Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Monday, August 07, 2021

basepath takenrink avoided
When MLB pitcher Tom Glavine lost a couple of teeth in a taxicab accident two years ago, his youthful prowess in another sport came up:

Growing up in Massachusetts, Glavine was a two-sport prep star and was picked by the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings in the fourth round of the 1984 draft.

Once asked why he picked baseball over hockey, he joked, “I had all my own teeth and I wanted to keep it that way.”

I guess that hockey-like tooth-loosening stirred some wistfulness in the Mets hurler. Glavine looks back at his decision to forgo pucks for pitches, particularly because of another southpaw the Kings selected in that same draft:

The Kings chose another left-handed player five rounds — 102 selections — after Glavine. Luc Robitaille, with no discernible alternative, signed with them. He has forged a career of nearly unsurpassed offensive accomplishment. When and if he scores another 34 goals, he will add his likeness to the Mt. Rushmore of NHL goal scorers as the seventh player with at least 700 goals, joining Wayne Gretzky (894), Gordie Howe (801), Brett Hull (741), Marcel Dionne (731), Phil Esposito (717) and Mike Gartner (708).

It is Robitaille’s grandeur and the juxtaposition of his place in the draft and Glavine’s that prompt Glavine to wonder about the career path not taken. No regrets. But wonder.

“Oh, all the time,” the Mets pitcher says. “I always wonder what would have happened.

“I’d like to believe I would have made it. There are guys I played against in high school who have played in the NHL, and we had comparable talent then. But there are no guarantees. … I know I would have had to become bigger — I was 6-foot-0, 180 [pounds] when I graduated from high school. Either that or find a way to play as Gretzky played. But I think I had a shot to make it.”

A deferred Gretzky/Robitaille level of career? Hey, dare to dream.

I’m a bit surprised to see him waxing nostalgic like this. I’d known about Glavine’s dual-drafted status for years, but past references from him seemed to suggest that he hadn’t been as dedicated to his prep hockey career as he was to baseball, and so the hockey option wasn’t really as realistic (despite the King’s pick). Maybe that was a case of focusing on the path taken and not dwelling on any long-term second-guessing.

I suppose Glavine chose the right uniform, since he’s likely to end up in Cooperstown someday. If he’d gone with skates, he might never have made it past the minors. Still, it might make for a fun alternate reality scenario.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 08/07/2021 11:10:22 PM
Category: Hockey, Baseball | Permalink |

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