Former MLB Player, Analyst, Writer, Educator and Author Doug Glanville Explores the Intersection between Sports and Larger Society
Former Cubs, Phillies and Texas Rangers centerfield Doug Glanville has become one of the most heralded writers and educators in sports world. He gets to show off all his skills in his new show on the Marquee Sports Network called Class Is In Session with Doug Glanville.
The nine-year MLB veteran joined SportsJam host Doug Doyle to talk about the new show, his baseball and broadcasting career, social justice matters, and his days at Teaneck High School.
The baseball analyst, writer, author and educator who teaches classes at UCONN spoke on a Zoom chat from his home in Bloomfield, Connecticut.
Class Is In Session with Doug Glanville presented by UI Health is a half-hour panel show on the Marquee Sports Network, exploring the intersection between sports and larger society. Each month Glanville sits down with a distinguished panel of guests, analyzing and providing solutions to the most challenging issues in the world of sports.
"Class Is In Session really started as my personal journey. I always taken the model that I gained from growing up in Teaneck, New Jersey. And Teaneck, its claim to fame was voluntary desegregation in the early 60's. I came along in 1970 and I saw my parents commitment to making diversity work and not making it sort of a punchline or slogan, but really making it a way of life. I believe my time there was very successful in that regard. I was exposed to people from all walks of life. My lunch table was Muslim, Jewish, Black, White, whatever and we always had very good conversations. So, what we call uncomfortable conversations today was very familiar and normal to me to try to work together as a team. Teaneck really set that tone. So the show, not only embodying that sports can be part of the solution, sports inherently has aspects that focus on teamwork despite the differences. It focuses in equity because of rules you're charged to uphold and follow and agree upon. I found sports to be such a great example to set for larger society. Growing up I always shunned the idea that stick to sports. Sports was part of the way to connect people."
The most recent episode of Class Is In Session on April 23 focused on moving the MLB All-Star Game from Atlanta, Georgia to Colorado. The move was prompted by Georgia passing a voting law which Glanville says made it harder to get people to vote, especially disproportionately in groups and communities of color.
"You think about the Black community which had sort of the souls to polls, the Sunday voting church sort of movement. Part of the law is to ban giving food and water to people waiting on line. Of course, communities of color tend to be set up in environments that voting lines are ridiculously long which is another problem, so of course that's going to impact people who are disproportionately connected to these long wait times. Major League Baseball jumped into the deep end of the pool here and said we can not be this game that celebrating Hank Aaron's legacy, the sport of Jackie Robinson, and not take some stand here where we feel we have to make a move. There's no doubt there's going to be blowback on all these things but I think I've always said to Baseball it's one thing to stand for something, it's another to stand up for something. I think this step was standing up for something in certain values that they're trying to really underscore in the future."
Glanville's latest episode dives deeper into MLB's decision with guests like Chicago Cubs outfielder and member of the Major League Player Committee for the Players Alliance, Jason Heyward. Also on the panel is 18-year major league veteran and current President of the Players Alliance Curtis Granderson and Senior Writer for the Athletic and MLB Network Insider Ken Rosenthal.
Glanville, a frequent contributor to numerous outlets, including Marquee Sports Network, ESPN and the New York Times and The Athletic, is also nominated for a 2021 Sports Emmy Award for his "Enough" ESPN video essay, also wrote a highly acclaimed Op-ed column in the New York Times in 2019 titled "I Was Racially Taunted on Television. Wasn’t I?" He is also the author of The Game From Where I stand, an inside look at the human side of the game of baseball.
What was his reaction to Derek Chauvin's guilty verdict in connection with last year's death of George Floyd in Minnesota?
"A lot of the feeling of relief that comes with it is that you just don't expect justice. I think that's a sad state of affairs to a certain degree, but you don't expect it. You also know that even with a guilty verdict there's so much other work to be done."
A father of four, Glanville says he's had conversations about race with children many times and remembers when he was just five years old, a white camper refused to hold his hand in a circle activity.
"One kid was I'm not holding hands with blackies, I'm just not. So this kid refused to hold my hand in this circle. I actually looked at him and felt sympathetic to him. That was a big moment for me considering how young I was."
The young Glanville was quickly taken into the office to see if he was okay and he told the counselors "He's got the problem!"
Glanville credits his late father for teaching him how to deal with racism.
"My dad was a renaissance man. He was from Trinidad and Tobago, came to the United States when he was 31, went to Howard University (HBCU) and he graduated in three years, went on straight to med school and paid his way through. He was already established in Trinidad as a teacher. He taught and was an assistant head master. What he brought to my mom, who grew up in the Jim Crow South, North Carolina, was that I don't understand all these barriers. In my country everybody is black and they're doing everything, so why do we think we can't be these things. He just didn't let that sink into his psyche. He's like you're crazy, I'm just doing what I need to do."
Glanville can also thank his dad for his writing talents.
"The way I'm really connected to him, there's no pictures really, or videos that replaces him in a certain way but the closest I've come is being a writer. He loved poetry. He wrote poems all of the time. And the writing is like, he is here with me. That's why writing is so different for me than anything I've ever done. I had great English teachers at Teaneck High, let's me say that but I also made this something so deep and profound for me that it really isn't writing. It's like an expression extension, a way to just value this level of communication. It's very reciprocal for me."
Glanville graduated from the school of Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania. He was the first African American Ivy League graduate to play in Major League Baseball.
Selected in the first-round draft pick by the Chicago Cubs, Glanville would go on to have a long career with the Cubs, Texas Rangers and Philadelphia Phillies. After spending five-plus season with Philadelphia and Texas, he returned to the Cubs in 2003 and hit a go-ahead triple in the 11th inning of Game Three of the NLCS against the Marlins.
Glanville's best season in the majors was in 1999 when he drove in 73 runs and hit .325 in 692 plate appearances. When asked if he would ever make the Baseball Hall of Fame as a contributor-player-broadcaster what had would he put on?
"I haven't thought this through so I don't want to offend my Chicago brethren, I probably would put a Phillies hat on. I say that because I grew up a Phillies fan through and through. You know I say if you want to know Doug Glanville, understand baseball and then understand Daryl Hall and John Oates, that will sum it up."