It’s been a busy day here at the ol’ Crackle. We’ve interviewed a former Major League All Star, an Ivy League educated engineer, a New York Times Columnist, An ESPN baseball analyst, and an author.
And, oh yeah, it’s all the same guy.
Renaissance man Doug Glanville is out with a new book, called “The Game From Where I Stand.” He’s also the first professional athlete to sit down for an SCP interview, though I’m not sure that will make it onto his resume.
Among the topics we touched upon: Being the smartest guy in the room, getting Ryne Sandberg’s wife angry and loving blue eyed soul.
SCP: Obviously, your path to the majors is a bit different than most players.Â You’re the son of a teacher and a psychiatrist, and you have an engineering degree from an Ivy League school. Was there a degree of culture shock for you once you became a professional baseball player? Did you run into any problems with other players or coaches because of your background?
DG: The major leagues was the great equalizer. Being different made for a unique story and didn’t really hinder your ability to find opportunity.Â The minor leagues was more challenging as you try and climb the ranksÂ which can involvesÂ decision-makers that may not like your being different. My Triple-AÂ manager was not a fan of mine and IÂ am sure some of it had toÂ do with the fact that IÂ asked questions andÂ challenged ideas. IÂ believe that all players (unless they are the son of a major leaguer and have been around the environment a long time) experience a culture shock atÂ first. In my case,Â I just had to work through the labels that came with being that “smart guy.” Be itÂ that it was assumedÂ I was not as tough or that I was constantly challenging authority.Â In the end, my teammates embraced me and even appointed me to be the union representative for the team.
SCP: Was the decision to go to Penn a difficult one? Ivy League schools aren’t generally places where athletes go to kick start their professional playing careers.
DG: My top priority was to get the best education available to me so it wasn’t a difficult choice, I had a short list of ivy-league schools and I liked the idea that I would be able to balance a rigorous academic schedule and a baseball life. Penn was actually one of the few schools that assured me the chance to be an outfielder. Most schools recruited me to be a pitcher.
SCP: We’re a website with a mostly young male readership. Give us your “life in the majors” story that would most appeal to our demographic.
DG: This is a story from the book. When I first was up with the Cubs, I brought a date to the game. She ended up sitting with some of the family members of my teammates. After the game, she followed to crowd to the family room, which is where family meets up with the players. When I came out of the locker room, I went over to the family room area and didn’t see her. Then I saw Ryne Sandberg’s wife, Margaret, standing in the doorway, looking concerned. She then asked me “Is she waiting for you?” I couldn’t see inside so I went to look and there was my date in a skin tight white bunny suit with lips across the front with the words “Precious” written across them. I then understood that I had really upset all of my teammates wives in one moment.
SCP: It’s not all glamour. At some point, you’re still just a guy looking for a decent two bedroom apartment near the office in Arlington, Texas. How much of that is taken care of for you by teams and agents and how much do you actually have to deal with yourself?
DG: It depends on the team or the player’s relationship with their agent. Some players may rely on their family to find a good spot. I know in Texas they had a guy who would help find places to stay. When I lived in Texas, I talked to Royce Clayton who had a condo there from his playing days. He let me rent his space which made it easier than pounding the pavement or relying on people I didn’t know that well. Overall, there are a lot of services that support players so it isn’t as challenging as it could be.
SCP:Who was your best friend in baseball? Any mortal enemies? Do the friendships you made in the game continue past your playing days?
DG: I was cool with Jimmy Rollins, Desi Relaford, Mike Lieberthal, Wayne Gomes, Marlon Anderson, Kevin Jordan to name a few. I keep in touch with all of these guys. But, I had friendships across the board so if I saw any of my oldÂ teammates, it would be like a high school reunion. Not many mortal enemies, thank goodness. Although since baseball carries grudges, I would have to fight Hideki Irabu for hitting me in the back the first pitch of the game in Yankee Stadium one game.
SCP: How did the New York Times thing come about?
DG: My first New York TimesÂ column was inspired by a desire to respond to the Mitchell Report which exposed the drug culture in baseball. I wrote a piece that did very well with readers and then a few weeks later, my friend and reporter with the Times, Alan Schwarz suggested that I fly to New York to pitch them on a column. They went for it.
SCP: And did that lead to ESPN?
DG: Ultimately, it did lead to ESPN. My column had gotten a lot of traction and some of ESPN’s top writers were either quoting my writingsÂ or referring to my articles in some form. I flew to Bristol, interviewed, and a little while later, I received a job offer.
SCP: Why a book now?
DG: The time was right. My publisher, Times Books approached me almost two years ago about writing a book in the tone of my NY Times column. I realized that I was positioned very well. I had been every kind of player in my career, I played in the center of the field and could see everything, my contemporaries were either still playing, GMs, managers, or heavy in the media. It was the perfect storm and being that this book is so human, it becomes more relevant as we navigate the supernatural times of the steroid era.
SCP: For a school in a medium sized town, Teaneck High School has produced a remarkable number of people who have become successful in sports (you, David Stern, Lawrence Frank, former Laker and Timberwolf Tony Campbell, KC Chief Tamba Hali.) Is that just dumb luck,or is there something about that town and that school which lends itself to success?Â Have you seen the video of Lawrence Frank cursing on ESPN?Â If not, you should look it up.
DG: Teaneck was nothing short of magic for me. It was a town that was a pioneer in integration, it embraced all people and as a result, it developed a culture of perseverance and understanding. Damon Lindelof (LOST), economist,Paul Volcker, Marc Jacobs also were Teaneck people. Lawrence Frank was my little league teammate. One season he went the entire year without striking out. As for the cursing,Â I would imagine every basketball coach has a mouth on him or her.
SCP: Were you rooting for Cornell in the NCAA tournament because you want the Ivy League to do well, or were you rooting against them because they are a conference rival?
DG: Absolutely cheering them on.
SCP: Back to the New York Times pieces.. you’ve revealed a lot about your personal life in those columns. You’ve discussed the pain of knowing when it was time to hang up your cleats for the last time, the experience of meeting your wife, dealing with difficult managers, etc.Â But one thing stood out to me: Hall and Oates is your favorite band. Can you explain that one? What’s your favorite song? What is your stance on John Oates’ mustache?
DG: I do not back down off of that and mentioning them six times in the book is plenty of proof. I can’t explain it but their music resonates with me. They are catchy, soulful, and accessible. They embody all people and all music and that really is how I live my life. Favorite songÂ - Out of Touch, but I love “Someone Like You” and “Sara Smile.” I saw John Oates in Evanston, IL recently. The stache works, it should stay.