"Absolutely, she's where it all comes from," Glaus says of his mom, who raised her only child by herself after divorcing her husband, Tom Glaus, when Troy was two. Karen and Troy lived in Los Angeles with three trucks parked in the driveway. Karen ran an air freight delivery service that required her to work irregular hours. Sometimes she'd let Troy ride along with her. "As a little kid it was the coolest thing to have 20-foot trucks in your driveway to play in all the time," Glaus says. "But it was never anything I wanted to do when I grew up. For as long as I can remember, the only thing I wanted to be was a baseball player. That was it."
Karen eventually quit the trucking business and moved with 11-year-old Troy 90 miles south to Carlsbad, where she ran a small accounting firm. In 1994 Troy, a shortstop graduating from Carlsbad High, was drafted in the second round by the San Diego Padres but declined to sign. "That's when they were going through their fire sale," he says of the failed contract negotiations, "and they just never got close."
That was around the time, Glaus says, that he last spoke with his father, who, after Troy's Little League years, gradually slipped out of his son's life. "I think he's in Colorado or someplace now; I really don't know," Glaus says. "It doesn't matter. My mother was the biggest influence on me, without question." Karen, since remarried, lives in Philadelphia and often catches up with Troy on the road, as she did last month in Baltimore and Minnesota, or on trips to Anaheim.
When the Angels drafted Glaus in '97, he says, they made it clear to him right away that his days as a shortstop were over. Anaheim had Gary DiSarcina established at short and knew Glaus would outgrow the position. ("They were right," Glaus says. "That was 25 pounds ago.") But the team had long been troubled at third base. Doug DeCinces, who also happened to be Glaus's agent at the time, is the only third baseman in the club's 40-year history to make the All-Star team. Last year Glaus became the seventh Opening Day third baseman for the Angels since 1992.
After a .341 start in April 1999, he plunged to .222 the rest of the way. Worse, the Angels lost 92 games with a fractured clubhouse in a miserable season that claimed the jobs of general manager Bill Bavasi, manager Terry Collins and his entire coaching staff, with the exception of Maddon. "I struggled all year long," Glaus says. "I was lost. But the only thing that matters was 92 losses. It was no fun."
It is a reflection of this greatest extended period of slugging in baseball history that Glaus, in what he considered to be a flop of a season, still launched 29 home runs. That's more than Hall of Fame third baseman Brooks Robinson ever hit in any of his 23 seasons and a total that George Brett, another Hall of Famer at the position, surpassed only once. "What really impressed me was that no matter how much he struggled at the plate, he never took it into the field," Maddon says. "That's very unusual for a young player. Nobody plays the position better in our league, and I thought the same thing last year. People forget, because of his size, that he's still so inexperienced. He's really just a baby in this game."
Glaus's first order of postseason business was to have both knees arthroscopically cleaned out, a procedure that may have been inevitable because he grew so fast as a child. Glaus finished eighth grade at 5'6" and started his freshman year of high school three months later at 6'2". After the minor surgeries Glaus hired a former boxer to train him over the winter. They concentrated on flexibility, sprinting and weightlifting that wouldn't add bulk. "At my size I have to be careful not to get too big," he says. "Think about it: A boxer has to get the most strength out of his body while staying within a certain weight class. I worked harder than I ever have in my life. It was really the first time I set up that kind of program. I have no doubt I'm seeing the results now."
At week's end Glaus led all major league third basemen in home runs and was on track to become the first 40-home-run hitter in franchise history—if Vaughn, who had 18 dingers, doesn't get there first. Glaus also has a career-high eight stolen bases.
Despite his range and strong arm, however, Glaus has committed 13 errors (the most among third basemen in the majors, and tied for the most by any player in the American League). He also has whiffed 57 times, fourth most in the league. He rarely hits the ball on the ground because of a slight uppercut in his swing that pitchers can exploit. Glaus remains a work in progress. He hits with raw power off his back foot in a kind of recoil manner reminiscent of McGwire early in his career, before he learned how to extend through the ball, which added even more remarkable carry to his blasts. " McGwire has a quick stroke," Dodgers hitting coach Rick Down says. "[Glaus] has a long stroke. If you get him off the plate with fastballs and get him off balance away by changing speeds, you can pitch to him."
Says Hatcher, "One of the things we're getting him to do is be more aggressive, to go ahead and fire a little more, like on 3-and-0 counts every once in a while. His skills are so good and he's such a good worker that he's going to continue to get better."