Northeastern coach Mike Glavine has one famous brother, one major-league hit and one of the hottest teams in college baseball

Mike Glavine leaning on fence at baseball pitch
Mike Glavine’s career as player and coach has been driven by “a love for the game and a passion for it.” Photo by Jim Pierce/Northeastern Athletics

His older brother, Tom Glavine, famously won 305 games in 22 major-league seasons and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Mike Glavine, in his ninth season as coach of the stubbornly successful baseball program at Northeastern, took the longer route to success. He played 10 years in the minor leagues. His one hit in the majors was reminiscent of a Hollywood movie. For the past decade he has been coaching a program of cold-weather outliers in a sport that tends to reward schools in the warmer southern states.

But Glavine’s Huskies are in contention yet again, based on a 10-1 start—Northeastern’s best in 26 years—amid their annual season-opening trip through North Carolina and Florida (with a tight 5-3 exhibition loss to the Boston Red Sox thrown in). In those initial 11 games Northeastern hit 23 home runs—just four short of their total for all of last season.

The Huskies will play their home opener at 2 p.m. Friday at Friedman Diamond against North Carolina A&T.

“I really don’t think I’d want it any other way,” Glavine says of the extended winters of New England. “When you have the right players, the right assistant coaches, the right support staff, and everybody’s in lockstep with the message, it’s going to feel better because you’ve overcome those obstacles. 

“Nothing really ever comes easy for us,” Glavine says—without quite realizing that he has also summed up his lifelong devotion to baseball.

Growing up in a Massachusetts blue-collar household as the little brother of Tom Glavine, a 6-foot lefthander who won a World Series (he was most valuable player) and two Cy Young awards while earning 10 All-Star Game invitations, Mike was bound to experience extra scrutiny and unfair comparisons. 

But that’s not how he looks at his brother’s influence.

“That age gap made him my idol,” says Mike Glavine, who is seven years younger than his brother. “He’d still beat up on me and all that stuff, but I looked up to him, like, oh my goodness—he’s awesome at baseball, he’s awesome at hockey.”

Tom Glavine was a fourth-round pick by the NHL and a second-round pick by the Atlanta Braves, for whom he won 244 games.

“He always, always let me tag along, which is something I’ll always remember and be thankful for,” Mike Glavine says. “If there was a Wiffle Ball game or a street hockey game and they needed a guy, I was the kid who filled in even though that age difference was there. I was a bat boy for his high school baseball team. I was the stick boy for the hockey team. I’m sure it annoyed him at times but I got to live through him and learn and get better.”

Mike Glavine starred in baseball at Northeastern, hitting 28 home runs with 110 RBI over his four years. Nearing the end of his decade in professional baseball, he was called up to the New York Mets, where for a half-dozen treasured games in September he was a major league teammate of his 37-year-old brother.

On Sept. 28, 2003, Mike Glavine lined a pinch-hit single up the middle off Florida Marlins closer Braden Looper. It was the lone major league hit of his career.

“It was the last game of the season so there was no tomorrow,” Glavine recalls with a self-deprecating smile. “One is better than none, I guess. I got a cup—a sip—of coffee there, but I truly was a minor leaguer. And I get that and I know that. But to be able to cap that moment was pretty cool.”

Glavine had seven at-bats overall with the Mets while becoming the third Northeastern graduate to reach the major leagues. His circumstance is reminiscent of Archibald (Moonlight) Graham, a player from the early 1900s who was depicted by the actor Burt Lancaster in the 1989 Kevin Costner movie “Field of Dreams.” Unlike Glavine, Graham played only one Major League inning in the field and never got an at-bat.

“It’s just a love for the game and a passion for it,” Glavine says of why he stuck with it for 10 years in the minors. “You always think you can do it, you always think you can get there, and I look at some of our [Northeastern] guys the same way that are in the minor leagues right now. I feel I’m living through them and it’s just like the same thing again.”

The sense of joy that kept bringing Glavine back as a minor-leaguer has become fundamental to the program he has built at Northeastern. After working his way up as a volunteer and then assistant coach, Glavine has put together an approach that is true to his own experiences.

“We call it ‘Northeastern tough,’” senior infielder Danny Crossen says. “Most of our team is from this area, so we’ve dealt with this climate before where a lot of the Southern schools haven’t. Coach Glavine tries to build a team that doesn’t care what the conditions are. We’re going to go out there and just play our game because we know we can play well if the field just got cleared of snow or if it’s 90 degrees and sunny.”

Since Glavine took over in 2015, 15 Huskies have been drafted by major league teams—including seven over the past two years.

“I was a pure walk-on who applied to Northeastern as a regular student from California and had a tryout and got an opportunity,” senior pitcher Nick Davis says. “From the beginning there was nothing promised to me. I had to work for my spot. I was able to make it onto the spring roster my freshman year and continued to have opportunities to work my way up the depth chart.”

As a self-made player, Davis can relate to Glavine’s grinding approach in the minor leagues. 

“But it’s not a big topic for us,” Davis says. “His personal career has come up a little bit, and I know that we all look to him as a leader who has experience. But I think he tries to relate to us more on a personal level and how we go about our day-to-day.”

Glavine (235-179-1 at Northeastern) has been named CAA coach of the year in three of the past six seasons. The Huskies reached the past two CAA championship games while winning their first conference title in 2021. Glavine ranked among college baseball’s five most underrated coaches in a 2020 poll conducted by Baseball America

Following their 2-1 victory at Duke on Wednesday, the Huskies were hitting .321 and averaging 9.9 runs per game.

“Our offense has been pretty special and it might be hard to sustain,” says Glavine, who is seeking his third NCAA tournament bid since 2018. “But if you watch us through a whole game, one through nine [in the batting order], they are grinders. There is no easy out. There is no easy play. We make it really, really hard for the opposing team.

“That mentality is ingrained in our program now, it’s who we are, and I think other programs know it. I’ve told the players there’s no greater feeling than when the opposing coach says to you, ‘I really respect how you guys play, I wish my guys played like that.’ When you hear those words it’s almost better than winning as a coach because you know your guys are playing the right way.”

Ian Thomsen is a Northeastern Global News reporter. Email him at Follow him on Twitter @IanatNU.