The greatest moment in baseball’s career was played by Kevin Saussure of Pensacola, a belated celebration.
Horses need to pass.
Yes, this has already happened.
Saucier was in the Philadelphia Phillies Bullpen, relaxed in case he was needed, when fellow Phillies loyal Tug McGraw scored the final in Game 6 of the 1980 World Championships at the team’s former Veterans Field. McGraw had just handed the first World Championship in Phillies history.
“Knowing how crazy those Velez fans are, you had all these horses with the police and saw them all coming,” Saussure, a 1974 graduate of Escambia High School, said, laughing at the memory. We’re in the mall, we had to wait for the police horses to go to the square before we could get out.”
“That’s why a lot of us weren’t in the initial rally on Bowler Hill. I can remember running around and thinking, ‘Hey, how am I going to get around on all these horses to get to my teammates!” Oh man, that was a thing, but it was a feeling no Believe “.
The memory and joy of that night on October 21, 1980 will be shared and cherished on Sunday when Saucier, part of the Pensacola Blue Wahoos gameday team, joins his fellow Phillies 1980 on the field to be honored for this historic achievement.
His teammates will include baseball legend Pete Rose, 81, who will make his Phillies debut since he was banned from Major League Baseball in August 1989, after realizing he placed bets on matches, including while coaching the Cincinnati Reds during 1985-87. .
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The reunion will include two of the Phillies players from this team – third baseman Mike Schmidt and left-footed pitcher Steve Carlton, who have since been honored in the National Baseball Hall of Fame among the greatest sports.
“It’s going to be very special,” said Saussure, who has risen from youth baseball in Pensacola to the top of the sport. “I wouldn’t say it will be the same feeling I had when we won it, but I think it will be very soon. He brought all my former teammates together and I know a lot of them are just as excited as me.”
Sunday’s event is part of the Toyota Phillies Alumni Alumni’s four-day weekend at Citizens Bank Park, Phillies’ main stadium since 2004. On Friday night, Saucier and his colleagues from 1980 will be guests of Phillies owner John S. Middleton at his home.
On Saturday, two players from that team, defensive linebacker Beck McBride and loyalist Ron Reed, will be honored on the Phillies of Fame wall as his 1980 teammates join in. McBride was the 1974 NBA Most Valuable Rookie. He hit 0.299 in 1,071 games over the course of 11 seasons.
Reed is first among Phillies relievers of all time (54) and innings (763), and second in hits (519) of all time among Phillies relievers.
“Covid pushed it back in 2020, I thought they would do it last year, but I think it was too late to plan by the time the season was announced,” said Saucier, who works in every home of the Blue Wahoos. As a liaison with professional baseball scouts who work on the games and mingle with season ticket holders.
“I know we’re going to be announced separately. I’ll be more curious to see how Phillies fans react to Pete (Rose). I don’t know, I think they’re going crazy. I’m so glad he’s going to be there. In my opinion, he was one of the greatest players in the game and should be to be in the Hall of Fame.”
Saucier will be joined by his wife Cindy. The couple have been married for 12 years.
“I told her, ‘You’ll see something you haven’t seen before,'” he said.
Unfortunately, there will be a void with Tug McGraw, who died in 2004. His son, Tim McGraw, became one of the most famous country music singers in history.
“I know when everyone now hears the name McGraw, they naturally think of Tim. But I have to tell you, Tug McGraw was one heck of a pitcher. I think even people in baseball forget how good he was.”
“He was a great bowler. When he got off the handicap list in August of that year, he picked up the load. He was amazing.”
Saucier, 65, has completed an astonishing rise from young age to world champion. He’s one of the famous Pensacola athletes, a baseball star of yesteryear, who has gone from that community to the highest stage in the sport.
Saucier, nicknamed “Hot Sauce” for his sometimes versatile temperament, had his best season in MLB in 1980, going 7-3 as a mean loyalist. The Phillies held the Montreal Show last weekend to win the division title, then beat the Houston Astros in the decisive fifth game of the 1980 National League Championship Series. Four of those games were decided in additional innings.
He appeared twice in the NLCS, then comfortably made in Game 4 of the World Championship. During the World Championships, Saucier made a daily diary for the Pensacola News Journal. He called the PNJ office each night to give his thoughts on the day and the match.
He said, “I loved him.” “This team we had was great, of course, but it wasn’t easy to achieve. We were really tested all the way through. When we won it, I remember thinking, ‘Hey, I’m one of 25 (players) in the best team in the world’ “There have been a lot of great players in baseball who have never won a world championship.”
Saucier (pronounced So-Shay) grew up from humble beginnings, playing in youth baseball leagues in Myrtle Grove and Warrington. He graduated from Escambia High in 1974, having helped lead the school to the state championships in 1972 and his senior year.
He was selected in the second round by Phillies in the 1974 draft. At age 17, he was in the minor leagues, making his debut that summer with Pulaski (Virginia) Phillies in the former Appalachian League. Saucier then rose through every level of Minor League Baseball to make his MLB debut with the Phillies in 1978.
He played five seasons in the major leagues, before a shoulder injury was bad enough to end his career in 1982 while with the Detroit Tigers. Then he went to professional baseball scouts. He rose to become the Regional Director of the MLB Scout Bureau.
Now that he’s retired, Saucier cherished his new role working with professional scouts attending the Blue Wahoos Games, passing on information about the Pensacola community and being a Blue Wahoos Goodwill Ambassador.
The weekend meet in Philadelphia will be the first time Saucier has been back in the Phillies game in a while. He has remained in close contact with Will, his 1980 teammate, Dickie Knowles. The two attended a game many years ago at Citizens Bank Park.
The night the Velez won the world championship, Saussure remembers the party all night long. He moved from the club to the home of superstar Greg Lozinski.
“The bull (his nickname) wanted to continue,” said Saussure, laughing. “We stayed there until the next morning, and then went back downtown for the show.”
The Phillies of that year opted for a spot show the next morning with a stop at the former John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia that could seat more than 100,000 people—still a small portion of the crowds on the parade route.
“I think they said over two million people attended our parade,” Saussure said. “It was more people than I have ever seen in my life. You can imagine how amazing these fans are.”
He knows the reaction will be good on Sunday, too.
Bill Vilona is a retired sports columnist for the Pensacola News Journal and is now a senior writer for the Pensacola Blue Wahoos. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kevin Souseer’s profile
Boy: August 9, 1956
Play height and weight: 6-1, 190
High school: Escambia, 1974 graduate.
MLB Project: Second round 1974
Junior League debut: 1974 Pulaski (Virginia) Phillies Rocky League
MLB debut: October 1, 1978 vs. Pittsburgh Pirates (age 22)
Latest MLB game: July 25, 1982, Detroit Tigers
MLB Era: 3.31.
MLB Status: 94 hits, 19 saves, 203.2 runs