The Game from Where I Stand: From Batting Practice to the Clubhouse to the Best Breakfast on the Road, an Inside View of a Ballplayer's Life

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9780312573096: The Game from Where I Stand: From Batting Practice to the Clubhouse to the Best Breakfast on the Road, an Inside View of a Ballplayer's Life

"Filled with sharp insights, keen observations, and great stories, his book is championship caliber." ―The Philadelphia Inquirer

Doug Glanville, a former major league outfielder and Ivy League graduate, draws on his nine seasons in the big leagues to reveal the human side of baseball and of the men who play it.

In The Game from Where I Stand, Glanville shows us how players prepare for games, deal with race and family issues, cope with streaks and slumps, respond to trades and injuries, and learn the joyful and painful lessons the game imparts. He also tells us with insight and humor what he learned from Jimmy Rollins, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, Barry Bonds, Curt Schilling, and other legendary and controversial stars.

In his professional career, Glanville experienced every aspect of being a player―the first-round pick, the prospect, the disappointment, the can't-miss, the cornerstone, the veteran, the traded, the injured, the comeback kid. His eye-opening book gives fans a new level of understanding of day-to-day life in the big leagues.

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About the Author:

Doug Glanville played outfield for the Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs, and Texas Rangers from 1996 through 2004. From 2008 to 2010, he wrote an online column for The New York Times and provided baseball analysis for XM Radio. In the spring of 2010 he joined ESPN as a baseball analyst. He serves on the executive board of Athletes Against Drugs, and advises high school student athletes as a special consultant to the Baseball Factory. He lives with his family in Chicago.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

INTRODUCTION

"Now batting, the center fielder, number six, Doug Glanville."

For fifteen professional seasons, nine of them in the major leagues, those words (or some variation of them) began my workday. I heard them in tiny small–town ballparks and in triple–decker urban stadiums that seated fifty thousand people or more. I heard them in spring training; I heard them in the playoffs; I may have even heard them in my sleep. The sound never got old.

I was a center fielder, and once I got a taste of what that meant, I never wanted to play any other position. There is no other place on the field with such uninhibited sight lines to take in all that baseball has to offer. My job as the center fielder was to run down everything hit in my direction, but it was also to lead, to make sure my fellow outfielders knew where to play before the ball was hit.

There is an immense beauty in standing in the center of the outfield and being able to see everything. From center field you can see where the catcher is setting up and, based on your knowledge of your team's pitching staff, know to a high degree of accuracy what is about to happen. You can watch a pickoff play about to develop and anticipate that the base runner is about to erase a potential run by being too jumpy. You can even see what is happening in the stands and note that your dad just got back to his seat after buying a big bag of popcorn.

A center fielder has to fully understand where the other players are relative to one another before every pitch. If I had a speedy right fielder playing alongside me, I could feel confident giving him more room. I had to know the abilities and range of everyone on the field to maximize our chance to record an out on any given play. If I was too close, I cut down our range as a team; if I was too far away, balls fell in safely. I had to be able to look at my teammates and keep our spacing constant, accounting for the count, the wind, the speed of my fellow outfielders, even my sore hamstring.

These calculations became second nature to me, because unlike most ballplayers, I am an engineer by training. When I was draft ed by the Chicago Cubs in the first round of the 1991 amateur draft, I was a junior at the University of Pennsylvania, studying systems engineering. Not that many Ivy League student athletes are scouted by the pros, but the Cubs must have seen something they liked, because they picked me twelfth overall, one slot ahead of a high school phenom from New York City named Manny Ramirez. (Hmmm, wonder what ever happened to him.)

Once I signed on the dotted line accepting the Cubs' signing bonus offer, dream met reality and I began my journey to the big leagues.

As a first–round draft pick, all eyes are on you and there is no other place to be but center stage. In July 1991, I reported to the Geneva Cubs, who played in a college town in upstate New York. I lived on Main Street and remember hearing the light change from green to yellow to red. My rite of passage began.

In 1992, I made a stop in the Carolina League in Winston–Salem, complete with three roommates. We seemed to have a revolving door out front since every other day one of us was affected by a front–office move. Released, demoted, promoted.

After the season, the front–office executives who had draft ed me were fired, and the new regime sent me back to the same level in 1993 with a promise of advancement midseason. True to their word, I was promoted to the Double–A Orlando Cubs. Welcome to the world of Disney.

I would play in Orlando for two seasons, and my once–promising career seemed to be stuck in neutral. But in the fall of 1994, I received an invitation to play in the Arizona Fall League. It was here where it all started to come together. A player–of–the–week award gave me optimism that I was seeing progress. I was performing well against the best the minor leagues had to offer.

When the final tallies were counted, my performance in the fall league solidified a spot for me on the Cubs' Triple–A team in Des Moines, Iowa. I did not know it at the time, but it was here that I would face an unexpected test. The manager of the Iowa Cubs, Ron Clark, and I did not get along. Our differences had begun the year before, when I was in Orlando. Clark was the minor league director of instruction at the time, and after one game he called me into the office to discuss a base–running decision I had made. Clark told me that I had made the wrong choice. I disagreed, but we didn't agree to disagree; we just fought for the last word. He would file this act of insubordination away.

In Iowa, every day was a battle. It was a year of constant badgering and a lot of tentative mistakes on the field, but one of the things that kept me going was the encouragement of our hitting coach, Glenn Adams. Keep working, keep your head up, he told me.

At season's end, my numbers were unimpressive. By now, I was twenty–five years old, which is ancient for a minor leaguer, and the Cubs asked me to play in the Instructional League that fall, an opportunity typically reserved for much younger players and a sign that my future had to be now. Fortunately, I met Tom Gamboa, a manager who would take me to Puerto Rico to play for his Mayaguez Indios in winter ball. It was there that I found my stride, winning an MVP trophy and, the next year, a championship.

To play so well after being buried in Triple–A was striking, even to the Cubs' front office. What was in the water in Puerto Rico? Part of the problem was that my Triple–A manager never took the time to know my story.

That story was one of determination. I chose to complete my college education after I was drafted, to fulfill a promise to my family. I had taken a leave of absence during the spring semester of my senior year to play for Winston–Salem, but when the fall came, it was my time to finish what I started and graduate.

My parents had set the tone for education. Growing up as the son of a math teacher and a practicing psychiatrist gave me a strong academic base.

My mom, who hailed from Rocky Mount, North Carolina, was the oldest of four children and a born teacher. She followed this knack for leadership right through the public school system in my hometown of Teaneck, New Jersey, where she taught for over twenty years. She thrust herself directly into Teaneck's commitment to introduce diverse groups of people to one another by organizing cottage parties and by participating in cross–cultural social events like "Friendship Day." She had the strength common to the most uncommon teachers: a sense for making her audience know that she was talking to each person individually.

My father left his homeland of Trinidad and Tobago at the age of thirty–one in the midst of a political shakeup in the school system, where he had served as an assistant headmaster. His journey would take him to Howard University in Washington, D.C., where he would attend medical school. His skill in critical thinking helped shape the way I evaluated situations and people. His vast array of responses to scenarios and his unwavering ability to disarm anyone with one cool phrase were transformational for me. Through genuine humility, he brought everyone into a common space.

He was also a true Renaissance man. His primary passion was writing poetry, and after his passing he left a collection of poems for everyone to continue to learn from and find joy in.

But it was my brother who was all about baseball. He laid out a plan for my baseball destiny by listing the steps to major league glory. He is still playing baseball today, at the age of forty–seven; he is the one member of our family who has always passionately followed his heart, whatever the expense.

My parents had many choices of where to build their life, but they chose Teaneck, a blossoming beacon of diversity in the homogeneous, wealthy suburbs of Bergen County.

No place shaped my perspective as much as Teaneck. In the 1960s Teaneck had been at the forefront of integration, bringing black and white students together to learn in the same space, setting the expectation that diversity would be embraced. Diplomacy became a huge part of my worldview as I witnessed people of all walks learning how to communicate with one another.

It was also this experience that made the major leagues feel like home once I got my first call–up to the Cubs on June 9, 1996. I was sent down once, but by September I would be back up for what would be the remainder of my career.

But I would not stay with the Cubs for long. They traded me on December 23, 1997, to the Philadelphia Phillies, which opened up my career. I would be going back to the East Coast, playing for my childhood favorite team, going back to my college town, and—best of all—starting. (Yes, the Phillies were my favorite team growing up. You would think that a northern New Jersey kid would love either the Mets or the Yankees, but my brother got me into sports so young that I chose my favorite team simply by the color of their uniform. Nothing could beat those powder blue road uniforms of the Phillies in the 1970s.)

My five seasons in Philadelphia embodied the complete major league experience. I came as the rising prospect, wise in years but still with much to prove. I left as the disgruntled and exhausted role player, whose role was mostly to teach my replacement how to play the game.

In between, I experienced all it is to be a major leaguer. I have been the disappointment, I have been the "can't miss," I have been the cornerstone, I have been the underpaid, I have been the overpaid, I have been the marginalized veteran, I have been the "lost a step," I have been the "traded for," I have been the day–to–day, I have been the comeback kid, I have been the free agent, but most of all, I have been a fan, friend, son, little brother, and hometown hero. There were good years a...

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