Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley
It has been a year of milestones for Major League Baseball.
From Tom Glavine to Barry Bonds to Alex Rodriguez to Craig Biggio the records have been piling up like poker chips in a major tournament.
Tom Glavine of the New York Mets has arguably the most prestigious record so far, notching his 300th career win on August 5, 2007 with an 8-3 victory over Lou Piniella’s Chicago Cubs in an away game at Wrigley Field.
The historic win was Glavine’s 10th this year against 6 losses.
Glavine won 242 of his victories pitching 16 seasons for the Atlanta Braves, and he has won the last 58 after coming to the New York Mets as a free agent in 2003. He is in his 21st season and is one of baseball’s winningest pitchers in the National League.
Glavine is a five-time 20-game winner and a two-time Cy Young Award winner, and is one of only 23 pitchers in major league history to earn 300 career wins.
He is also only the 5th left hander among the 23 300-game winners. He joins a select group that includes Warren Spahn (363 wins), Steve Carlton (329), Eddie Plank (326) and Lefty Grove (300).
Glavine is a lock to become a Hall of Fame Player when he retires. He has also been long known as an excellent fielding and hitting pitcher. The 41-year-old left hander will pass Lefty Grove and Early Winn on the all-time list as they both had exactly 300 wins when they retired.
Besides Tom Glavine and Early Winn, pitchers who have 300 career wins since 1958 include Warren Spahn, Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux, Steve Carlton, Nolan Ryan, Don Sutton, Phil Niekro, Gaylord Perry and Tom Seaver.
In addition to Lefty Grove, the old-timers include Cy Young, Walter Johnson, Grover Alexander, Christy Mathewson, Pud Galvin, Kid Nichols, Tim Keefe, John Clarkson, Eddie Plank, Charles Radbourn and Mickey Welch.
No one will ever break Cy Young’s record 511 career wins. Walter Johnson had 417, and every other pitcher has between 300 to 373.
More old-timers than modern day pitchers appear on the list because in the early days baseball teams used a two-man pitching rotation, giving old-timers many more starts and many more chances to notch 300 victories.
Modern day teams use a 4 or 5-man pitching rotation, and the arrival of specialists including set-up men (for the 7th and 8th innings) and closers (for the 9th inning) have meant that today’s pitchers log far fewer innings.
Speculation now abounds about whether any other player (right-hander or left-hander) will be able to achieve 300 career victories.
The smart money is on 44-year-old Randy Johnson who has 284 victories and a back problem that will not go away. No one else is even remotely close.
Following Johnson in career wins is Mike Mussina (247), David Wells (235), Jamie Moyer (227) and Curt Schilling (213). Logging 300 career wins is a sure ticket to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
One reason Glavine notched 300 wins is longevity (21 seasons and still pitching), and another is that he amazingly has never been hurt and on the disabled list.
(Editor’s Note: This is Part 1 of a 3-Part Series.)