Interviewed by Nikki Pepperman
Doug Glanville is a Penn Engineering Alum, Class of 1993, and is one of only five baseball players from Penn to play in Major League Baseball. He started his MLB career in 1996 with the Chicago Cubs, later playing for the Texas Rangers and our very own Philadelphia Phillies. Doug returned to Philadelphia in 1998 to play for the Phillies, where he remained until 2004 and had 1,100 hits for the team.
More recently, Doug has left the baseball diamond to pursue communication endeavors. He successfully transitioned his career from baseball to journalism, as he is now a contributing columnist to the NY Times, as well as a respected Baseball analyst for ESPN. He is very admirable not only for his career, but also because he is humble and poised.
Doug Glanville visited the Penn Book Store on Friday, October 15, 2010. He signed copies of his autobiographical novel, The Game From Where I Stand. Later that day, Glanville participated in a panel of six respected professionals in the sports industry. Penn Athletics presented, “The State of Baseball,” featuring a screening of the documentary and a panel discussion. Walking to the panel, he spared some time for an Exclusive Interview.
How do you reflect on your MLB and journalistic careers?
I feel very fortunate. My family always focused my life on academics. I graduated with a degree in Engineering. My family always emphasized being a well-rounded student. This maximizes opportunity and versatility with a career path.
What encouraged you to write?
I always wrote – it is a therapeutic method for expression. My father always wrote poetry and I appreciated reading it. From hearing it so often, I understand how to communicate. There is such a beauty in writing. There was a turning point for me in high school. There are always very hard teachers that push you to work harder. In college I always did well on papers because I became a great writer in high school. Specifically, my tenth-grade teacher Mrs. Sumner taught me the majority of the skills I have now. Teachers like that raise the bar and shape the discipline of writing. After tenth-grade I excelled in writing. College compositions are more research based, but I was very prepared.
What inspired you to shift careers from baseball to journalism?
My father passed away in 2002, and I felt lost. I was searching for a way to remember his legacy. I had pendants, photos – many mementos, but these things do not represent true feelings. The objects do not bring back his presence. It was not until I wrote, that I began to feel close to him again. Writing is a discovery of many sorts – I found a voice of my own.
What is your individual perspective as a baseball analyst?
There was always something missing – the feelings of the players. I identify with athletes and write the story behind the game. I understand the frustration of being down in an inning. I understand the happiness of winning a game. But at the end, playing baseball is their job – how they pay the bills. There is a certain existence in the sport; you must earn the job and keep it. You have to stay focused and train to keep your spot on the team. I also write a lot on the drug culture and abuse of steroids in sports.
How did you transition from writing for the NY Times to becoming an on-air personality on ESPN?
I write because it is liberating and therapeutic. I got tremendous feedback for my pieces – ten fold what I imagined. I learned the media world from being involved in sports. The readers are very receptive and connect with my work. The reciprocity is very powerful and pushed me to continue writing. Education was always very important to me.
What have you learned?
I learned how to communicate. I verbalize the loss of my father. My father came to America at age thirty-one from Trinidad and Tobago. He was a Psychologist. I have a family of my own – a son and a daughter. I learn what to teach my kids and what to tell them. I appreciate hard work, literature, and educators.
Who inspired you as a child?
In terms of baseball, I looked up to Jackie Robinson. Historically – any of the civil rights leaders. Today, I am motivated by my educators.
Doug Glanville visited the Penn Book Store on Friday, October 15, 2010. He signed copies of his autobiographical novel, The Game From Where I Stand. Later that day, Glanville participated in a panel of six respected professionals in the sports industry. Penn Athletics presented, “The State of Baseball,” featuring a screening of the documentary and a panel discussion.