Top 100 Irish America's Finest In Sport "What we talk about is great effort outstanding preparat


Outside the rink, Cullen is very active in the community. He and his wife set up the Cullen's Children Foundation in 2004, to help fund children's healthcare, especially those affected by cancer. The couple have a son, Brooks.

Tom Glavine

There's no avoiding the obvious. Baseball pitching great Tom Glavine did not leave the New York Mets on the best of terms. He pitched poorly in the last game of the 2007 season, a game which happened to decide whether or not the Mets were going to make the playoffs.

But another fact is just as obvious. There was plenty of blame to go around when it came to the Mets' 2007 collapse. And in terms of Glavine's entire stellar career, the final Mets game, while unfortunate, does not change the fact that he will one day be inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame.

Glavine, an Irish-American who was born in Massachusetts, won his 300th baseball game last August. When he reached this milestone, he joined an exclusive club whose first three members were Irish-Americans: Pud Galvin, Tim Keefe and Mickey Welch were the first three major league pitchers to win 300 games.

Glavine attributes his success to the work ethic instilled by his family. "My parents were all about hard work and doing things right," Glavine was quoted as saying after winning his 300th game. "If you are going to do something, do it right. Put all of your effort into it, not to where you are just satisfied to get it done. Never do something half-ass."

Glavine's dad, Fred (a construction worker), added: "Tommy probably gets a lot of that [toughness] from me. I'm very determined and, like me, he isn't a rah-rah guy. It's all business. His trademark is to be tough, no matter what. He might have trouble in the first inning, but he makes adjustments, and finds a way."

For all of his success on the baseball diamond, a very different sport was nearly Glavine's professional calling. He was such a standout hockey player that the Los Angeles Kings of the National Hockey League drafted him after high school. Following his 300th win this year, admirers could not help but note the dignified manner in which he plays the game.

"To watch Tom Glavine pitch a game is to watch a professional athlete who has mastered the art of pitching. No doubt in my mind you'll be a first-round inductee into the Hall of Fame," fellow 300-game- winner Tom Seaver told a roaring crowd at Shea Stadium.

For better or worse, Glavine has moved away from New York and returned to the city where he made a name for himself, Atlanta. He may be 42, but the Braves will still be expecting big things from Thomas Michael Glavine in 2008.

Hurley and O'Brien Guide Young Athletes

An extraordinary meeting of Irish-American minds took place in Springfield, Massachusetts this past January, on Martin Luther King Day.

True, this is not a day people associate with the Irish. But Jack O'Brien and Bob Hurley have spent so much time trying to guide young African-Americans in the right direction that it was only fitting they add their voices to the chorus of Americans discussing race and class - not to mention sports - at Martin Luther King Day events.

O'Brien and Hurley are two of the most dedicated and successful high school basketball coaches in the U.S. Hurley's achievements at St. Anthony's in Jersey City are, by now, well known. He has won over 90 percent of his games over three decades of coaching, and has nabbed over 20 state titles. Hurley, who grew up in Jersey City, is sometimes said to be responsible for "the Miracle of St. Anthony's."

Serving largely poor and working class students, the school has fewer than 250 students, and only about 130 are boys. And yet, from that humble pool, Hurley has created a dynasty.

As a profile in the New York Daily News put it: "The training and discipline of [Hurley's] team carry over into academics. The coach can be proud not only of the five NBA players and first-round draft picks whose careers he nurtured, but also of the 200 who played college hoops. . In Hurley's 33 years at St. Anthony's, all but one of his players went on to higher education."

Meanwhile, former Salem High School coach Jack O'Brien has left an indelible mark on the lives of many basketball players both in Salem in the mid-1980s and more recently at Charlestown High,when he led his all-black basketball team to many state championships.

Off the court, O'Brien, a Medford, Massachusetts native, who has also been involved with the Plummer Home, a residential home in Salem for boys from troubled homes, inspires his players to work hard not just in sports but in the classroom.

"He has an incredible record of getting guys into college," says Neil Swidey, author of The Assist: Hoops, Hope and the Game of their Lives (Public Affairs).

The Assist is the result of a three-part series Swidey did on Coach O'Brien and the Charlestown High team for the Globe Magazine in 2004. He went on to spend three years documenting the lives of O'Brien and his players.

Swidey's roots are Irish as well. His maternal grandfather, Patrick Ridge, was born in Galway, while Patrick's wife Nora O'Brien was born in Clare.