Doug Glanville is a classic cross-platform player at ESPN – a true modern media member.
Recently, his ESPN MLB analyst role has evolved into more of a multi-platform presence. In addition to his analyst duties on Wednesday Night Baseball and Baseball Tonight, Glanville pens a recurring column for ESPN.com.
In a thoughtful interview with Front Row, Glanville discusses how his ESPN.com writing role came to fruition, his deep passion for prose and how it connects him to his late father.
Could you describe how your regular writing role for ESPN.com came together?
It took time to find the right mix, but I believe my writing style connected well with our new editor, Cristina Daglas. She has a magazine history and fortunately for me, she saw a great opportunity to use my work more consistently while simultaneously expanding on it.
I tend to lean towards an essay-driven, experiential style of writing, and it was wonderful to see her respond so well to it. We met, continued to have an open conversation about what was possible, and then pen went to paper (or fingers to keyboard). She also deals with the incessant list of ideas I have every week, for which I am eternally grateful. I have to also credit Paul Kix from [ESPN The Magazine] who really pushed for me as an advocate.
You’ve long been writing pieces as a freelancer for various, popular publications, what is it about writing that you enjoy and when did you realize you had a talent for it?
When I first interviewed with ESPN, as a former player, my writing background was unusual. I had built a nice “brand” from The New York Times, primarily, and I had already written a book before I set foot on ESPN’s campus for the first time. When my book came out, it was funny to hear from people who knew me for a lifetime after they read it. They all said reading it was like having a conversation with me. I speak in essays. I remember thinking that could be a problem for my job at ESPN, when at times, you need to respond on air in 10 seconds or less.
I came from a fantastic school district in Teaneck, N.J. where my mom taught. Specifically, I had top flight English teachers throughout. When I got to Penn for college, as an engineer, I kept getting A’s on papers, so I started to think I was onto something. Then, when the Mitchell Report broke about PEDs and baseball, I was inspired to write about it. I remember feeling an overwhelming sense of obligation and therapeutic relief to dig into the issues. I was perfectly situated as a former player who had done a lot of work on the drug policy.
On a personal level, writing also is the most direct connection I feel with my late father, who passed away in 2002. He often wrote poetry to express a moment of inspiration. I truly feel like I am channeling him when I write. If you can imagine getting a glimpse, a feeling of someone special you have lost in your life, it becomes an important part of your life to keep that feeling close to you. The social justice work is my mother, who has committed a life to such issues. So I must say, writing is much more than just giving an opinion for me.
Do you have any pieces in the works that you’re excited to see published?
I am looking forward to completing a piece about social justice that I am currently researching. I want to know from players about the challenges of speaking out on social justice issues. I have had some amazing conversations already. Even though I played, it is eye-opening to see the new challenges with social media and with the 24-hour news cycle.
I have had some direct experiences in the last couple of years that I wrote about which led to changes in policy and even law, so I am hoping to bridge that direct experience to helping players figure out an effective way to get their voice out there.