Scott Sanderson, 19-Season Major League Pitcher and Former Chicago Cub
Scott Sanderson, professional baseball player, player agent and speaker, passed away on April 11th at his home in Lake Forest, Illinois with family at his side. “Scott fought an incredibly hard battle, never complaining or conceding to the circumstances he faced,” his wife Cathleen said. “His perseverance propelled him to fight hard, but his faith assured him that no matter what, it would be okay because heaven awaited.”
Scott grew up the youngest of 5 children in Northbrook and attended Glenbrook North High School where he led the baseball team to a state championship in 1974. In an interview a few years ago Scott said, “Just the mention of growing up in Northbrook and playing sports there brings a smile to my face. It was so much fun… it probably was the greatest town in the US to grow up in. It certainly was for me. We had great sports, I had great friends, the school was fantastic, everyone got along.” He went on to Vanderbilt University and was drafted by the Expos in the 1977 MLB draft.
Scott’s major league career debuted with the Montreal Expos on August 6, 1978, after a very short 28-game ride with the team’s farm club. He started for 6 seasons with the Expos then was traded to the Chicago Cubs in December 1983, where he pitched through the 1989 season. He was part of the beloved 1984 Cubs and helped the team win two division championships during his years with the organization.
“Scott was a great teammate, always there for us and always had our backs,” said Joe Girardi, former Manager of the New York Yankees and catcher for the Chicago Cubs. “He was a real man of integrity who not only was an incredible pitcher and fierce competitor, but a great mentor who taught us and guided us through the most important game of all – the game of life.”
After 6 years with the Cubs, Sanderson joined the Oakland Athletics, New York Yankees, California Angels, San Francisco Giants, and Chicago White Sox. His last major league appearance was with the Angels in 1996. Overall, he won 163 games for 7 teams, at one point becoming one of only a handful of pitchers to defeat every major league team. He was named to the 1991 All-Star team and also played in the World Series with Oakland. Cubs Manager Joe Maddon, who knew Scott well from his time with the Angels, commented during a pre-game media conference that, “Scotty was such a good guy. He was really thoughtful, kind. Oh man, just a wonderful man.” Former major league catcher Eddie Taubensee said, “I don’t think we have ever met someone who has competed at such a high level for so many years and walked so humbly in his faith in Christ.”
Scott was passionate about the game of baseball, which led to a long tenure on the board of the Players’ Association. He wanted to be a part of an enduring, amicable relationship between players and management. He became involved in the business side of the game, serving as a Player Representative as well as an Associate on the Licensing Committee. Elected as a member of the Executive Subcommittee, which negotiates the Collective Bargaining Agreement, he was an integral member of that team during the strike of 1994. Former Players’ Association Chief Operating Officer Gene Orza said recently, “What today’s players owe to Scott is both incalculable and largely unknown to them. 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 saying, ‘Who among us wants to leave 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.”
Scott’s love of the game and commitment to its players led him to become an agent after retiring from baseball, partnering with Moye Sports Associates to represent many athletes including Lance Berkman, Jaime Garcia, Josh Hamilton, Tommy Hunter and Jim Johnson. “Scott Sanderson was a giant both on and off the field, not just because he was 6-foot-5,” said Mike Moye. “He was a giant because so many people looked up to him for how he lived his life – full of unswerving integrity, deep faith, relentless commitment, and profound respect for others. It’s why he was such a good negotiator and relator of people. I will miss his partnership and friendship so much.”
Many of Scott’s friends, when asked what they loved best about such a well-known sports figure, said it had nothing to do with his baseball career and everything to do with always making faith, family, and friends his highest priorities. “Scott was an individual of immense capability, credibility, and compassion, engaging with people in a way that favorably changed their life trajectories,” said Mark Neaman, long-time friend and retired
CEO of NorthShore University Health System. “He motivated thousands of people to think about what impact they were making in their own homes, churches and communities. He wanted people to know that they mattered and what they did mattered.”
Apart from the many recognitions Scott earned for his exceptional baseball talents, his passion for athleticism also included water-skiing and competitive golf. He appreciated anything that he could enjoy with his friends and family, always being the first one up with the car packed, the boat loaded, or the waffle iron ready to go for his family or Saturday Men’s Bible Study buddies. A long-time member of Conway Farms Golf Club, Scott played in many celebrity and charity golf tournaments, raising money for great causes while playing a game that he loved.
In his inspiring motivational talks and testimonies, Scott never wavered from focusing on what made his life so rich and full. It wasn’t the cheering crowds, championships, or chance to play almost two decades in the Major Leagues; it was his abiding faith, a family he adored, and friends that made life rich. To him, a life lived for others was a life well-lived.
Scott is survived by his wife, Cathleen and his children Patrick (fiancée Alison Conway) and Erica (Axel) Anderson. Also surviving him are his mother Jane, sisters Miriam Simons, Carolyn (late Hank) Lass, and Leslie (Stephen) Harris, brother John (Hazel), his nephew Matthew (Katie) Cavanaugh who was like a son to him, and granddaughter Collette Cavanaugh Anderson, as well as many beloved Sanderson and Cavanaugh extended family.
A visitation will take place on Monday, April 22 from 3-8 p.m. at Christ Church Lake Forest, 100 N. Waukegan Road, Lake Forest, Illinois. A service to celebrate his life will be held on Tuesday, April 23 at 11 a.m. at the same location. In Scott’s honor, donations can be sent to: Pro Athletes Outreach, 640 Plaza Drive, Suite 110, Highlands Ranch CO 80129 or
Unlimited Potential, Inc. P.O. Box 1355, Warsaw IN 46581.