"I was scared," he says. "Baseball means everything to me. I had one bad year and no one wanted me. But I knew I was still good."
He built a batting cage in the backyard of his home in Laguna Hills, Calif. He had a highlight tape made of his '88 season, when he hit .272 with 26 homers for the Indians. Says Snyder, "Starting on December 1, I got up at nine every morning, popped in the tape for 15 or 20 minutes, then hit for an hour or hour and a half. I didn't do anything the rest of the day, and then just before dark, I hit some more."
San Francisco brought him to spring training as a nonroster invitee. With help from hitting coach Dusty Baker, Snyder found his old swing and learned how to relax. It has been suggested that some of Snyder's difficulties with the bat began when he tried to change his swing at the urging of Walt Hriniak, the White Sox batting coach. Others have hinted that Snyder's father, Jim, who was his Little League coach, was too involved in his son's career, giving him batting tips that ran counter to what Snyder's hitting instructors were telling him. Snyder denies that. He says his father never offered hitting advice after he turned pro in 1985.
"He gave me moral support, he still does," says Snyder. "He loves me. He taught me the game. When I was struggling, my father was struggling with me."
Tiger first baseman Cecil Fielder says he will definitely file for free agency after next season unless the team is sold and the new owners have a "fired-up outlook and might change some things." The club is apparently close to being sold by Domino's Pizza baron Tom Monaghan, who is reportedly in serious negotiations with Mike Hitch, owner of the Little Caesars pizza chain and the Detroit Red Wings....
How bad are the Phillies? They're the only team that has had a losing record at every All-Star break since 1984. This year they had the worst record in the league. Philadelphia infielder Wally Backman is fed up with losing. "I've seen more injuries here than in my entire career," he said. "I've seen some injuries that I don't think are injuries."
...Chalk up another victory for the nearly unbeatable Major League Players Association. It successfully fought the new draft rule that would have bound high school players for five years to the teams that selected them in the June draft—not for just one year, as was previously the case. Arbitrator George Nicolau struck down the rule last week, saying that because teams signing premium free agents lose a draft choice, the owners could not increase the value of draft picks without the consent of the players' union.