May 09, 2011
Former Philadelphia Stars catcher Stanley Doc Glenn passed away a couple of weeks ago. I had the pleasure of interviewing Doc several years ago when I hosted a radio show, and it was one of the coolest interviews I have ever done. I asked him if he played against Satchel Paige. Not only had he played against him, he had caught for him. I asked him if he had played against Josh Gibson. He responded that Gibson had once run over him at home plate. I have the interview saved on cassette somewhere in this house and will not rest until I find it. It wasn’t just the stories, but the enthusiasm and the warmth that went with them that made me extremely sorry to hear that Mr. Glenn recently passed away.
Glenn was born in Wachapreague, Va. and moved to Philadelphia as a youngster. He was a star at Bartram and the Yankees sent out feelers after seeing his stats. When they realized he was black, they backed off (the league was not yet integrated.) He was quickly signed by the local Stars. When the Majors were integrated in 1947, Glenn was signed by the Braves and played in their minor league system before retiring and going into the electrical supply business. In the 1990s, he became President of the Negro League Baseball Players Association, taking the opportunity to speak about the Negro Leagues every chance he got. In an interview he did with sportswriter Chris Murray in 2005, he said of the Negro Leagues,
“Let me tell you something, fella, Negro League baseball was a happening in the Black world. Women came to the ballpark dressed in their Sunday best, high heel shoes, silk stockings and they had hats on their heads on their hats and long-sleeved gloves … Let me tell you something, we married some of the girls. They would be there dressed to kill. You would think you were at a cotillion.”
His enthusiasm for baseball and for life were such that even now, 9 years after I did a 20 minute interview with him, I can hear his voice as clearly in my head as if I just got off the phone with him. In 2006, he wrote a book about the Negro Leagues called “Don’t Let Anyone Take Your Joy Away”. It was the motto Doc Glenn lived by. He dealt with injustice and racism with dignity and self-respect, and when the dust settled, he refused to judge other people the way he had often been judged. Again from the Murray interview,
“Ignorance doesn’t claim any one in particular. If you’re ignorant and your dumb, then you’re just plain ignorant and dumb,” Glenn said.
Stanley Glenn never got a chance to play in the Majors. He was denied the opportunity to sign with the Yankees because of his skin color. He was at times treated harshly by restaurant owners, police, and fans simply because of the color of his skin. But he never stopped loving baseball, never stopped loving people of all backgrounds, never stopped educating people about America’s past, and never let anyone take his joy away. Philadelphia just lost one of a kind. RIP Stanley “Doc” Glenn. This city is a better place for you having lived here.
RELATED: His obituary in the Philadelphia Tribune.