BRET SABERHAGEN is heading for the mound once again, with a familiar fire in his eyes as he looks toward the outfield. "Hey, how in the hell is he going to throw you out from leftfield," he screams at a base runner who had held up at third. "This is where we're screwing up." Even at practice the two-time Cy Young winner is as competitive as ever, coaching the Calabasas (Calif.) High baseball team. "There are times," Saberhagen said later, "I wish I could go out there and do it for them."
Saberhagen, 42, began at Calabasas as an assistant shortly after he retired from Boston in August 2001; he stepped up to head coach in 2005. Back then his older son, Drew, pitched for the team. (He's now a sophomore at Western Carolina.) Saberhagen's other son, Dalton, is now on Calabasas's freshman team.
Saberhagen, who takes no pay, giving his stipend to his assistant coaches, does more than instruct. "I pick the coaches, set the schedule, maintain the fields, order uniforms, balls, pitching machines," says the 16-year major league veteran, who before a recent practice rode a John Deere mower around the outfield to check the sprinkler systems. "You name it, I do it."
Saberhagen, who was the 1985 World Series MVP with Kansas City, mostly keeps his achievements to himself, but during a team party at his house last summer players couldn't help notice his hardware. "We saw this wall with all these trophies and Cy Youngs," says Greg Waxler, a senior pitcher. "It was so cool. Sometimes he'll be coaching and say something like, 'When I was playing with George Brett....'"
Saberhagen warmly recalls throwing a no-hitter in the Los Angeles city championship game while at Cleveland High in Reseda. This year's team, 5--4 after two losing seasons, is moving in that direction, he hopes. "It was a dream come true," he says of his high school glory. "I want these kids to experience that."
STEPHEN WANDZURA (SABERHAGEN COACHING)
ROYAL TREATMENT Saberhagen sometimes imparts lessons from his K.C. glory days.
DAVID LIAM KYLE (SABERHAGEN PITCHING)
[See caption above]