Former big leaguer Sanderson now models Christ as player agent
Wednesday, Apr 30, 2008
By Joshua Cooley
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (BP)--You’d think a longtime major league pitcher – especially one who made millions of dollars as a 19-year veteran, former All-Star and member of multiple playoff teams – would kick back and relax for awhile after retiring. Maybe travel to exotic locations or buy a mansion and sip daiquiris by the pool.
Scott Sanderson spent 19 years in Major League Baseball as a pitcher before becoming an agent.
Not Scott Sanderson.
“I took three weeks off after my last game and then started representing players,” he said. “I knew later in my career that this is what I wanted to do.”
Sanderson, 51, is currently a partner at Moye Sports Associates, which is based out of Suwanee, Ga., although Sanderson works out of his home in Lake Forest, Ill. He met MSA president Mike Moye during his playing career when both men were on the board of directors of Professional Athletes Outreach, a Christian ministry.
“I knew for the last six years that when I finished playing, I wanted to represent players,” Sanderson said. “It seemed like there were so few former players doing it. As much as there’s a need for legal help and advice, it didn’t seem like there was a great wealth of baseball advice.”
That’s a subject on which Sanderson is an expert. After three stellar years at Vanderbilt University, the Dearborn, Mich., native was selected by the Montreal Expos in the third round of the 1977 draft. A year later, Sanderson broke into the major leagues and put together a solid career that lasted until 1996.
The 6-foot-5 right-hander won 15 games three times, earned an All-Star selection in 1991 and finished with a 163-143 record, a 3.84 ERA and 1,611 strikeouts with seven different teams. Control was his calling card: He allowed only 625 bases on balls in his career, an impressive average of 32.9 per year.
Despite his prowess and longevity, Sanderson always seemed to be undercard to the main event wherever he pitched. He typically toiled in the shadows of more luminous stars like Greg Maddux, Rick Sutcliffe, Dave Stewart, Bob Welch, Jack McDowell and Chuck Finley.
The notable exception was his All-Star season, when he went 16-10 with a 3.81 ERA as the clear-cut ace for a moribund New York Yankees team (71-91 record). He was selected by that year’s American League All-Star skipper Tony La Russa, for whom he had played the year before in Oakland.
“It was an extremely gratifying reward,” Sanderson said. “After years of hard work, there was some real gratification from being on that team.”
Sanderson played for some of the best teams of his generation, including the 1984 and ’89 Chicago Cubs, the ’94 Chicago White Sox and the ’90 Oakland Athletics – all of which won their respective divisions. Yet none of the teams for whom Sanderson played ever won a World Series. The 1990 A’s, heavily favored in that year’s Fall Classic after winning 103 games in the regular season and sweeping the Boston Red Sox in the American League Championship Series, were shocked by the Cincinnati Reds, 4-0, in the best-of-seven series.
“That’s a real luxury I had: great teams and really great players – Hall of Fame players – and I got to watch them go about their careers,” Sanderson said. “It’s not an overstatement to say I had an unbelievable experience to live out a boyhood dream. It’s the kind of thing you dream about.”
Becoming a sports agent was a natural progression after his playing days ended. For 14 years, he served as a player’s union representative and contributed to three different collective bargaining agreements.
Sanderson and Moye represent mostly baseball players – including stars like Boston ace Josh Beckett, Houston first baseman Lance Berkman and Colorado first baseman Todd Helton – although the firm also counts Detroit Lions quarterback Jon Kitna and U.S. Olympic sprinter Allyson Felix among its clients.
In a profession where materialism and avarice are prevalent, Sanderson said he and Moye consider their job an opportunity to model Christ. And with his vast first-hand knowledge, Sanderson relishes the opportunity to counsel his clients in a broad range of issues like handling success and failure on the field, dealing with a difficult manager and playing through injuries.
“There’s a lot of teaching that goes on, whether we mean it or not,” Sanderson said. “It’s great to have a baseball ministry.”
Sanderson grew up in a churchgoing home, but it wasn’t until his freshman year at Vanderbilt that he trusted in Christ for salvation. When two of his senior teammates invited him to attend a Fellowship of Christian Athletes meeting, he jumped at the chance.
“I’m the youngest of five children. I’m not impulsive,” he said. “I don’t react quickly to things I don’t investigate. I did some investigative journalism and found out that the claims Jesus Christ made were correct. Shortly thereafter, I asked Christ to come into my life.”
He is also involved in Unlimited Potential Inc., a baseball ministry that shares the gospel through clinics and Bible studies worldwide. He and his wife Cathleen, who have been married for 28 years, have a son in college and a daughter in high school.
It’s an exciting time for Sanderson, even if the thrill of taking the mound every fifth day is now a distant memory.
“God blessed me to stay in baseball and have such a wonderful opportunity with Mike to mentor players,” he said. “It’s a great joy to watch these players mature as men and players with their families. It’s a neat opportunity to take faith into the workplace.”
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