CHICAGO — Scott Sanderson was a player who not only got the chance to take part in the highest level of baseball close to where he grew up, but he also got to be on a pair of Cubs’ playoff teams.
That was a rare achievement prior to the Wild Card era of Major League Baseball, but it was something that Sanderson pulled off in his career.
It’s one characteristic of the former Cubs and White Sox pitcher that’s being remembered after his death at the age of 62 on Thursday.
The Cubs confirmed his death, holding a tribute to the pitcher before their game against the Pirates Thursday at Wrigley Field.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 11, 2019
After a standout career at Glenbrook North High School, Sanderson moved onto Vanderbilt University, where he was drafted by the Expos in the 1977 MLB Draft. He spent six years in Montreal before joining the Cubs before the 1984 season through a trade.
In his first year for the National League Eastern Division champions, Sanderson went 8-5 with a 3.14 ERA. He stayed with the Cubs for the next six seasons, and in 1989, he helped the Cubs to another division title with an 11-9 record with a 3.94 ERA. Sanderson, Ryne Sandberg and Rick Sutcliffe were the only holdovers from that 1984 team.
Sanderson went to Oakland for the 1990 season before joining the Yankees in 1991, where he made the only All-Star appearance of his career. After stints with the Angels and Giants, Sanderson joined the White Sox in 1994, going 8-4 with a 6.04 ERA in a strike-shortened season.
He would pitch the next two years for the Angels before retiring in 1996. In 19 seasons, he was 163-143 with a 3.84 ERA with seven teams.
Sanderson was later an agent.
“What today’s players owe to Scott is both incalculable and largely unknown to them,” former players’ association chief operating officer Gene Orza said. “It was Scott, more than any other player, whose message to his contemporaries both captured what was at stake in the great strike of 1994 and alerted them to their responsibility: ‘Who among us wants to leave to the players who come after him less than what he received from the players who have come before him?’ Those of us who worked closely with Scott will never forget him. The players he leaves behind never can.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.