Doug Glanville remembers watching a teammate get kicked in the chest after a High School baseball game fraught with racial tension.
“Thank goodness my coach was really quick,” the former Cub said on the Cubs Talk Podcast this week. “The bus was right there. And all he could do was whisk people onto the bus because the last thing he needed was a brawl with young high school Black kids and this angry white mob of workers throwing N-words at us.”
Glanville shared the story as part of a round-table discussion on the declining number of African American players in Major League Baseball, and the sport’s access issues from the youth level on up. He, NBC Sports Chicago’s Laurence Holmes and The Bigs Media co-founder Eugene McIntosh talked about experiences from their playing days and sought solutions to the league’s diversity problem.
Glanville grew up in Teaneck, New Jersey. The town voluntarily desegregated its public schools in the 1960’s.
“I came along in 1970 and watched a town that was truly committed to inclusion,” Glanville said. “So, I had this integrated, diverse experience where my teammates were from different backgrounds and different walks of life. And we were sort of this sesame seed inside of a Bergen County that was mostly white suburbs with a lot of wealth.”
He and his teammates took pride in that. Not only were they playing to win, they were fighting in the name of diversity.
“Baseball was diplomacy in my world,” Glanville said. “And it was a diplomacy of seeing players of color, diversity, taking on mostly homogenous teams, catholic schools, and representing.”
During his sophomore year, against one such homogeneous team in what Glanville describes as a “blue collar town,” Glanville and his teammates endured heckling all game long. A spectator hurled a racial slur at Glanville’s teammate, and the teammate said something back.
The encounter grew so heated that Glanville’s team had to climb the football stands to get to the bus. At the top, Glanville said, one of the people in pursuit kicked the team’s captain, who was Black.
“But you know what was so powerful about that was our team bonded even more over that,” Glanville said. “… We were like, we are one family, and we’re not going to put up with this.”
Can MLB harness baseball’s powers of diplomacy? For more stories and analysis from Glanville, Holmes and McIntosh, listen to the Cubs Talk Podcast.