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A Ballplayer’s Inside View

by Doug Glanville

Pub Date: May 11th, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-8050-9159-5
Publisher: Times/Henry Holt

Former big leaguer dishes dirt on clubhouse etiquette, romantic relationships and on- and off-the-field challenges faced by professional athletes.

Many former baseball players have penned post-career tell-alls offering an “insider” perspective on controversial aspects of the game, but few are former high-school electronics-club members who can claim an engineering degree from Penn and openly cite Hall and Oates as their favorite band. Despite Glanville’s unique profile, however, his career typifies the Major League experience of most non-superstar players—an arduous stint in the minor leagues, marked by long bus rides and shabby accommodations, followed by an up-and-down experience playing for Philadelphia, Texas, and the Chicago Cubs in the Majors. With no World Series championships, statistical records or personal steroid use to discuss, Glanville’s hook is the perspective of an articulate, highly educated African-American in a sport increasingly devoid of black players and lacking in college graduates. Unlike accounts from notorious cheats like Jose Canseco, Glanville’s narrative supplies no stunning revelations, focusing instead on in-depth coverage of the life of average ballplayers and the challenges they face, from trying to compete with more famous teammates’ extravagant expenditures on cars and houses to the difficulties of maintaining a relationship to the mixing of race and culture in the clubhouse. The author, as straight an arrow as can be found in professional sports, comes off as almost comically innocent in describing his encounters with celebrities or recounting his rare nights out, confessing to only one instance of obvious drunkenness in front of teammates. Though short on front-page controversies, the book’s eclectic nuggets of insight—from the virtues of different sunflower-seed flavors to how managers play aging veteran journeymen against the league’s best pitchers in order to protect the confidence of their young stars—make it a good diversion during the seventh-inning stretch.

A simulacrum of the author’s career—some swings and misses, but generates enough hits to maintain interest.