Top 100 Baseball Blog

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Glenn Wilson and His Journey Through Baseball

Only a small percentage of baseball players who sign or are drafted end up playing in the major leagues. Therefore, when a prospect pans out and goes on to have a solid career, it’s quite the accomplishment. When outfielder Glenn Wilson became a professional player, he began with high expectations but more than lived up to them during his decade as a big leaguer.

After playing for Sam Houston State in college, the right-handed Wilson was drafted with the 18th overall pick in the first round of the 1980 draft by the Philadelphia Phillies. He was taken just ahead of other highly-touted youngsters like Terry Francona and Billy Beane, who would both go on to have more success on the administrative side of the game than on the field.

After tearing up the minors for two years, Wilson was summoned to the Tigers to start the 1982 season and had a tremendous rookie campaign, hitting .292 with 12 home runs in 84 games. His first major league hit was a double off Ron Guidry and the New York Yankees, while his first homer came off Dave Frost and the Kansas City Royals.

A solid all-around player, Wilson was best known for his cannon arm (109 career assists from the outfield) and for running a gas station while his career was in full swing. Prior to the start of the 1984 season he was the centerpiece of the trade that sent him to the Philadelphia Phillies for that year’s eventual American League Cy Young winner, Willie Hernandez, among others. The outfielder also went on to play for the Seattle Mariners, Pittsburgh Pirates and Houston Astros before calling it a career following the 1993 season.

In 1,201 career games, he hit a combined .265 with 98 home runs and 521 RBIs. His best season came in 1985 with the Phillies, as he hit .275 with 14 home runs and 102 RBIs; earning an All Star selection.

Since retiring as a player, Wilson has gone on to do a variety of things, including a stint as a manager in the independent leagues. He also wrote a book titled Headed Home, which details his journey to his spirituality. Recently, he agreed to answer some questions about his career.

Glenn Wilson Interview:

Who was your favorite athlete when you were growing up, and why?: My favorite player was Joe Namath. I was not a baseball fan. He is the reason for me wearing 12 when available.

Can you describe your draft experience with the Tigers in 1980?: Being drafted in the first round was the most exciting thing ever.

Your first major league hit came off Ron Guidry and the New York Yankees in 1982. What do you remember about that moment?: After the hit off Guidry, he stepped off the mound and looked at me on second base and gave me a congratulatory nod.

In your opinion, who was the most talented player you ever played with or against?: Barry Bonds was hands down the greatest hitter I ever played with or saw. Ken Caminiti was the greatest infielder. I was the greatest outfielder. Lol

What is your favorite moment from your baseball career?: My favorite moment came in Wrigley.  I was at 91 RBIs with nine games to go in 1985. I hit a grand slam and a solo homer in that game and knew then I would get 100. Actually, 102.

Prior to the start of the 1984 season, you were traded to the Phillies. What is being traded like?: Being traded from Detroit stunk. I had been their number one pick and had two pretty solid years. Then I remembered the Phillies had just been in the World Series. That first year was a tough adjustment.  I only spent five days with them in spring training. I never felt comfortable in ‘84. Plus, the Tigers were running away with their division.

Please talk a little about what it was like to play for manager Sparky Anderson?: I hated Sparky Anderson and he hated me. So it was a good trade because we would have come to blows.

Do you mind sharing why you and Sparky didn’t get along?: I think, number one, Sparky never liked rookies. Plus, we both had big egos. You know how sometimes when you first meet someone you can just tell they don't like you? That was how I felt. Plus, not one time after a good play or home run did he just pat me on the back. But he would always stop me and explain how you could have done this or that. If you read my book I go into better detail about our relationship. He took some what I felt were unfair shots at me on TV and in the papers. So I got him back using those same sources. Once he started me in ‘83 on the road in the home opener in Minnesota and he got wind a TV crew was going to follow me around at my apartment and driving to the home opener. I had a good series in Minnesota but when I got to the ball park my name was not in the lineup. Obviously, I was pissed but remembered the cameras were rolling so I had to play it off like no big deal.  I did, but when the reporter asked me how I felt I said, I feel ‘fine, Sparky just makes out the lineup and I have no control of that. He is not God, just a manager.’ He got me back later by not starting me in my home state knowing I would have family and friends there. Those are just a few of our feuds. There are many more in my book.

If there is anything you could go back and do differently about your baseball career, what would that be?: Anything I would do different? Not have an agent.

What are you up to since retiring as a player?: Since my playing career ended, I have tried many things. I was not very good at any of them, except managing independent ball, where three of my four years my teams went to the championship.

You can check me out on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @historianandrew

1 comment:

  1. Sparky never liked rookies? Do the names, Chris Pittaro or Torey Lovullo ring a bell. Really enjoy the site, btw.