BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Moving up in the world, especially at a rapid rate, can be a wonderful thing. And that bullet train to the top of the baseball world? Well, it comes with a rear-view mirror, too.
Dustin Glant knows that all too well.
Glant is the new pitching coach for Indiana's baseball team, replacing Justin Parker, who left this summer for the same role at South Carolina. Glant, a 40-year-old star on the rise, was the pitching coach for the New York Yankee's Triple-A team in Scranton, Pa., this summer when Indiana coach Jeff Mercer hired him to come to Bloomington. He had been with the Yankees' organization for two-plus years after a great stint as pitching coach at Ball State.
To understand this — and just to be clear — Dustin Glant was probably a few years away from being the pitching coach of the New York friggin' Yankees, but there was another job — and another city — that he thought was a better situation.
That job? Pitching coach at Indiana. That town? Bloomington friggin' Indiana.
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Family first, no matter what
So how does a decision like this get made? It's simple, really. Glant, a Fort Wayne native, is a Hoosier through and through. So is his wife, and practically every member of her family. The Glants have two children, 4-year-old Evelyn and 2-year-old David.
Hoosier. Family. All of it.
It really, really matters. It does.
"I love the upside of the pro world with the Yankees and working there was like getting a doctorate in pitching, it really was. I loved the people I was working with,'' Glant said during an interview at Bart Kaufman Field. "It was great, it really was. But the downside was, in minor-league ball, you're seeing your kids like once every six weeks. I've got a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old. At Ball State, I was home every night. We had our daughter Evelyn while we were there and she was born and raised there, with me, with us. It was really nice to be home every night pretty much with them.
"But with my son David, in the pro game, from the family side it was just noticeable the difference because I was gone so much. He didn't gravitate toward me when I'd see him because I was gone for six weeks at a time. That's a lot when they're that small.''
It's one thing being a great pitching coach. But being a great dad and a great husband? That takes first priority. Always.
"That was the big thing when they put a strong foot forward in drawing me here to Indiana, Jeff and the athletic administration,'' Glant said. "And here I am, I have a chance to bring my wife and my kids within an hour or so of all of their cousins, all of their family, both sets of grandparents.
"Do I really say no to that? Do I really do that to them? You get one shot to raise your kids the right way. In a few years, I could look up and say I helped the Yankees for this many years, but I could also kick myself for not doing all I could for my children. That's always the priority, you know. It has to be.''
The family talk about taking the Indiana offer was plain and simple. His wife Ashley was all in, 100 percent. It was that easy.
"My wife, she went here. Her whole family did,'' Glant said. "I actually called her brother first. I asked, 'Fill me in, how's she really doing with our life out here?' He told me. They are really family oriented and it was hard to be away. We were living in Florida — (the Yankees' complex is in Tampa) — and I was gone in Pennsylvania all summer. It was hard to see any family.
"She had a good poker face when we first talked about it. But she's very excited, obviously, just to be so close to all her family again.You forget what a great town Bloomington is, and what a great campus this is. You fall in love with being here very quickly. It's such an easy place to be attracted to, and it was a slam dunk for her. She's beyond excited to be here, too, and to have all of our family so close.''
Jeff Mercer gets his man
Mercer was just as shocked that Glant would be interested, too. This is, after all, the Yankees, the most iconic brand in all of baseball, if not all of sports. That's not overstating things. But one conversation led to another, and then another. Mercer was certainly interested in Glant, but would the feeling be mutual?
"He and Justin (Parker) have been friends and grew up in the same area, and he always spoke highly of him,'' Mercer said. "He's always been so well respected, all the way back to his Ball State days. It became clear-cut very early on that he was a guy we wanted to get, but with it being the Yankees, I didn't know if there was a likelihood in getting him.
"But once he expressed an interest, we worked quickly to get him here.''
Mercer likes that he and Glant have similar personalities and beliefs, and are on the same page with modern technology. When Glant asked for things, Mercer said yes immediately because he's already there philosophically.
"From the time I got to Indiana (prior to the 2019 season), we've always stressed building a great pitching staff. Having all the tools gives them the best opportunity to be the best pitchers they can be,'' Mercer said. "There's a long history of Indiana pitchers who've gone on and done well at the next level, and we feel comfortable continuing that with Dustin.
"He's a great blend of the best of both worlds with the Yankees, who do a great job with pitching, and with his college experience at Ball State, where he was one of the best in the business there.''
Glant sent pitchers into the MLB Draft every year while at Ball State from 2017 through 2019. Drey Jameson went 34th overall in the first round of the 2019 draft after going undrafted as a high school pitcher, and struck out the side against Indiana in one inning of work in 2019 at Victory Field in Indianapolis, ''which I reminded him of the first time we met,'' Mercer said with a laugh.
Mercer is thrilled to have Glant on the staff.
"I'm excited, and at the end of the day, you want to find the best person for your pitchers. I think we've done that,'' Mercer said. "Justin was one of my best friends, and he'll do terrific at South Carolina, but Dustin will be great here, too. The first few weeks, everyone really seems to be enjoying having him here. It's certainly a great addition to our team.
"There's a great staff here, and that's saying a lot when your three weekend starters (Tommy Sommer, Gabe Bierman and McCade Brown) and your closer (Matt Litwicki) all get drafted. It's a full cupboard here, and I think we're going to be very successful on the mound. Dustin has a very good starting spot, and he's got a nice way about him. Everyone is thrilled that he's here.''
The perfect fit for Dustin Glant
Glant is loving being in Bloomington, and he's a few weeks in working with his pitchers. He'll get to see them in live action on Friday night, when they play a ''Fall Ball'' doubleheader at Bart Kaufman Field that's open to the public.
Even when Glant took the Yankees job, there was always the thought of how it worked to follow that path back home. Being native Hoosiers, it has that pull.
"Everything happens for a reason,'' Glant said. "When my wife and I decided to take the Yankees position from Ball State, that was kind of one of the thoughts then, that if we ever wanted to come back home, that IU or maybe Purdue would be an option, and that we'd be an attractive hire by then. It's great to be here.''
Following Parker is interesting, too, because they've been just good friends for so long. He has big shoes to fill, without a doubt. But he's certainly prepared for the challenge.
"I'm good friends with Justin, and I joke about it that it's hard to improve on best in the league, best in the country,'' Glant said. "There's been a long line of great pitching coaches here at Indiana, and all these successful guys have done it here. We want to continue that, but more in my style. I know how successful we've been in the Yankees system, and I tell our guys, nothing changes for me. We'll do it the same way here as we did with the Yankees.
"It's very similar to how you work with the younger guys in a pro organization, too. You really monitor work loads, and as advanced as we are, these are very similar body types and they can fit right in there. Everything we did there, we can do here. I'm very excited to get working with these guys. There's an enormous amount of talent here.''
Modern technology is a big thing in pitching these days, monitoring everything a hurler does. Mercer and Glant have similar thoughts there, and whatever Glant wants, he gets. Mercer has no problem with that. These two are going to get along fine, and they'll do big things together.
"When I came out to talk, and I was just blown away with Jeff, and that was a big thing,'' Glant said. "He flat out told me, whatever you need from the technology side, we can do that here just like how you develop kids with the Yankees. It's yours, it's your baby.
"That was a big, huge piece for me because that's just not the case with most college programs. I was super impressed with him and the facilities — and the history of Indiana baseball speaks for itself.''
Glant wants to be patient in learning his pitchers. He's had conversations with Mercer and Parker, ''but I didn't want a lot of preconceived notions,'' he said. He'll work with them and let things play out in regards to fill roles.
"I asked purposely to let things play out. I don't want to know much, because I've promised guys a clean slate with no preconceived notions,'' Glant said. "We'll compare notes later. If you're coming off a good season, that's great. Keep it up. And the younger guys, just keep showing me things. I'm just trying to put it all on the wall and let it sort itself out. I've been capturing a lot of video and watching a lot of good bullpen sessions to get a good base.
"I trust Justin enough to pick his brain, and he was excited for me. He's told me a lot and has been a good resource. He told me there are a lot of great arms here, that the cupboard isn't bare despite all those guys getting drafted. And I can see that already. There's a very high level of talent here, that's for sure.''
Glant's baseball journey has taken him from high school star to Purdue pitcher to minor-leaguer for a half-dozen years, and then as a high school and college coach, ending at Ball State before going to the Yankees.
And now it's Indiana, and he's much smarter now than he's ever been.
"The biggest thing I learned is that you really don't know anything (as a college coach) until you get to the other side,'' Glant said. "With the Yankees, it was like getting a doctorate in pitching. I probably knew just enough to be dangerous at Ball State, but now it's like night and day. The Yankees take all the guesswork out of it. You put in the time and you care about the kids. That never changes for me. That's been the same everywhere, and it'll be the same here.
"My time with the Yankees was great. It's such an impressive group of people. "But I was born and raised in Indiana and in our house, we were all Indiana basketball fans growing up and there was no two ways about it. It was the same thing in my wife's house. Being here in Indiana really does mean a lot to me and my family.''