Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Card #7: Scott Sanderson

We are done with the subset highlighting the 100-game 1981 season.  Now, into the base set.

Who Can It Be Now?
Scott Douglas Sanderson was born in Michigan but attended high school in suburban Chicago at Glenbrook North High School in Northbrook, Illinois.  He was drafted in 1974 out of high school in the 11th Round by the Kansas City Royals.  He turned down their offers and instead moved to Nashville, Tennessee, and attended Vanderbilt University.  

After spending three years in Music City wearing the Black and Gold, Sanderson was drafted with the 54th pick overall in the 1977 draft by the Montreal Expos.  The Expos promoted Sanderson aggressively through their system, as his 1982 card shows.  Just 28 games in the minor leagues later, Sanderson was starting games in Quebec by August of 1978.

Sanderson enjoyed a long career in the majors, pitching for 19 seasons with Montreal, his hometown Cubs, Oakland, and the Yankees before flipping through brief stops with the Angels, Giants, and White Sox in 1993 through 1996.  He was an all-star once but never won more than 17 games in any one season.  His trademark was his control -- he finished in the top 10 in 5 different seasons for fewest walks per nine innings.

He finished his career with 163 wins, 143 losses, and a 3.84 ERA over 2,561-2/3 innings of work.  He did not receive any votes when he was considered for the Hall of Fame in the 2002 vote, and that was probably the correct decision by the voters.

One of the cheesiest commercials in 1982 was for Florida Orange Juice -- with the catchphrase "Orange You Smart."  I am using that catchphrase here to talk about players who went on to use their brains in their post-baseball careers.

Sanderson was an anomaly of sorts -- for most of the latter part of his career, he did not employ a player agent.  He did this for a reason: he used himself as a guinea pig or crash-test dummy of sorts so that he was prepared for his post-baseball career.  He became a player agent.  

Indeed, Sanderson combined his religious beliefs with his intellect to work with Moye Sports out of Suwanee, Georgia.  As of 2008, when the story linked in this paragraph was written, Sanderson was representing such baseball players as Josh Beckett, Lance Berkman, and Todd Helton and other athletes such as then-Detroit quarterback Jon Kitna and later gold-medal winner U.S. Sprinter Allyson Felix.  

Some websites have poked fun at the idea that a Christian player agent would still be, well, an agent.  For example, back in 2008, Josh Hamilton was trying to negotiate a long-term contract with the Texas Rangers.  Midway through contractual negotiations, Hamilton changed agents and hired the Moye firm.  Deadspin's headline:  "Jesus Saves, But Still Takes His Usual 15 Percent."

That 2008 story noted that Sanderson was involved with a ministry called "Unlimited Potential, Inc.", but a review of that company's website seems to indicate that he no longer is -- though former major leaguers Mickey Weston and Tony Graffanino are.

A Few Minutes with Tony L.
In 1982, I am certain that I conflated and confused Scott Sanderson with Bill Gullickson. Perhaps I was on to something even then because, using Similarity Scores, the most similar player to Scott Sanderson over their major league careers was Gullickson.  Others appearing on this list were Doug Drabek, Vern Law, Jim Lonborg, and Paul Splittorff.

As I got older, I started cheering for Sanderson because I attended (and graduated from) Vanderbilt. In the early 1990s in terms of representing Vandy in the major leagues, we had Scott Sanderson and Joey Cora and, um, that was it.  The 1970s and 1980s were not great for Vanderbilt baseball.  

It took until the 2000s for Vanderbilt to step up its game in baseball.  More recent Vanderbilt guys in the majors have included Mark Prior (though he transferred after his freshman year), Jeremy Sowers, David Price, Pedro Alvarez, Mike Minor, and Sonny Gray.

As of 1982, though, the only thing I knew about Sanderson was that he was a pretty good pitcher on a good Expos team, and he might have been Bill Gullickson but not Steve Rogers.

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