WASECA, MINN. – Gene Glynn will be back where he was three decades earlier, coaching high school lads in basketball in Minnesota's mid-south, when practice commences for the St. Clair Cyclones' 2021-22 season in November.
It has been a winding trail from Mankato Loyola's Crusaders to the Cyclones for Glynn, remembered by most Minnesota sports followers for being a baseball man, remembered by many fewer as the first winner of the state's "Mr. Basketball" award for Waseca in 1975.
Glynn followed that with basketball and baseball stardom for what was then Mankato State from 1975 to 1979. He was signed out of college for the Montreal Expos by Bob Gebhard, the pride of Lamberton, Minn.
There were mainly TV glimpses of Glynn for Minnesota fans after that, on an MLB package or the late, lamented "Baseball Tonight": Glynn waving home runners as the third base coach for the Rockies (1995-98), the Cubs (2000-2002) or the Giants (2003-06).
Come 2012, you could find occasional Glynn quotes in the Twin Cities media as manager of the Rochester Red Wings, the Twins' Class AAA club.
Glynn received one of the interviews in October 2014 after Ron Gardenhire was fired as manager. Paul Molitor had a lock on that from the get-go, but it worked out for Glynn. He was Molitor's third base coach for four seasons.
Molitor was fired in October 2018 by baseball CEO Derek Falvey. Glynn also went, although not based on decisions to send or stop runners.
"There's a theory for third base coaches that's been around a long time: 'When in doubt, send him,' " Glynn said.
We were having lunch at Oscar's, "a small place out on the highway," on Thursday. We were there for an hour-plus. No one came or went that Glynn failed to address by a first name or with a wave.
Waseca still remembers Glynn leading the Bluejays to those back-to-back state tournaments in 1974-75, and as an early star for legendary baseball coach Tink Larson's teams. The rest know nieces or nephews, or grandnieces and grandnephews.
Eugene and Mary Glynn raised 14 kids, eight boys and six girls, on a farm between Waseca and Janesville. Gene was No. 13, and older siblings told Dad it was now or never — Sept. 22, 1956 — for another Eugene.
Asked for a number of nieces and nephews, Gene said: "I could only guess … 50? And then more grandnieces and grandnephews than that."
Glynn's first go-round as a prep basketball coach came based on unemployment. His playing career ended after six seasons due to light hitting, and then he coached and managed in the Montreal minors for five years.
"I was let go as a Class AA coach right after the 1989 season," he said. "I needed a job."
Gene and Julie Glynn were living in Mankato. John Jimenez had left as Mankato Loyola's well-regarded boys' basketball coach. Glynn was hired, with Dan Ireland as assistant and Brad O'Donnell on the Loyola staff.
Loyola made it to the 1990 Class A state title game vs. Lake City that first season, at a time when there were two classes.
Danny Ward, a Glynn nephew, was a Loyola standout. Lake City was leading 52-51 in the closing seconds. Ward drove and put up a shot that circled the inside of the cylinder, popped out, re-entered briefly and then fell off the rim.
Lake City rebounded with seven seconds left, survived, and won coach Jerry Snyder's third state title, and the first without Randy Breuer.
Glynn headed off quickly to Yuma, Ariz., for late arrival to the Padres' minor league camp. He remained as Loyola's coach for two more baseball offseasons.
He switched to the Rockies organization in 1992, where Gebhard was the general manager of an expansion team due to start in 1993. Glynn managed the first Rockies' collection in 1992, the rookies in Bend, Ore.
Glynn became manager Don Baylor's third base coach in 1995. They developed such a friendship that he still shakes his head in sadness over Baylor's death in 2017.
"Don and I started a company with a product called StanceCheck, a hitting aid," Glynn said. "Our son Geno runs that now. Our other son, Chris, is a Triple-A coach in Albuquerque for the Rockies."
Still lots of baseball and, soon, basketball … in St. Clair, 15 miles from home in Waseca.
Charlie Freitag stepped down after last season. The athletic director looking for a Cyclones coach was Brad O'Donnell. Gene received encouragement to pursue the job. Ireland, who had been a state championship coach at Loyola in 2003, said he would come along.
"I mentioned to Gene that we have generations that all know Gene Glynn, but not the kids he's going to be coaching," O'Donnell said. "He was prepared for that. To bring in Gene and Dan … we're excited about that."
There's also not 100% lack of Gene Glynn awareness for the Cyclones. A standout returnee, Mason Ward, is a grandnephew.
"Lots of basketball excitement down here, with the Bluejays winning their first state title since 1918 this season," Glynn said. "That was the Spanish flu. Now COVID. People aren't joking, but they are pointing it out."