won his 300th game as a Met and were fortunate to have him on our club. His excellence as a player is equaled by his excellence as a person."
Humbled by my HOF selection, congrats to Greg Maddux and Frank Thomas as well, honored to go in with you guys- Tom Glavine (@Tom_Glavine) January 8, 2014
In his Hall of Fame speech this July, Glavine will undoubtedly focus on the 17 years in Dixie that made him a legend. But the fact remains that he was a Met for five years and always will be a Met in some form, regardless of the logo on his Cooperstown plaque.