World Series Innings with Ed Sprague
By Phil Stanton
are taking a look at Division I head coaches who played in Major
League Baseball’s World Series. Today we talk with Ed Sprague of
Sprague enters his ninth season with the Tigers.
Pacific has reached the 30-win plateau in three of the past six
An All-American at Stanford, Sprague helped the
Cardinal win the 1987 and 1988 national championships. An
All-American in 1988 and a two-time All-Pac-10 selection,
Sprague was inducted into the Stanford Athletic Hall of Fame in
During the summer of 1988, Sprague played for
Team USA and earned a Gold Medal in the Summer Olympics.
Sprague was a first round pick of the Toronto
Blue Jays in the 1988 MLB Draft. He won titles with the Blue
Jays in 1992 and 1993 during his 11-year big league career.
Sprague finished with 152 career home runs and 558 RBI.
Sprague is the only player to win a College World
Series, Olympic Gold Medal and Major League Baseball World
His wife, Kristen Babb Sprague, won an Olympic
Gold Medal in synchronized swimming in 1992.
First Inning - You won World Series titles in
two of your first three seasons in the Major Leagues. Did you
think championships were going to be regular occurrences during
I was fortunate to play on some great teams early
in my career. You always hope that you are going to be in
contention every year with a chance to go to the postseason, but
growing up around the game I knew not to take it for granted. I
just tried to enjoy it as much as possible knowing next year is
Second Inning - You were a regular in 1993
after seeing limited action in 1992. Did that second title mean
more to you?
Each title holds a special place. Even though my
game-winning home run in '92 probably kick started my career and
gave me a chance to be an everyday player, I think playing
everyday in '93 and going through all of the highs and lows of
the season individually and as a team, I think I got a little
more satisfaction out of '93.
Third Inning - Can you describe the feeling in
the dugout and in the stadium when Joe Carter hit the
series-clinching home run in 1993?
I think going into the bottom of the ninth most
guys were probably getting mentally geared up for a Game 7, but
when Rickey [Henderson] walked you could feel the excitement
start to build. After Paul [Molitor] singled, I think we felt we
were going to tie it up. Everyone was rooting for Joe to get a
ball in the gap and when the ball left his bat we thought Molly
can score on that and then boom the ball left the stadium. At
that point it was straight pandemonium.
Inning - Did your experience in the College World Series prepare
you for postseason play in the Major Leagues?
I think so. Rosenblatt had such an electric
atmosphere it was very similar to playing in the postseason. It
didn't have the noise level as say the Metrodome but you had to
learn how to deal with your emotions on a big stage.
Fifth Inning - Your father pitched for eight
seasons in the big leagues, but did not pitch in the postseason.
Did you ever talk with him about playing in October?
My dad certainly had a huge impact on my career
but I can't recall any specific conversations about October
Sixth Inning - Do you look back each October
at those championship runs in Toronto?
I have more recently only because the Blue Jays
have done some reunions honoring the '92 and '93 teams. Everyone
is now retired and it has been fun to reconnect with some of the
guys again. We did a golf tournament a couple of years ago and
when we got on the bus after the tourney to go back to the hotel
it felt like we had just finished up a three-game road sweep and
were headed home. All the players took their same seats and the
banter that went on was like we had never left.
Seventh Inning - Do you think the All-Star
Game should determine home field advantage in the World Series?
I like that they gave some meaning to the All-
Star Game. I am not sure how the players today like it but I do
think it has made it a little more competitive and a lot of the
guys playing in the game have a chance to end up in the World
Series and it's nice to start at home.
Eighth Inning - Do you talk often with your
current players at Pacific about your experiences as a college
and professional player?
I only talk about it if I feel it is a teachable
moment. Generally I talk to them about things I learned from
veterans like Molitor or [Dave] Winfield as I was a young player
that helped me forge a long career. Or sometimes we talk about
what goes on in hitters’ minds, stuff I learned from picking
guys brains like [John] Olerud, [Roberto] Alomar, or Shawn
Ninth Inning - How did fall practice go for
the Tigers and what are your thoughts for the 2012 campaign?
We are still in the middle of our fall practice.
We have a lot of new faces and are excited about the upcoming
season. Our players are working hard on the field, in the weight
room, and in the classroom. I think we have a very competitive
and exciting non-conference schedule that I am confident will
prepare to battle in the always tough Big West Conference.
(photos courtesy of Pacific Media Relations Office)