In the following passage from The Game From Where I Stand, Doug Glanville examines the unwritten code of conduct that guides the “family room”—an Undisclosed Location inside every baseball stadium where the players’ relatives and significant others can congregate.


Once an outsider gains admittance, a Queen Bee sets the standard for behavior. She is usually the wife of a senior player. Mess with the Queen Bee, and you’ll get stung, especially if you’re a rookie.

My introduction to this phenomenon came during my first year in Chicago. I had a guest at the game and hadn’t made clear where she should wait for me after the game. I just left the tickets and figured that I would run into her near the team parking lot. She ended up in the family room, probably by following the crowd around her, as she was sitting in the VIP section with the guests of other players.

After the game, I strolled toward the family room. When I got there, our Queen Bee, Margaret Sandberg (wife of [Cubs second-baseman] Ryne), stopped me at the door and began her interrogation. Was that woman inside the room my guest? I was speechless and must have had a quizzical look on my face because I genuinely could not see past her. In fact, I am not even sure I had ever been in the family room at that point. I had no wife, and my parents were back in New Jersey. Peeking inside, I immediately understood the problem with bringing “random” people into the family room. My date was wearing a skin-tight white body suit with PRECIOUS stenciled across the front written over a set of red lips—a fashion ensemble that understandably made a lot of people in that room uncomfortable.

Since I was a rookie player who was single and free-flowing, I could not fathom the importance of protecting the nuclear family as the Queen Bee needed to do, but I understand it now as a father and a husband. Girlfriends could be interacting with your children in an intimate setting, and you would certainly want to screen them. You also have to be sure these girlfriends aren’t opportunists and wearing skintight bunny suits for everyone else’s husband. Even as a young prospect, I immediately understood that I needed to promise Mrs. Sandberg that I’d be a little more careful in the future.

Precious’s onetime fashion faux pas was nothing compared to the constant havoc created by the girlfriend of my Phillies teammate Mike Lieberthal, whom I’ll call Rita. From the first day she strode into our world, Rita refused to learn the rules of the room. She came in firing from the hip, daring anyone to keep her out. And each time thereafter she seemed to be making a conscious effort to surpass her personal worst. On one occasion, she entered the room wearing pants that were, in the words of my schoolteacher mother, “transparent.”

It’s not pretty when a girlfriend, especially one who has broken so many rules like Rita, manages to get more privileges than a player’s wife. After the 9/11 attacks in 2001, security went up ten-fold. A player and anyone in his circle had to get a special ID to go to the family room or any other restricted area. Girlfriends were also allowed to get this identification. Somehow, the rebellious Rita was able to secure her ID well before everyone else. She then flaunted that fact to the wives, one of whom had been denied admittance to the family room because she hadn’t yet received her credentials. (She had to wait in the stands while pregnant.) The fallout was dramatic; the issue made it all the way down to the players at batting practice.

The single player with a Precious or a Rita on his arm must navigate dangerous waters. You don’t want to sell out your girlfriend. But at the same time you don’t want to upset your teammates, who are going to hear it if you bring a snake into their pre- and postgame Eden …

Before Rita was out of the circle, her repeated antics actually caused teammates to caucus before several games to figure out how to approach Lieberthal. Nothing transpired of substance other than to keep whispering in Mike’s ear that there were other fish in the sea. But just reaching that level is like DEFCON 5 for a baseball team.


From The Game From Where I Stand: A Ballplayer’s Inside View, by Doug Glanville. Reprinted by arrangement with Times Books, a division of Henry Holt and Company. Copyright 2010 by Doug Glanville.


 

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FEATURE: Desperately Seeking Blank By Doug Glanville
EXCERPT: From The Game From Where I Stand: A Ballplayer’s Inside View, by Doug Glanville. Reprinted by arrangement with Times Books, a division of Henry Holt and Company. Copyright 2010 by Doug Glanville.

 

 

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