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Picking up The Pieces
Ray Kennedy
August 29, 1983
Detroit's former bullpen ace Kevin Saucier realized this spring that he'd never pitch again—but he's not about to complain
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August 29, 1983

Picking Up The Pieces

Detroit's former bullpen ace Kevin Saucier realized this spring that he'd never pitch again—but he's not about to complain

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That same day Saucier tried to put through a call to Steve Blass, the former All-Star pitcher and World Series hero for the Pittsburgh Pirates whose similar inexplicable loss of control forced him to quit the game in 1974. No matter that Saucier was unable to reach him. Blass still lives in the Pittsburgh area, doing promotional work for a beer distributor and working as a broadcaster, and now as then, having tried everything from psychoanalysis and hypnotism to an ophthalmologist, he has no answers for himself or anyone else. A decade after his first attack of wildness, Blass reports, "I still can't pitch—not even batting practice at my own baseball camp."

The next evening Saucier reported to the Richmond clubhouse for a scheduled workout, but left his equipment in the car. He walked out onto the deserted field. Standing on the mound for several long solitary moments, he scanned the stands, and then told himself, "This is it, the end. There will be no more baseball for Kevin Saucier." He walked off the mound and never looked back.

"I loved baseball; it was my whole life," says Saucier. "But in the end I feared for my own sanity. If I stayed in, I would have driven myself crazy."

Two hours after he arrived home in Pensacola, Saucier donned the uniform of Franco's Lounge and drove himself to Exchange Park to play a slo-pitch softball game. When someone tentatively asked if he would like to pitch, Saucier laughed for the first time in a long while. "Not unless you want somebody to end up with a softball in their ear. Hell, no. I want to go in the outfield and have some fun for a change."

The Sauciers have also had to change their life-style. Unable to meet the payments on their new Buick Regal, they recently sold it for $10,500 and then bought a '68 Mercedes for $5,000. And they have put their ranch home, which they bought two years ago for $95,900, on the market for $116,000. When they find a buyer, they plan to move in with Karen's parents until they can reestablish themselves.

"Welcome to the real world," says Saucier. "Hey, we're scufflin' a little bit. But so what? Everybody keeps asking, 'But what about the money?' Sure, the money was good in baseball, but I'd rather be broke and be happy." He laughs. "They're not going to back that Brink's truck up to my grave."

That's the power of creative relaxation for you. Indeed, the Sauciers have been turning so much stress inside out lately they are fairly crackling with positive energy. Hear Karen: "No doubt about it, Kevin's leaving baseball has been a blessing. We were having problems in our marriage, it's true, and now we're closer than we've ever been. Kevin's definitely a different person. He's calmer and I like him a lot better that way. I'm proud of him, I really am—not only for his career, but for standing up for his own life. In baseball you don't have your own life; they literally own you.

"You know, I always told Kevin, 'When there's no more baseball, that's when you're going to need me the most.' Well, it's happened sooner than I ever expected and I couldn't feel better about us now. We don't want sympathy. We're still young. We've got a lot to look forward to. This isn't the end of anything; it's a new beginning."

And Kevin: "Everybody wants to know what happened, but I guess it will always be a mystery. I do know I made the right decision and there are certainly no regrets. This is not a sad story. I got a look at both sides of the game. I was on the top and I was on the bottom. I feel as if I've gotten out while I was on top. It was me who made the decision; it wasn't somebody else telling me I couldn't do the job anymore. I'll admit it hurt when I quit. I even cried a couple of times about it. But now it's time for me to go on and do something else."

Stephanie, age four, has just the thing. When Karen first told her that "Daddy can't play baseball anymore," she said, "Now Daddy can play football."

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