A Tribute to Steve Karsay: MLB Pitcher and Warrior

Thursday November 3, 2011

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:  In the world of baseball journalism, it is very important for one to separate the roles of writer/commentator/analyst from fandom.  For those of us that write about the great game of baseball, it is the majority of the time for the pure love of the sport.  We love every aspect of baseball and while the job requires long hours and a great deal of hard work, it is all worth it because the work centers around a dear passion for all of us.  Each piece we prepare though rarely contains a personal vested interest.  We write about a subject.  We discuss the different aspects of the topic and will usually include our own viewpoints.  But when the subject matter contains an emotional attachment, it can make the experience that much more rewarding.

As the Lead Baseball Columnist for MLB reports, I have had the privilege and honor of interviewing many of the game’s up and coming prospects and stars.  When I found out though my latest interviewee, I have to admit that I had some goosebumps.  Steve Karsay is a name that is well-known in baseball circles.  A veteran of eleven major league seasons, Steve played for five major league teams between 1993-2006.  Growing up in Toronto, I knew Steve early on in his career as a 1st round pick (22nd overall) in the 1990 draft.  At 6’3″ and 210 lbs, Steve coming up was labelled a “can’t miss” prospect.  I will admit that I followed his career from his debut with the A’s and later retiring with the same Oakland squad.  In between, Steve suffered through a variety of injuries and surgeries, including Tommy John in 1996.  The reason that I rooted for Steve Karsay was his resiliancy.  The man overcame great adversities and was able to transform himself into a successful major league pitcher.  I respect players with ability and heart- and you will be hard pressed to find anyone that can match those qualities as found in Steve Karsay.

Any discussion on Steve Karsay has to begin with the start of his career.  Despite being drafted by the Jays, Steve actually made his major league debut with the Oakland Athletics.  As part of the Jays 2nd World Series run in 1993, Toronto traded Steve Karsay with Jose Herrera for hall-of-fame outfielder, Rickey Henderson.  Getting traded for a player with Henderson’s pedigree before even throwing a major league pitch has to be a nice complement.  If nothing else, it will always be a story that Steve will be able to share with his grandchildren.  With great expectations on him, Steve was not able to deliver on the promise of stardom as an A’s starter.  Injuries never allowed him to get on track and Karsay moved from the A’s to the Indians as a reliever.  In his first full healthy season as a reliever in 1999, Karsay flourished in Cleveland.  He finished that year with a 10-2 record, 2.97 ERA and 1.284 WHIP.  The following year, Karsay saved a career high 20 games for the Indians.  Karsay continued to flourish, excelling for the Braves in the 2001 postseason and for the Yankees in the 2002 season.

Shoulder surgery in 2003 set Steve back another season.  He came back to play part seasons from 2004-2006, when he finally called it a career.  Karsay left the game with solid major league numbers and a resume to be proud of.   When I think of Steve Karsay, I will always think “what could have been”.  What if injuries and surgeries had not been a part of his career.  Could we have seen a 300 game winner in Oakland?  Or perhaps a 300 save closer as his role evolved?  We will never know what paths Steve Karsay’s career could have taken, had his body allowed him to fulfill his potential.  But considering the battles and adversities he faced, Steve Karsay can look back on his career with pride.  Countless pitchers with fewer injuries over the years never made it to the show to even throw a major league pitch.  Rather than enjoy the occasional cup of coffee, Steve Karsay was able to battle through and enjoy a lengthy and productive career.  Watching him in his prime, he was as solid of a major league reliever as I have seen in my time.

Coming up on MLB reports, we will hear from Steve Karsay directly.  I recently interviewed Steve and covered many topics with him, including his career, the Rickey trade and his baseball future.  It was a pleasure to speak with Steve and hear what he had to say.  If you enjoy baseball discussions, stay tuned for my exclusive interview with Steve Karsay.

Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports:  You can follow Jonathan on Twitter (@JHacohen)

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About Jonathan Hacohen

I practice daily yoga. Most foods are organic. If you catch me in the supermarket, it will be in the produce aisle. Warrior 1 Yoga was born from my wish to help people be healthy and happy. I preach the 4 key's to life: nutrition, exercise, water and sleep. This is my journey - I am hope to meet you along the way to share a similar path!

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