An athlete and an ambassador

There are two things Jim Glennie is most proud of when he looks back on his career in sports.

One is his selection as a Class A all-state basketball player as a senior in high school. The other is his involvement with and development of women’s baseball.

Both of these are just part of the reason why Glennie has earned a spot in the 2013 class of the Alpena Sports Hall of Fame.

He will be inducted Saturday along with Faith Egli, Darvin Walmsley and Scott MacKenzie at the APlex.

“It’s kind of a shock because I really hadn’t though about this and I hadn’t been back to Alpena in many many years. I had heard there was a Hall of Fame, but hadn’t given it much more thought than that,” Glennie said. “To be selected is a real honor.”

Glennie, a 1960 graduate of Alpena High, earned six varsity letters as a Wildcat and was a star on the baseball diamond and the hardwood.

He played on the varsity basketball team for two years, but only really saw time as a sixth man as a junior.

His senior year, everything changed and Glennie became a star.

“All of a sudden we were a short team. I would jump center and I was 5-10. We had to fast break and make every possession count,” Glennie said. “When things gelled, I think they did look to me for scoring, but we were a unit. I scored a lot of points, but it was a different experience for a team.”

Glennie finished his senior season with a 23 points per game average, a mark that’s still good for fourth all time in the Alpena record books. He was also the only unanimous Arrowhead All-Conference selection and set conference and school records at the time for most points in a game (35).

His skills as a scorer and rebounder caught the attention of Western Michigan and Glennie accepted a scholarship there. Soon after arriving in Kalamazoo, Glennie saw himself as a little fish in a big pond and ultimately returned home to play for Alpena Community College.

Glennie played both basketball and baseball for the Lumberjacks and continued to play baseball until he was 54. Baseball was always Glennie’s preferred sport and after high school he had even turned down a scholarship offer from the University of Michigan to play basketball.

As a Wildcat, Glennie excelled as a pitcher, catcher and hitter and was also Alpena’s team captain as a senior.

“I liked baseball. I was better at basketball, but I liked baseball. I had my moments at it and as I grew up and grew taller and stronger I became an above average player. I loved baseball and I played until I was 54,” Glennie said. “I loved playing in Little League, Pony League, Alpena High and the County League.”

In fact it was while he was playing baseball, that Glennie got an idea; one that he would eventually dedicate 20 years to promoting and perfecting.

“My daughter and I were sitting around one day and there was an article in Sports Illustrated that talked about forming a women’s baseball league in Chicago,” Glennie said. “My daughter offhandedly said, ‘Dad, why don’t you start one?'”

This was in the early 1990s, around the time when “A League of Their Own” became a hit movie and Glennie was moved by his daughter’s comment to start a league. He eventually founded the Michigan Women’s Baseball League, which existed for four years.

But Glennie’s involvement with women’s baseball was just getting started.

Through his promotional efforts and involvement, the MWBL grew into a national organization, the Women’s International Baseball Association and drew international interest. Baseball organizers in Japan contacted Glennie about coming to Japan and starting a world organization and a World Series.

Glennie and a team of players went to Japan and the dream of a world baseball tournament for women was realized in 2001 when the first Women’s Baseball World Series was held at the SkyDome in Toronto. The event was held three times before it was taken over by the International Baseball Federation and renamed the Women’s Baseball World Cup.

The tournament is held every two years and this year’s edition will take place in Japan. Former Alpena High and Central Michigan softball standout Christin Sobeck played with the 2008 and 2010 bronze medal US teams while Glennie was the Director of Player Identification for the US team.

Women’s baseball has grown nationally and internationally since Glennie started the MWBL and he was since been recognized for his contributions to its growth. The Women’s Baseball World Cup MVP award is called the Glennie award in his honor and he also received the Phillip Hart Award by the Michigan Women’s Studies Association.

“I spent 20 years doing this. I’d come home from my job in the evening and spent about six hours on the Internet talking to people around the country and around the world,” Glennie said. ” I never imagined it would grow to this point and I’m really proud of it.”

As a retired assistant attorney general for the State of Michigan, Glennie had quite an accomplished career outside of sports, but his achievements as an athlete and his work with women’s baseball are the things he’s most proud of.

“Being named as all-state first team in Class A in basketball, I’ve always been proud of that,” Glennie said. “The other thing is my involvement with and development of women’s baseball over the years and that it has now become an internationally recognized sport.”

James Andersen can be reached via email at sports@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5694. Follow James on Twitter @ja_alpenanews.