NEW YORK -- For as rich as their pitching history may be, the Mets waited decades to watch a player win his 300th game in their uniform. Tom Seaver won his 300th with the White Sox, of all teams. Jerry Koosman and Dwight Gooden fell well short of the hallowed statistic. Winning 300 games has never been more difficult than it is in today’s game, which is saying something because it’s never been easy. Only 24 pitchers are in the club. The majority of them played before World War II.
“I think the feeling right now is probably relief,” Glavine said immediately after the game. “At some point in time, I don’t know when, the historic side of it will sink in. I know the company I’m in, and I’m as proud as can be to be in that company.”
Glavine went on to become a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 2014, for feats mostly accomplished with the Braves. New York fans sometimes even frown upon Glavine’s Mets tenure because of his performance in the final game of the 2007 season, but the reality is he was a free-agent success in Flushing, going 61-56 with a 3.97 ERA over five seasons while serving as a leader for a young roster in the mid-2000s. Exactly 20 percent of his career victories came with the Mets, including the one that made him the 23rd member of the 300-win club.
Leading up to the game, anticipation was high. Glavine had won his 299th on July 25, then took a tough-luck no-decision in his next start. That set up a nationally televised Sunday Night Baseball showdown at sold-out Wrigley Field. For much of the early game, the Mets struggled to score for Glavine, who singled home a run in the second inning. Some insurance finally came in the fifth and sixth, when the Mets scored four more times, allowing Glavine to depart in the seventh inning with a five-run lead.
The Mets’ bullpen did not make things comfortable for Glavine, but another late offensive burst put the win well in hand by the ninth. Glavine watched, then celebrated, as Billy Wagner nailed down the final three outs of an 8-3 win. Glavine, who returned to Atlanta the following season, would win just five more games in his career.
Afterward, he was asked about the possibility that he would be the last 300-game winner in Major League history. Turns out it wasn’t so; Randy Johnson won his 300th two years later. No one has won 300 since, nor come particularly close as teams have increasingly relied on relievers over starters. But no matter how the game evolves from here, the Mets will always have their 300-game winner in Glavine.