Randy Johnson is still
hurling fastballs and changeups for the Arizona Diamondbacks at the ripe
old age of 44.
|Illustration By Tim
Randy Johnson is still hurling fastballs and changeups for the Arizona
Diamondbacks at the ripe old age of 44. Tom Glavine is not far behind in
his celebrated return to the Atlanta Braves at age 42 as one of Major
League Baseball's most celebrated southpaws, and 74-year-old
legend Henry Louis "Hank" Aaron might be cheering him on in the
What do these boys of summer have in common outside America's favorite
pastime? Their names might be more common than meets the eye, and each of
them has a decidedly un-famous counterpart who may (or may not) be known
in the employee benefits and human resources field. In the case of
Johnson, there are two such individuals, both of whom hail from Minnesota
and enjoy wild rice.
Consider this unusual lineup card: Tom Glavin (sans the "e") plying
his craft as Director of Risk Management and Employee Benefits for Gate
Petroleum Co. in Jacksonville, Florida; Randy Johnson holding court as
Vice President for Labor, Immigration, and Employee Benefits at
the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington; Randy Johnson toiling away as
Founder of Harbor Solutions and Services in Chicago, Illinois, after 25
years in Motorola's HR department; Henry Jacob Aaron providing decades of
provocative research and writings on health care and retirement
policy as an economist and senior fellow with the Washington-based
Brookings Institution's economic studies program.
So, what is it like for each of these ordinary gentlemen to share the
name of a famous baseball star with another 161-game season under way?
They are all serious professionals who have been forced to be good sports
about having to endure repeated cases of mistaken identity.
Asking for Autographs
For a number of years, Aaron regularly received requests to make his
autograph or sports memorabilia available for celebrity auctions and
school events, as well as sign baseballs (in one face-to-face encounter,
a gentleman actually said: "Sign it anyway. My kid won't know the
With tongue planted firmly in cheek, he always sent the adults one of
his books to be raffled off but, with the children who didn't know any
better, he politely forwarded contact information for the former baseball
Aaron still has a letter from former Miss America and sportscaster
Phyllis George inviting him to a celebrity golf tournament.
"Unfortunately, I don't play golf but, if I did, I would have gone," he
Now a consultant who works with employers to develop public policy
initiatives that result in holistic living, Johnson remembers being in a
hotel in Austin, Texas, when the DiamondÂbacks battled the Yankees
in the 2001 World Series.
"I called the front desk from my room and said, 'This is Randy
Johnson,' and there was silence on the other end of the line," he says.
"Then he said, 'Is this the real Randy Johnson?' I said, 'My mother
thinks I am.'"
When Hammerin' Hank signed a three-year contract for $200,000 a year
before baseball's big-money era, Aaron jokingly brought a copy of a
newspaper article about the deal to the head of the Brookings Institution
at that time and asked if he would match the offer. "He told me I should
take it," he chuckles.
Depending on whom he encounters, Glavin will point out to people that
the pitcher spells his name with an "e" at the end, but usually not until
the end of the conversation. About 25% of people tell him, "Your name
sounds so familiar." They've heard it, but are not really baseball
fans. The other 75% know who Tom Glavine the pitcher is and, inevitably,
a conversation will ensue for the next minute or so.
"Being a big baseball fan, at first it was pretty cool," Glavin says
about the constant comparisons to Glavine. "Then, it became a pain or
nuisance. Now, it's just part of life. Almost a day doesn't go by without
some type of comment."