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History Lesson: even great careers rarely end well

Lar at Wezen-Ball reflects on the presumptive end of Tom Glavine’s career by looking at how other first-ballot Hall of Famers -- a club Glavine will almost certainly join -- ended theirs:

With everyone talking about the Braves and Tom Glavine this week, and how unfair the whole situation seems to be, it’s good to remember that there are many all-time greats whose careers ended in a similar (or worse) way than Glavine’s seems to have ended. It’s the sad nature of the game, though, especially as players like Tom Glavine or even Tom Seaver age beyond the ability for their bodies to come back from injury.

Still, as true as that may be, we shouldn’t fret. Yes, we all remember Willie Mays falling down in the outfield as a New York Met or Dave Winfield failing to make the postseason roster in his final year, but that’s neither the lasting image nor the last feelings that we have of these greats. Instead, we remember their power and their grace and their energy and their attitude from back in their prime. That’s why, when you think of Babe Ruth, you see him swinging for the fences in Yankee Stadium or leaning on a bat grinning, and why you see Willie Mays running out to centerfield to catch that ball when you think of the Say Hey Kid.

Before reaching that conclusion, Lar runs through excerpts from the final game stories of multiple legends. Eye-opening stuff for those of you who think of Reggie Jackson as a Yankee, Dennis Eckersley as an Athletic, and Steve Carlton as a Phillie.