By Jim Lane
CURVE, Pa.—At 23 years of age, Curve infielder Robbie Glendinning has seen a lot of the world.
He was born in Australia and went to college in Iowa and Missouri before signing a pro baseball contract with the Pirates in 2017. Now in his third season of minor league ball, Glendinning has had his share of ups and downs while playing for teams in West Virginia, Florida and Pennsylvania.
“I was born and raised in Perth, Australia,” Glendinning said recently at Peoples Natural Gas Field. “My dad owned car rental company and sponsored a professional team so that’s how me and my brother got into baseball.
“My older brother played (baseball) and went to the University of New Orleans,” Glendinning said. “That was my pathway into baseball.”
Baseball isn’t the most popular sport in Australia.
“It’s probably eighth or ninth on the totem pole,” he said. “It’s definitely not as structured or as competitive as in the USA, but it still has a good development program.”
Good enough to get Glendinning to Northern Iowa Junior College.
“There was an American guy in Australia, Steve Fish, who created a pipe line for kids to go to college,” he noted. “A couple of Australian kids had gone to Northern Iowa and had a good time so I decided to do that, and things took off from there.”
While at NI, Glendinning went to the Junior College World Series twice and finished as the school’s all-time leader in hits, home runs, doubles, RBIs and runs scored.
From Northern Iowa, Glendinning went to the University of Missouri for one season where he batted .274 in 56 games.
“Missouri was a bit of a change, playing real college baseball,” he said. “I enjoyed it, though, and learned some valuable lessons. It was a good time in my life.”
The Pirates picked him in the 21st round of the 2017 draft and sent him to short-season West Virginia where he struggled, batting only .198 in 29 games.
“My pro career has been up and down,” Glendinning offered. “I didn’t start off that great in short-season so that was tough. I really had to adjust to the pro game and had to get a lot better so I came back (to short-season) the next year with something to prove.”
Glendinning was kept in extended spring training before going back to the short-season Black Bears where he batted .250 in 25 games. He was promoted to low-A West Virginia and batted .284 in 34 games for the Power.
“I put a good step forward that (2018) season,” he said.
When shortstop Stephen Alemais came up lame early this season, Glendinning found himself in Double-A with the Curve.
“I was here for two-and-a-half weeks,” Glendinning said. “I actually broke spring training with Bradenton and then I was called to Altoona for opening day. I was pretty certain I’d be here for only a couple weeks and it was a good lesson.”
When he went back to Bradenton, he played well for the Marauders and led the Florida State League in several categories, including batting average. He was named to the FSL all-stars and was promoted to Altoona.
He’s had ups and downs since returning to the Curve and was batting .294 in mid-July. He was knocked out of the lineup with a leg injury a couple weeks ago.
“I learned this game is a marathon,” Glendinning said. “I haven’t played this much in one season, even growing up in Australia, so this is new to me.
“I’m learning as we go and it’s a real experience, that’s for sure,” he added.
“Glendinning came here at the start of the season to take Alemais’ spot,” Curve manager Michael Ryan noted. “Then he went back to Bradenton and put up some great numbers and earned a promotion here, so credit to him.
“The league punched him back, though,” Ryan said. “It’s been up to him to make the adjustment and he hasn’t been able to do that yet. It’s going to take some time. The more you play, the more adjustments you have to make.”