Bret Saberhagen

Bret Saberhagen
Born: (1964-04-11) April 11, 1964
Chicago Heights, Illinois
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
April 4, 1984, for the Kansas City Royals
Last MLB appearance
August 7, 2001, for the Boston Red Sox
MLB statistics
Win–loss record 167–117
Earned run average 3.34
Strikeouts 1,715
Career highlights and awards

Bret William Saberhagen (/ˈsbərhɡɪn/; born April 11, 1964) is an American former professional baseball right-handed starting pitcher. He played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Kansas City Royals, New York Mets, Colorado Rockies, and Boston Red Sox from 1984 through 1999, and a comeback in 2001.

Saberhagen is a three-time All-Star, a two-time Cy Young Award winner, and a Gold Glove Award winner. He led MLB in wins and earned run average in 1989, and threw a no-hitter in 1991.

Early years

Saberhagen was born in Chicago Heights, Illinois. His parents, Linda and Bob, divorced when he was five years old.[1] He attended Grover Cleveland High School, located in Reseda, California. Saberhagen starred in both basketball and baseball. In 1982, during his senior year, he pitched a no-hitter and was the winning pitcher in the Los Angeles City Championship game, played at Dodger Stadium.[2] He also played football in high school.[3]


Saberhagen was drafted out of high school by the Kansas City Royals in the 19th round of the 1982 Major League Baseball draft and made his major league debut at the age of 19 on April 4, 1984. He made an immediate impact, compiling a 1011 record and a 3.48 ERA. The Royals made the postseason but lost to the Detroit Tigers. Saberhagen pitched well in his first postseason start, giving up two runs in eight innings.

In 1985, the 21-year-old Saberhagen established himself as the ace of the staff. He went 206 with a 2.87 ERA and won the American League Cy Young Award. He led the Royals to a World Series championship and was named MVP of the World Series, pitching two complete games, including a shutout in Game 7. He was also the subject of much media attention during the Series as his wife gave birth to his first son, Drew William, on the same night of the infamous Don Denkinger call.

Saberhagen developed an odd pattern of successful seasons in odd-numbered years (1985, 1987, 1989, 1991) and poor performances in even-numbered years. In 1986, he was 712 with a 4.12 ERA. In 1987, another odd-numbered year, Saberhagen had an excellent year, going 1810 with a 3.36 ERA. That record, however, was disappointing because Saberhagen had entered the All-Star break with a 153 record and another Cy Young Award seemingly in the bag. He pitched in the 1987 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, but he suffered a shoulder injury that hampered his second-half performance.

In 1988, the pattern continued as Saberhagen went 1416 for the Royals with a 3.80 ERA, the second most losses in the American League. The following year, 1989, he brought back his old brilliance by compiling a record of 236 with a 2.16 ERA, leading both leagues with 12 complete games, and finishing third in strikeouts. Before his July 26, 1989 start against the Boston Red Sox, Saberhagen had a record of 95. Over the next two months, he compiled a record of 141 with four shutouts. Only once in a game over that period did a team score more than two runs. He also led the league in innings pitched, complete games, and strikeout to walk ratio. For his efforts, Saberhagen won his second Cy Young Award as the American League's best pitcher.

Despite a 57 record, Saberhagen was selected to the 1990 American League All-Star team, primarily due to his 1989 performance. He rewarded the selection by being the winning pitcher in the 20 American League triumph. Saberhagen pitched only one game after the all-star break before being shelved for most of the rest of 1990 with an injury.

In 1991, Saberhagen went 138 with a 3.07 ERA. On August 26, he no-hit the Chicago White Sox 7-0 at Royals Stadium; to date, the no-hitter is the last thrown by a Royal.[4]

On December 11, 1991, Saberhagen was traded along with Bill Pecota to the New York Mets in exchange for Kevin McReynolds, Gregg Jefferies, and Keith Miller.

He posted several solid seasons, winning 14 games for the New York Mets in the strike-shortened 1994 season and won 15 games for the Boston Red Sox in 1998. Also in 1994, he had more wins than walks. No other pitcher (as of 2005) pitching more than 150 innings had accomplished this feat since 1919.[5] His stint with the Mets was not without controversy; on July 27, 1993, Saberhagen sprayed bleach into a group of reporters. After admitting his role in this incident, Saberhagen donated one day's pay to charity and apologized to fans and the media.[6]

Bret appeared as himself in the 1994 Brendan Fraser movie The Scout. In the movie, he is hired by former NY Yankee's scout AL Percolo (Albert Brooks) to pitch to Al's phenom prospect Steve Nebraska (Brendan Fraser). Unfortunately for Bret's "character", Steve takes every pitch long.

In 1995 he joined the Colorado Rockies as a much-heralded ace. While the Rockies made the playoffs as the National League Wild Card team, Saberhagen lost his only start, Game 4 of the NLDS when the Rockies were eliminated by the Braves on their way to a World Series win.

Saberhagen didn't pitch at all in 1996 due to injury but attempted a comeback with the Boston Red Sox and went 15-8 and 10-6 in 1998 and 1999. He also won the Sporting News Comeback Player of the Year Award in 1998, and the Tony Conigliaro Award.

After missing the entire 2000 season, Saberhagen attempted a comeback in 2001 but pitched in only three games. He retired at the end of the season.

Post-playing career

In 2005, he was inducted into the Kansas City Royals Hall of Fame.

Saberhagen was eligible for the 2007 ballot for the Baseball Hall of Fame. He stated if he were voted in, he would not attend the ceremony because he believes Pete Rose should be inducted. Saberhagen finished with 7 votes and was not eligible for next year's ballot.

He was a guest on an episode of Married... with Children.

In 2006, he began coaching the Calabasas High School Coyotes Varsity baseball team, in Calabasas, California. He was a primary contributor to the building of a first-class baseball field for the Varsity team there. His younger son Dalton played on the Freshman team at that time and Saberhagen's goal was to coach his son when he moved up to Varsity. However, a constant set of battles with the Las Virgines Unified School District administration—among other reasons—caused him to resign his coaching duties in October 2007. Before the 2008 season, Saberhagen returned as the head coach of the Calabasas varsity team. He currently resides in Thousand Oaks, California.

In October 2017, Saberhagen was evacuated from a Napa hotel due to the Tubbs Fire after attending a charity golf event.[7]

Personal life

Saberhagen's married his high school sweetheart, Janeane Inglett, in 1984. That marriage and a second marriage ended in divorce.[8]

Saberhagen's son, Drew William, played college baseball for the Western Carolina Catamounts and the Pepperdine Waves.[9]

Bret Saberhagen's Hit & Fun

Bret Saberhagen at one time opened and operated a sports entertainment facility featuring Major League-caliber indoor batting cages, pitching mounds, bowling, laser tag, and arcade games. The 30,000-square-foot (2,800 m2) sports center was located at 580 Montauk Highway in West Babylon, New York nearby Saberhagen's Babylon, New York estate. The facility's façade was shaped like Ebbets Field, the storied home of the Brooklyn Dodgers and designed by Steven Ray Fellman of Amityville, New York.

See also


  1. Frey, Jennifer (27 February 1994). "BASEBALL; The Joke's Up for Bret Saberhagen". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
  2. "Still Bringing Heat". CNN. April 2, 2007. Archived from the original on June 4, 2009. Retrieved April 26, 2010.
  3. Martinez, Michael (17 February 1986). "Saberhagen in His Glory". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
  4. "Sports American League (Baseball) Baseball AL West Division Major League Baseball – SI Vault". Archived from the original on May 23, 2009. Retrieved March 13, 2009.
  5. "'Professor Radke' leads by example – MLB – ESPN". June 17, 2005. Retrieved March 13, 2009.
  6. Frey, Jennifer (August 11, 1993). "BASEBALL; Saberhagen Belatedly Admits to Bleach Squirt – The". New York Times. Retrieved March 13, 2009.
  7. "Barry Bonds among athletes who flee "crazy" Wine Country fire scene". SFGate. Retrieved 2017-10-10.
  8. Cohen, Alan. "Bret Saberhagen". Society for American Baseball Research. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
  9. Brewster, Ben (February 16, 2012). "Stinger opener to feature pitching great Saberhagen". West Central Tribune. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
Preceded by
Wilson Álvarez
No-hitter pitcher
August 26, 1991
Succeeded by
Kent Mercker, Mark Wohlers & Alejandro Peña
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