In the glow of his 300th victory, Tom Glavine allowed himself some time to reflect on the accomplishment, a milestone only 22 other pitchers and four other left-handers have achieved.
"I've had a couple of moments, chances to think about winning 300," he said. "My God, that's a lot of wins. I look over my whole career never thinking about being here (at the 300 milestone), then being here and realizing how long a journey it's been."
When you win 300, there are always memorable moments that stand out. For Glavine, they would include the 12-strikeout game against Philadelphia in 1991, the 13-game winning streak in 1992 and the 23-inning scoreless streak in 1998.
But the most memorable of all, the game of his life, doesn't even count among his 300 wins. That's because postseason records are kept separately and Glavine's exclamation point game came on an October night in 1995 when he pitched the Atlanta Braves to their only World Series championship.
Glavine will always remember the walk from the dugout in Wrigley Field after the final out was recorded in win No. 300 and the embraces of congratulations from, his teammates. But it can't compare in his mind's eye to the brilliant eight-inning one-hitter he threw in Game 6 clincher of the World Series against Cleveland.
Could he compare that night with No. 300?
"There are some similarities," he said. "The sense of accomplishment, the pride. But that's where it ends. This accomplishment is something I'm extremely proud of. But I'm celebrating with myself. The world championship, you're celebrating with 25 or 30 guys who you've been through the wars with.
"As good as individual accomplishments are, there's nothing quite like running out to that mound after you've won a World Series and jumping around like a bunch of kids with all your buddies who you've been playing ball with all summer long."
Glavine came to the Majors in 1987. By 1995, he had established himself as one of the game's best pitchers, a 20-game winner three straight years, a Cy Young Award winner in 1991 and, with Greg Maddux and John Smoltz, part of one of baseball's best pitching staffs.
Together, they launched one of baseball's most remarkable dynasties as Atlanta finished first 14 straight years. The Braves had gone to the World Series in 1991 and 1992, losing both times. So there was a sense of urgency when Atlanta returned to the Series in 1995, this time against the Cleveland Indians.
The Braves won three of the first four games, but Cleveland won Game 5, sending the Series back to Atlanta for Game 6. Glavine, who had won Game 2 for Atlanta, matched up with Cleveland's Dennis Martinez in a scoreless duel. What's more, the Indians did not have a hit through the first five innings as Glavine painted both sides of the plate like an artist, working in and out and up and down and most of all, never giving in to the hitter.
The stylish left-hander had what baseball people call "no-hit stuff" that night.
"We didn't hit a ball hard off Glavine all night," Cleveland manager Mike Hargrove said.
The Indians' only hit against the Atlanta lefty came when Tony Pena, leading off the sixth, blooped a single that fell between center fielder Marquis Grissom and second baseman Mark Lemke. Glavine shrugged it off and retired the next three batters. Then, in the bottom of the sixth, David Justice homered for Atlanta, giving the Braves a 1-0 lead.
Glavine worked through the eighth and then turned the shutout over to closer Mark Wohlers, who recorded the last three outs in the one-hit shutout. And with that, the Braves spilled out of the dugout and piled on each other at the mound, just like a bunch of happy kids, a magical moment in the memorable career of Tom Glavine, baseball's latest 300-game winner.
Hal Bock is a freelance writer based in New York.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.