Steve Sax was one of the better second baseman of his generation. A star for the Dodgers, the speedster was the 1982 NL Rookie of the Year, a five time NL All Star, a two time World Series Champion and even picked up a Silver Slugger Award in 1986. After his time in L.A., Sax played for the New York Yankees and eventually the Chicago White Sox and Oakland A’s before retiring after the 1994 season.
In the newest installment of Card Back Q&A, the Dodgers standout second baseman talks about his admiration for Pete Rose, his love of the drums and his made for TV movie moment with his father.
Tony Reid– On the back of your 1986 Fleer card it states that Pete Rose has always been an idol for you. What drew you to Charlie Hustle?
Steve Sax-Pete Rose was a guy that I admired. I liked his style of play. He didn’t seem to play for the money. He loved the game. I loved his hustle. He was an overachiever. If Pete Rose went to a tryout camp at that age he might not even get drafted. He had below average power. He had below average arm. He wasn’t a fast runner. He wasn’t a five tool player. He turned out to be one of the greatest players ever because of his heart and his tenacity. That’s what I like because I was definitely an overachiever. I wasn’t as talented as a lot of other guys. Baseball was hard for me. It was a hard game to play. I had to really gut out a lot of things. Even when I ran it wasn’t easy. My running was a big part of my game but I had to work at it. None of it was easy for me.
TR–Speaking of running and also flipping over your cards, your stolen bases totals would have led the league most years in this era. What do you think about the drop in stolen bases and the numbers the league leaders are posting these days?
SS-Yeah I think that is going to come back, Tony. I hope it does. Speed is such an exciting element of the game. People say baseball is boring. They say its long and that’s because there isn’t enough speed in the game. Speed moves the game along and you don’t see enough of that today.
TR- Your 1990 Topps Big card states that one of your favorite pastimes is playing the drums. Do you play drums today?
SS-That’s absolutely true. I love playing the drums. I’m going to start a new career when I am done with this and become a drummer in a classic rock band and off I go. I will be an 80 year old drummer someday. I started playing the drums when I was nine years old. I played in the school band. I got to do some celebrity sit-ins with the Beach Boys and Tracey Lawrence. I have always liked playing the drums. I am OK at it. I know I could be a lot better if I played more. I can play the basic stuff OK and get away with it.
TR-The back of your 1990 Little Big Leaguers card stated that you promised to hit homerun for your dying father and then went out and hit the first one of the season. Is that a true story?
SS-I remember that card. That is absolutely true. I am looking at the ball right now. My dad had heart disease and this was right before I signed with the Dodgers. I promised my dad I would hit a home run for him when he was in the hospital. He was getting ready for heart surgery. It was in American Legion. I had already been drafted and I couldn’t sign because there was an All Star game on the following Wednesday. I was drafted on Wednesday and the All Star game was the following Wednesday. If would have signed my contract I wouldn’t have been able to play in the game because I would have been a professional. Long story short, I wanted to wait a week to sign because I wanted to play in this game. I was still an amateur and I was able to play in the American Legion game. I told my dad that we had a double header in the ball park he played in in high school, at Clark Field in Woodland, and I told my dad I was going to hit a home run for him in one of these games. I was batting third and it was my first time up in the first game. It was the first pitch I saw all night. I swung and I hit a home run. I signed the ball and gave it to my dad and I wrote ‘I kept my promise’ and I gave the ball to my dad. It’s a true story. I wasn’t a home run hitter. It just turned out God was with me on that one and it happened.
More Q&A on other baseball subjects here.