In this song, Springsteen sings about a chance encounter with an old friend who was a star baseball player in high school. This fellow is Joe DePugh, and the encounter really did happen.
Springsteen and DePugh were classmates at St. Rose of Lima School in Freehold, New Jersey and played baseball together in the Babe Ruth League (ages 13-15). They were good friends, but drifted apart as Springsteen pursued music while DePugh took a shot at sports (he tried out for the Los Angeles Dodgers). In the summer of 1973, DePugh was walking in to a bar called the Headliner in Neptune, New Jersey while Springsteen was walking out. Bruce went back in, where he and his old friend talked about the good old days until the bar closed. When "Glory Days" was released, DePugh was living in Vermont, where word got out that he was the subject of the song. Springsteen confirmed the story at his 30th high school reunion in 1997, but DePugh wasn't there; they finally met up again in 2005 when they met for lunch and once again relived their glory days. (Freehold historian Kevin Coyne sleuthed out this story, which was published in the New York Times