Shining a spotlight on celebrities and athletes who love to travel. Created and developed by Stacy Steponate Greenberg.
Start with freshly cut grass, the greenest you’ve ever seen. Add hot dogs and cracker jacks. Then multiply it by 162 games. What do you get? Baseball Season! To help kick off opening week, the Overhead Compartment felt it only appropriate to play the field with one of the most interesting minds in the game. ESPN MLB analyst Doug Glanville spent nine years in the Major Leagues, his travels taking him all over the country, with highlights that included the game-winning hit in Game 3 of the 2003 NLCS for the Chicago Cubs, and a 293-game errorless streak to finish his career. He finished his playing days with exactly 1100 hits, and more recently hit a home run as a best-selling author with “The Game From Where I Stand, An Insider’s Revealing Look at the Hidden World of Major League Baseball.”
The Overhead Compartment with Doug Glanville starts now….
OC: Playing for the Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers, your travels took you all over. What was your favorite city to visit play in? Why?
DG: There is a rule of thumb that a hitter loves a city and a stadium where he hits well in. Shea Stadium, which was not that sexy, was a favorite stop of mine. The ball looked like the Moon when I stepped in the batter’s box, but I digress.
There are so many amazing cities in baseball so it is tough to choose. However, I will have to go “international” to answer your question. Montreal was my favorite city to visit. I was fascinated by the multi-cultural world that blended diversity in a very inclusive way. The languages, the history, it was like stepping into Europe, but with a twist. It was probably the only city in my time in the big leagues, where regularly, I would have 20 or more people at a game from people I met out around the city. I would say they probably represented 20 different countries. I am in my element in these kinds of environments. I was amazed at how many people spoke at least three languages. I wish I could speak five.
If I chose a US city, I would say Chicago would be right at the top. My wife and I liked it so much, that once my playing days were over, we moved to Chicago and lived there for five and a half years, before my work at ESPN made the commute difficult to sustain, so we reluctantly left. Chicago has the best of many worlds. The New York big culture and arts. The easy transportation system to get around. The lake, the sports, and the friendliness even with that extended winter. Winter did not stop people in Chicago, they just bundled up and went to town. Resilient but kind. I miss my time there.
I will say, I was fortunate with all of those cities. I went to college in Philadelphia so that was special to both play as a visitor and as a regular Phillie. I grew up a Phillies fan so it was magic to just walk in the footsteps of the players I loved as a kid. The magic was because, they became my family as an adult. Garry Maddox, one of my favorite players growing up, went to my wedding, so that was the ultimate full circle.
Texas was big Texan hospitality. Everything was big there. The trucks, the lanes on the highway and I was there when the organization had some cash flow. Our plane was amazing. First class seating throughout. Two parking spaces per player. Pure luxury. Unfortunately, we were not very good in my half season there.
OC: Which visiting ballpark had the friendliest fans?
DG: In the heart of my playing days, I would say St. Louis. I was often impressed by how much they just loved great baseball. It was not unusual that if I made a great defensive play, they were clapping (as an opponent). Fans would yell out “Nice play.” I can’t say that was true in a lot of places. I often received fan mail from experiences with Cardinals fans or from games in St. Louis. That says a lot.
OC: Which had the unfriendliest?
DG: The Bay Area was hardcore. I played there against the Giants fans, then later against the A’s fans. Pick your poison. They love their team and they do not love your team. Simple as that. I remember the Giants’ stadium had this roped off area on the concourse that you would have to pass on the way to the dugout. At different times before the game (and right after it), you would have to walk uncomfortably close to these rabid Giants fans and after a loss, they would let you have it. I can’t imagine what it must have been like if you were a Dodger. I imagine by now, they fixed this issue because I anticipated they would have to put up a steel wall eventually.
OC: Which baseball city has the best restaurants?
DG: It is not as easy of a question as a baseball player because the night games brought you home after midnight so we were always dealing with after hours spots to eat. In fact, we mostly just ate in the clubhouse after the game which had very good food in most cases. So if you were to learn a city’s cuisine, it mostly came during lunch hours, but I am not big on lunch, so I became a serious breakfast expert. My wife has suggested many times that I do a breakfast recipe book based on my travels. I was one of the few players on any team that I played on, who liked to wake up fairly early to make sure I got a big breakfast (those late ending games, most players slept in). I knew quite a few diners across the country which was a lot easier to find in minor league cities. However, San Francisco is probably the diner capital of Earth (other than my home state of New Jersey), so I never had a shortage of breakfast choices in San Fran.
Now my first date with my wife was at a place called Morning Glory in Philadelphia and they had French Toast that was divine. I ranked their’s second in the world to my own. :)
Spring Training in Florida? Villa Gallace. This place is other planet-like. I literally would take two or three different teammates a week there just to go. This is the best restaurant in the Milky Way.
OC: You wrote a book The Game From Where I Stand and have been quoted that it’s about life through the example of baseball. Can you pick three words that best describe those examples.
DG: Patience, Passion, Forgiveness
OC: What is the hardest thing about traveling with a group of baseball players?
DG: Collectively, we are an immature bunch and at the highest level, we are a spoiled, immature bunch. It made for a lot of fun, like when Curt Schilling basically bought every seat in a movie theater so we could see a early screening of Star Wars by ourselves. Big league baseball is like a traveling band of your scariest and boldest times of high school. But this time around, you are the star quarterback, all of the time. It was always funny to see people transform after having more and more major league time under their belt. The social confidence skyrockets. It takes a lot to keep the ego in check, but I will say this, these guys are focused for game time. I mean the game brought out genius, passion, traits that could come out of nowhere. Ironically, it takes a lot of maturity to understand that you have to be at your best and be the best in the world at an age when most people are figuring it out. Figuring out who they are, betting that they have more time to grow into a profession. But in baseball, it is now, there is no time for a lot of growing pains. There lies the dichotomy. Be a kid again, but as my coach once said to me but also “give up the best years of your life to do so.”
I had a lot of fun traveling with a band of brothers. We went through a lot together, from births to loss of family members to weddings, to everything. It brings out a special connection and certainly good memories when looking back.
OC: First thing you do when arriving at a hotel in your room?
DG: Collapse. I migrated away from TV as my relaxation once the Internet became so accessible. So it was rare that the TV was on in my room at all. Early on in my career, it was exciting to be on ESPN Baseball Tonight and see what the rest of the big leagues were doing, but soon, I needed my down time to get away. When my father became ill in 2000, that became even more important. I started to prepare differently in my quiet time alone. I had to grow up even quicker facing the inevitable decline of my father’s health. I remember at one point realizing that I knew very little about what was going on in the American League Central because I was so focused on the National League. I say this as being a huge baseball fan growing up. I used to know all the players in both leagues at a young age.
I don’t think I even unpacked in any given hotel room. I just kept everything in that suitcase, open on the floor. Maybe room service, maybe meet a teammate for brunch or a friend I knew in the city. That was a big bonus about attending a college that had people from all over the world. When I was playing, I just reconnected with a lot of people all over the country, and this was pre-Facebook explosion. Email was plenty. It also helped that my high school class was really special. People traveled the world from my class, so outside of my wonderful fraternity of friends, I had a lot of support from family and friends across the country. The hotel rooms get lonely, but I still felt connected.
OC: What’s the strangest thing that ever happened to you on a team plane?
DG: Well there was a couple. In the minor leagues, we flew from Indianapolis to St. Louis on the way back to Des Moines, Iowa. The weather was horrendous. Stormy. At one point, the interior lights went out, the flight was like a knuckleball. One of my teammates had a woman practically in his lap the whole flight. She told him that if we landed safely, she would give him her BMW. We were all pretty tense. We landed and had to sleep in the airport. So at the gate was the Iowa Cubs and then suddenly, I realized there was this other team, or at least part of a team. Women’s soccer. Turned out it was the World Cup team that would go on to win in 1999. I decided to read, and so did one of the soccer players. We were reading the same book. To this day, we are in touch. Brandi Chastain, Lorrie Fair, Tiffeny Milbrett.
But on the plane in the big leagues. Well there was Sammy Sosa having to be separated from getting into a brawl with a flight attendant. That was interesting, but he actually didn’t really start the confrontation.
Flying shortly after 9/11 was pretty harrowing.
OC: How about on a regular plane?
DG: Thankfully, I have had minimal drama on flights in my life. That says a lot considering how much I have flown. But I did get stuck in the airplane bathroom at one point. The lock broke so they had to literally pick the lock to get me out. Fortunately, I am not claustrophobic.
OC: How hard was it to get used to being just a normal passenger after all those years of charter flights?
DG: It was not that big of a transition. I think the minor league travel sort of sticks in your soul to stay humble. That is what I like about baseball, you gradually pay your dues and the rewards only slowly trickle into you. Even in travel. What was different is flying with other people besides your teammates. Also before 9/11 the check-in was very lenient for us. We could just walk right onto the runway and onto the plane. After 9/11, no more.
OC: As the father of three kids, what’s the hardest part of family travel?
DG: Well, I can say it is getting easier. :) We have always been brave. Our oldest, our son was a frequent flyer as soon as he could hold his head up. So overall, our kids are great travelers. It is hard to carry all of the “stuff.” Car seats or suitcases. Medicine for just in case… Special stuffed animals and so on. It is a lot to carry and at our kids ages, they are minimally helpful in carrying things. Our son turns a suitcase into a vehicle, our youngest daughter just stops in the middle of the crosswalk and twirls her hair. Then on the flight, you need non-stop entertainment and snacks. It keeps you on your toes. We heard a father say. Traveling with your kids is considered a “trip” not a “vacation.” But, I would say, we still have a good time.
OC: What is your favorite place for a family vacation?
DG: We are just establishing some travel traditions. When it is the off-season, we hit North Carolina for Thanksgiving to visit my brother and my wife’s parents. We drive from Connecticut so it is a long trip. But we stay for ten days.
We also go to Los Angeles to visit my wife’s brother. This year, we stopped in Disney and popped into Space X (which was my Disney).
But I think the long term winner will be Puerto Rico. We went for ten days this winter and we had a great time. I enjoyed showing the kids where I played for two seasons and how wonderful the people treated me. It was special and I hope to do it annually.
OC: Complete the following sentence: I never leave home without my:
DG: Cell phone
OC: You spent most of your MLB career in Philadelphia. What are three things every visitor should check out?
DG: National Constitution Center, Citizens Bank Park, Independence Hall
OC: Philly Cheese Steak vs. Chicago Italian Beef Sandwich….which wins and why?
DG: Philly. Cannot beat the bread.
OC: One thing nobody in the world knew about me until right now is _____________________
I was the first African-American Ivy League graduate to ever make the major leagues.
I am a distant cousin of Loretta Lynch who may be confirmed as the next Attorney General of the United States. (My Mom’s maiden name is Lynch).
I eat left-handed and am ambidextrous.
My wife worked for the same law firm where our President worked for his Civil Rights experience in Chicago.
I grew up in Teaneck, New Jersey which was the first town to voluntarily de-segregate in the 60s. I went to high school with one of the makers of the series LOST (Damon Lindelof – did not know him).
Lawrence Frank, the NBA coach, was my Little League teammate.
I am good friends with John Oates, one half of Hall and Oates.
I am actively supporting a Connecticut state bill to prohibit officers from crossing town lines to enforce municipal law (because of my snow shoveling incident last year).
I met Jackie Robinson’s wife, Rachel before I was drafted in 1991.
I love French Toast, Intellivison, Dungeons and Dragons, Strat-O-Matic, and Orphan Black.
I am good friends with New York City meteorologist Amy Freeze.
My college roommate is now a lead attorney for the NFL.
Doug Glanville, please use care upon departure as items may have shifted in The Overhead Compartment during our journey. Thanks for choosing us for your travel tips! Have a wonderful day!