Local Baseball Players Knew Glavine Was Destined For Greatness

By Michael Muldoon, Eagle-Tribune
Original article HERE.

On Sunday night when Tom Glavine became just the 23rd player in Major League Baseball history to win 300 games, there were no mixed emotions from his former high school rivals.

The 1984 Billerica High grad still has a slew of area admirers who competed against the former schoolboy baseball and hockey sensation.

"I wasn't a good hitter in high school," said Central Catholic graduate Bill Lane modestly. "I remember going to games and seeing 25 radar guns (when Glavine pitched). One time I got a suicide squeeze call (from Raiders coach Dave Bettencourt). I had never seen anything like it. The pitch went over the bat so fast I didn't even see it! He just threw so much harder than everybody and was pinpoint accurate. I want to say he hit over .600. He was an unbelievable fielder. He was just a sick athlete."

Dean Borrelli, Lane's former high school teammate, was good enough to play Triple-A ball. He still recalls fondly having a big game against the New York Mets hurler, who is destined for the Hall of Fame.

"He definitely stood out and was uniquely gifted," said Borrelli, who owns Play Ball indoor practice facility in Salem, N.H. "He was pretty special."

Could you have predicted a 300-game winner?

"You could never have predicted 300 wins," said Borrelli. "But he definitely looked like a major leaguer with the 90 mph fastball, a nasty breaking ball and great command. When he made it, I wasn't surprised."

Big talents often have big egos, but Glavine is praised as a regular guy who you couldn't help but like.

"From what I've been told by (longtime Billerica coach) Jon Sidorovich," explained Tewksbury High coach Ron Drouin of Methuen, "he's as nice a guy and as generous a guy as you'll ever come across. They needed help for the field and he stepped up (Billerica now plays on Tom Glavine Field), they needed uniforms and he stepped up."

When a player goes on to achieve greatness on a national stage, his former rivals puff out their chests when they had success against him. Such is the case with Lane and Borrelli.

"I remember I got a lucky hit against him," said Lane, who now works in the mattress business in Lexington, Ky. "I remember thinking I'll be able to tell my son some day I got a hit off Tom Glavine. As it turns out, I did."

Eight-year-old Will Lane was duly impressed Sunday night.

Borrelli made sure to point out, "I was 2 for 3 with a double and a three-run homer" when the Raiders knocked off Billerica in a battle of 7-0 teams in 1984. "That was pretty exciting."

As Borrelli recalled, the Raiders (then known as the Red Raiders) worked doubly hard preparing for Glavine.

"We took extra batting practice from a close distance," he explained. "When we got there, there were 15-20 scouts behind the backstop. We were so pumped to face him."

One of those scouts might have been former Methuen High coach Walter "Skeets" Scanlon, who was a scout for the San Diego Padres.

Scanlon, now 82, can't believe how fast the time has flown by.

"I was at the O'Connell Playstead and they had guns on him. Next thing you know, it's 300 wins later," he said with a laugh. "I wonder if any other league in the country can claim two Cy Young winners."

Scanlon, of course, is referring to the fact that Methuen's own Steve Bedrosian won the 1987 National League Cy Young with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Some scouts wondered about Glavine's ordinary size (he's 6-1, 190), but Scanlon didn't worry about that.

"No, because he had all the pitches and had great control," said Scanlon. "He not only had the fastball, but he had the control and mixed up his pitches and changed speeds."

Scanlon ranked him right up there with future Orioles star Mike Flanagan of Manchester, N.H., the 1979 Cy Young winner, future first-round picks Jeff Juden of Salem, Mass. (1989 draft), and Dennis Livingston of North Reading (1984 draft) and North Reading's Peter Quinlan (9th round 1971) as the best high schoolers he ever saw.

Glavine was drafted in the second round by the Braves and in the fourth round by the NHL's Los Angeles Kings.

North Andover's Rob Carpentier, who was a star at Andover High and UNH and was drafted in the 26th round by the New York Mets, also remembers how special Glavine was.

"He's the best that I remember, definitely," said Carpentier, who was a sophomore reserve for the Golden Warriors when they faced Billerica and Glavine. "You were kind of awestruck. I remember him being very calm and businesslike, which is ahead of your time when you're 17 years old."