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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, June 12, 2019 1:00 am

Ex-Warrior quickly becomes pro baseball player

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

At 9 a.m. Monday, Glen McClain went through a workout with Arizona Diamondbacks officials in the hope of getting an offer from the team as an undrafted free agent. Barely 12 hours later, he was on a field in Milwaukee playing in his first professional game.

In between, McClain, the former Indiana Tech All-American, signed his first pro contract, agreeing to play with the Milwaukee Milkmen of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball. The signing fulfills a goal McClain has held since he was in eighth grade and is the result of 18 years of work at his craft.

“It still kind of seems surreal a little bit right now,” said McClain, a Fremont graduate. “(Monday) was such a long day and then we played (Tuesday) so it kind of doesn't seem real if that makes sense.

“It's just still baseball, it hasn't really dawned on me that I'm a professional baseball player, but obviously I'm excited to continue my career.”

McClain was originally not going to suit up for the Milkmen's game Monday because his contract was unlikely to be finalized by the time the game started. Plans changed, however, when the Milkmen had a starter injured and McClain's contract was rushed so he could be on the bench for the game.

He didn't take batting practice, a difficult situation for a player who likes sticking to a routine, but he went up to pinch hit in the eighth inning with the Milkmen comfortably in front. It was only the second time in his baseball life he'd pinch hit, but he took advantage, stepping into a professional batter's box.

“Pretty much all I was trying to do was hit something hard and find a hole,” said McClain, a two-time WHAC Player of the Year. 

He accomplished that goal, swinging slightly early on a first-pitch cut fastball and pulling it down the left-field line for an RBI double. On Tuesday, he started at first base in the Milkmen's matchup against the Sioux Falls Canaries.

The Milkmen weren't McClain's only offer from a pro baseball team. 

The Westside Woolly Mammoths of the United Shore Professional Baseball League were also interested in signing him, but he ultimately chose the Milkmen because the USPBL more often signs pitchers and the AAIPBL is known for signing position players.

He's also one of the youngest players on his team, which features a number of players who have played in affiliated baseball – what most fans know as the minor leagues.

McClain, who was a NAIA Gold Glove-winning first baseman and catcher at Indiana Tech, will play primarily at first base to start his career. He's also still waiting to hear from the Diamondbacks, who he said were impressed by his workout.

“(The Arizona official) said, 'I'm going to go to bat for you (with the front office),'” McClain said. 

Either way, McClain is now a pro baseball player, even if it hasn't really sunk in yet.

dsinn@jg.net