Published: July 13, 2013
Glenallen Hill, manager of the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, might have played in the NFL if he had not been blessed with the ability to launch baseballs into the sky. He hit 186 home runs while playing for seven different teams from 1989 to 2001.
He's an intense Christian who talks openly and constantly about his faith.
He's a close friend of Barry Bonds, and insists the home run king is misunderstood. Bonds has been described as surly. Hill describes Bonds as "just a nerdy kid."
Hill was named in The Mitchell Report, released in 2007, that detailed his transgressions with performance-enhancing drugs. He is open about his regrets and plans to warn young players about the perils of PEDs.
"Kids really need to understand that performance-enhancing drugs is something this is not sustainable," Hill said in December. "It is temporary. ... What I mean is, it's not real."
He has yet to explore Colorado Springs' downtown, where some leaders want to construct a shiny new baseball stadium.
Question: Bill Walsh, who coached the 49ers to three Super Bowl titles, tried in 1986 to persuade you to try out. He said, "There isn't any question he'd be in the NFL right now if not for baseball." Was Walsh right? Could you have played in the NFL?
Answer: I was a halfback. I played football my junior and senior year in high school at Santa Cruz. Football was the first sport that I took a liking to as a kid. I remember playing football on Sundays at a local church and in my neighborhood.
My father would never let me play football as a young kid. I remember I went to Pop Warner practice and practiced with the Pop Warner team and I got a helmet and shoulder pads and a jersey. I took my jersey home and my dad made me take my jersey back and return it. I was upset and was crying the whole way back and kicking rocks. I was never allowed to play football. My father knew that I loved football.
When I was a junior in high school he finally said I could play. I played Little League baseball not because I loved baseball, but because when I was 9 or 10 it was a sport I could participate in. I grew to like the game, and as I played baseball in high school and Babe Ruth, I began to love the game.
I knew when I was 10 years old that I was going to be a pro athlete, so, yes, there is no doubt in my mind that I could have played in the National Football League. I never had a doubt in that regard. Only reason I didn't go out and try out for him (in 1986) is I had gone to winter ball for the first time and at the end of winter ball, I tweaked my hamstring so I was a little bit nervous about trying out for football and not having my hamstring totally healed.
Q: Bonds is a close friend. You have said he is misunderstood. Tell us how he should be understood.
A: Let's be really clear about my relationship with him. As a San Francisco Giant, I got to know him extremely well. During that time we had a natural connection and it was very easy for us to be friends. I had a football and baseball scholarship to go to Arizona State. Had I gone to Arizona State, he and I would have been on the same baseball team. I think that he had a lot of respect for my athletic ability. He didn't think there was anyone who had the same athletic ability as he did, and once he realized there was another person like himself, it created a natural environment to be friends.
I got to know him. People don't really know about him. He's just a nerdy kid, you know. He is just a nerdy kid. He's very smart. He's very aware, and he's just a big kid. He has a very sensitive side to him. I think he is a very trusting type of person when he really gets to know you. I think he's very loyal to a certain degree, and I think he has a very small circle of friends.
Q: You told me a few weeks ago that your Christian faith is extremely important to you. Talk about how you rely on your faith.
A: It's the most important thing. Having such a strong faith in Jesus Christ, it allows me to be in the moment 100 percent and it allows me not to worry about the past and it really allows me and affords me and gives me the opportunity not to worry about the future, so I'm able to know that I am where I am because it's where God wants me to be. In order to honor that, I have to be totally present with an understanding that I cannot rely on my own understanding.
I believe 100 percent that I have a sinful nature. ... I realize there is no one who has walked the earth other than Jesus Christ who can sustain a completely holy life. It makes my life much easier if I can acknowledge that.
Life can be very plentiful if I'm living for a cause other than myself.
Q: What is your view of Security Service Field, the Sky Sox's home?
A: I think it's an old field. I think that when you compare it to some of the newer baseball fields, you know it's easy to point that this field has that and this field has this, but I think that the crew here and the ownership here are doing a really good job with trying to keep up with the times and maintain a high level of integrity with that field.
The crew and the ownership have been very helpful in listening to some of the suggestions that I have, and they continue to try and keep up with the rest of the league in terms of providing a good baseball atmosphere for the fans in the Colorado Springs area.
Q: There is a push for the Sky Sox to move to a downtown stadium. Is this a good idea?
A: You know what, I think I may have passed through downtown but it's not so big that it occurred to me that I was downtown. I don't have any views. I think that moving forward and trying to improve in life is a worthy cause, so if a new stadium is good for the community, then I'm all for it.
Q: While playing for the Chicago Cubs, you hit a home run out of Wrigley Field on May 11, 2000 that landed across the street on a Waveland Avenue roof. Do you understand the continued fuss over one of the longest home runs ever hit by a Cub?
A: Here's the deal. You know, I've been a power hitter since I started playing baseball. When I was in the Colt League, I hit balls that were extremely far. When I was in the minor leagues, I hit balls that were extremely far.
That home run that I hit off the top of the roof, I think a lot of my teammates know and fans know who saw me play in Chicago know that I routinely hit balls across the street and on the roof in batting practice.
When it happens in the game, it just brings it to reality. When you do it in a game, I just think it just solidifies what people already knew: That I could hit the ball extremely far.
Q: Are you satisfied with your career on the field?
A: Satisfied, no. I don't think I was satisfied with my career. A lot of things happened along the way that I would make different decisions now. Being where I am now, in my life today, I'm able to look at those situations and learn from them and pass along those experiences to young men who are still involved in baseball.
Some of those experiences are why I'm where God has me today. I think I could have done more and I think I could have been a better player had I made different choices, but that's me thinking from a worldly perspective. I'm not God and maybe God knew that I needed to be exposed to those choices. Maybe they were necessary for me to be where I am today.
Q: Talk about those choices.
Ultimately, whether I was a baseball player or whether I was a psychologist, I believe that my understanding of what that means today is a lot different than I was a player.
I think my understanding of being satisfied is totally different today than it was back then. No matter what I would have accomplished in baseball. Ultimately all those accomplishments and failures were preparing me to spread the good news of Christ. Selfishly from a world view, I wanted to do more with my time in Major League Baseball. I wish now that I had been playing more for Jesus Christ and less for Glenallen Hill.
Playing for Glenallen Hill, it gave me opportunities to make choices. The consequences of my decisions are what give me a dissatisfied feeling.
I think I could have done more with my opportunity in spreading the good news of our Jesus Christ as a player. That's where I could have done more and had I have done more, I don't know how that would have affected what I did as a player as far as the worldly perception of that?
Q: How important is winning for a minor league baseball team?
A: Developing a winner mentality is more important than actually winning a baseball game. There are a lot of circumstances in day to day where you are trying to develop a winning mentality and I think all those things come together. Ultimately we are trying to prepare these men to have a winning mentality, so when they need to have a concrete foundation to what it takes to be a winner.
I think that people need to become aware of that. At the end of the game, somebody is going to win and somebody is going to lose. In the minor leagues, you're trying to develop winners from a big pot of players from different circumstances. Winning is always important but the circumstances can be a little gray.
Q: You're an avid cyclist. Have you been able to enjoy the trails in Colorado Springs?
A: No. Every time that I drive to Security Service, I see a bike path, and I immediately say that I need to get a bike.
I need to take ownership and I need to lose about 15 pounds. I'm a pretty thick person. I haven't totally adjusted to the difference of the food choices that are available on a regular basis, and that's all on me.