Saucier of Pensacola is part of the World Series reunion of the Philadelphia Phillies

The biggest moment of Pensacola native Kevin Saucier’s baseball career had a delayed celebration.

The horses needed to pass.

Yes, that actually happened.

Saucier was in the Philadelphia Phillies bullpen, relaxing in case he was needed, when fellow Phillies reliever Tug McGraw taped the 1980 World Series Game 6 final at the Old Veterans Stadium of the team. McGraw had just delivered the first World Series title in Phillies history.

Pandemonium ensued.

“So knowing how crazy those Phillies fans were going to be, you had all those horses with the police and I saw them all coming,” said Saucier, a 1974 graduate of Escambia High, laughing at the memory. us in the bullpen, we had to wait for the police horses to enter the field before we could get out.”

“That’s why a lot of us weren’t in the initial pileup on the pitcher’s mound. I remember running and thinking, “Hey, how am I going to get around all these horses to join my teammates? Oh man, it was something, but it was an amazing feeling.

The memory and hilarity of that night of October 21, 1980 will be shared and cherished on Sunday when Saucier, part of the Pensacola Blue Wahoos team, joins his 1980 Phillies teammates on the field to be honored for this historic achievement. .

Teammates will include baseball legend Pete Rose, 81, who will make his first appearance at a Phillies game since he was banned from Major League Baseball in August 1989, following an investigation that he placed bets on games, notably while he was manager of the Cincinnati Reds during 1985-87.

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The reunion will include two Phillies players from that team — third baseman Mike Schmidt and left-handed pitcher Steve Carlton, who have since been enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame among the sport’s greatest.

“It’s going to be so special,” said Saucier, who went from youth baseball in Pensacola to the sport’s supreme feat. “I’m not going to say it will be the same feeling I had when we won it, but I think it will be damn close. Rounding up all the old teammates and I know a lot of them are excited like me.

Sunday’s event is part of a four-day Phillies Toyota Alumni Weekend at Citizens Bank Park, the Phillies’ home stadium since 2004. On Friday night, Saucier and his 1980 teammates will be guests of Phillies owner, John S. Middleton, at home.

On Saturday, two players from that team, outfielder Bake McBride and reliever Ron Reed, will be honored on the Phillies Wall of Fame with the arrival of 1980 teammates. McBride was the National League Rookie of the Year in 1974. He hit .299 in 1,071 games for 11 seasons.

Reed is first among Phillies relievers in all-time wins (54) and innings pitched (763), second in strikeouts (519) all-time among Phillies relievers.

“Covid pushed it back to 2020 and I thought they were going to do it last year, but I think it was too late to plan by the time they got the announcement of the start of the season,” he said. said Saucier, who works at every Blue Wahoos home. game as a liaison with professional baseball scouts who work on games and mingle with season ticket holders.

“I know we are going to be announced one at a time. I will be very curious to see how Phillies fans react to Pete (Rose). I don’t know, I think they’ll go crazy. I’m so glad he’s here. In my opinion, he was one of the greatest players in the game and should be in the Hall of Fame.

Saucier will be accompanied by his wife Cindy. The couple have been married for 12 years.

“I told him, you’ll see something you’ve never seen before,” he said.

Sadly, a void will exist with Tug McGraw, who passed away in 2004. His son, Tim McGraw, went on to become one of the most famous country music singers in history.

“I know when everyone hears the name McGraw now, they naturally think of Tim. But I have to tell you, Tug McGraw was one hell of a pitcher. I think even baseball people forget how good he was.

“He was a great pitcher. When he came off the disabled list in August of that year, he took charge. He was amazing.

Saucier, 65, has achieved an incredible rise from childhood to World Series champion. He is another of Pensacola’s famous athletes, a baseball star of yesteryear who rose from that community to the top level of the sport.

Saucier, nicknamed “Hot Sauce” for his sometimes-varied temperament, had his best MLB season in 1980, going 7-3 as a middle reliever. The Phillies held off the Montreal Expos last weekend to win the division title, then defeated the Houston Astros in the deciding Game 5 of the 1980 National League Championship Series. Four of those games were decided in extra innings.

He made two appearances in the NLCS, then pitched in relief in Game 4 of the World Series. During the World Series, Saucier did a daily newspaper for the Pensacola News Journal. He called the NPC’s office every night to give his thoughts on the day and the game.

“I loved it,” he said. “The team we had was great, of course, but it wasn’t easy to come out of it. We were really tested all along. When we won it, I remember thinking, “Hey, I’m one of the 25 (players) in the best team in the world. There have been many great baseball players who have never won a World Series.

Saucier (pronounced So-Shay) grew up from humble beginnings, playing in the Myrtle Grove and Warrington youth baseball leagues. He graduated from Escambia High in 1974, having helped lead the school to state championships in 1972 and his senior year.

He was selected in the second round by the Phillies in the 1974 draft. At age 17, he was in the minor leagues, making his professional debut that summer for the Phillies of Pulaski (Virginia) in the former Appalachian League . Saucier then rose through the ranks of Minor League Baseball to make his MLB debut with the Phillies in 1978.

He played five major league seasons, before a shoulder injury was serious enough to end his career in 1982 while with the Detroit Tigers. He then got into professional baseball scouting. He became regional director of the MLB Office of Scouting.

Now retired, Saucier has cherished his new role working with professional scouts attending Blue Wahoos games, spreading information about the Pensacola community and being a goodwill ambassador for the Blue Wahoos.

This weekend’s meeting in Philadelphia will be the first time Saucier has returned to a Phillies game in quite a while. He has remained in close contact with fellow 1980 team pitcher Dickie Noles. The two attended a game several years ago at Citizens Bank Park.

The night the Phillies won the World Series, Saucier remembers partying all night. He went from the clubhouse to the home of star slugger Greg Luzinski.

“Bull (his nickname) wanted to keep going,” Saucier said with a laugh. “We stayed there until the next morning and then headed back downtown for the parade.”

That year, the Phillies opted for an immediate parade the next morning with a stop at the old John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia which could hold over 100,000 people – still a fraction of the crowd on the parade route. .

“I think they said over 2 million people came to our parade,” Saucier said. “It was more people than I had ever seen in my life. You can imagine how tickled those fans were.

He knows that the reaction will also be good on Sunday.

Bill Vilona is a retired Pensacola News Journal sports columnist and now Senior Writer for Pensacola Blue Wahoos. He can be contacted at bvilona@bluewahoos.com.

File Kevin Saucier

Born: August 9, 1956

Play Height-Weight: 6-1, 190

High school: Escambia, graduate 1974.

MLB Draft: Second round, 1974

Minor league debut: 1974 Pulaski (Virginia) Phillies Rookie League

MLB debut: October 1, 1978 against the Pittsburgh Pirates (age 22)

Last MLB game: July 25, 1982, Detroit Tigers

Registration: 15-11,

MLB ERA: 3.31.

MLB Statistics: 94 strikeouts, 19 saves, 203.2 innings pitched

Posted In MLB

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