The tall six foot one right hander was drafted out of high school by the Kansas City Royals in the 19th round of the 1982 draft. He was brought up quickly & made his debut in 1984. He went 10-11 with a 3.48 ERA in his rookie year, showing great promise for the future on a good Royals team.
In the 1985 season, the Royals won the World Series & Bret Saberhagen was outstanding. He won the A.L. Cy Young Award going 20-6 (second most wins in the AL) with a 2.87 ERA (third in the league) pitching ten complete games (8th in the AL) with one shut out, 158 strikeouts (9th in the AL) & just 38 walks. He had the best walks per nine innings & strike out to walk ratios in the league.
Post Season: In the ALCS, he earned two no decisions against the Toronto Blue Jays posting an ERA of 6.14 allowing five runs on twelve hits in seven innings of work.
He then shined in the World Series earning the MVP honors to finish off his fantastic season. He pitched a complete game, one run six hitter against the St. Louis Cardinals in Game #3. He then returned for a complete game five hit shutout in Game #7 at Kansas City in the Royals 11-0 victory.
In the Series he allowed only one run, one walk, on eleven hits, in 18 innings of work with two complete games.
Bret was famous for having a great year followed by an average to poor season following it. In 1986 he fell to 7-12 with a 4.15 ERA almost two runs higher than the previous year. But he rebounded in 1987 going 18-10 (4th most wins in the AL) with a 3.37 ERA, striking out 163 batters with 53 walks (a career high) in 257 innings pitched (9th in the AL). He made the All Star team but then suffered a shoulder injury which limited his second half.
In 1988 he had a down year going 14-16 but followed with another Cy Young Award season in 1989. He was 9-5 in July of 1989 but went on to an incredible 14-1 finish. He led the league in wins going 20-6, he led the AL in ERA (2.16) complete games (12) and innings pitched (261) as well.
In 1990 injuries limited him to just twenty games, going only 5-9 but he still made the All Star team. In 1991 he was 13-8 with a 3.07 ERA & seven complete games (6th in the AL). On August 26th he pitched a no hitter at Royals Stadium against the Chicago White Sox, the last Royals no hitter to date.
In the offseason he came to the New York Mets along with Bill Pecota in a block buster trade in exchange for Kevin McReynolds, Greg Jefferies &; Keith Miller.
In New York he joined a pitching staff of Dwight Gooden, Sid Fernandez & David Cone. They all were at the end or down points of their careers, and the Mets finished in fifth place 72-90. Saberhagen debuted pitching the second game of the season, but was beat up for seven earned runs on hits in a 9-2 loss at St. Louis. He lost his next start as well, another seven run debacle in just 4.2 innings pitched. On April 29th he earned his first Mets win, a beautiful three hit shutout, with nine strike outs against the Houston Astros at Shea Stadium.
In May he went 2-0 before suffering an injury on May 15th putting him out for two months. He made a brief three game comeback before missing another month of action. Overall his first season in New York was a huge disappointment, he was 3-5 with a 3.50 ERA pitching only 17 games.
1993 was no better, he pitched in only 19 games going 7-7. He began that season beating the Colorado Rockies pitching eight innings of one run baseball at Shea Stadium. He was 2-0 before losing three straight games to finish off April.
In May he tossed a three hitter against the Florida Marlins, striking out eight batters in a 1-0 Mets victory beating Ryan Bowen in the pitcher's duel. Sabs struggled from there losing four straight games but then turned around to win four straight decisions before injuries got him again. He bested his record to 7-7 after two straight wins where he pitched into the 8th inning, beating the Marlins at home & the Expos in Montreal.
Drama: Those wacky early nineties Mets were bad on the field & couldn’t win many games, but they sure pulled some stupid stunts off the field. Sabs joined that bandwagon when he sprayed bleach into a crowd of reporters after a loss that season.
Saberhagen apologized to the fans & medi for the stupid action. He then donated one day's pay to a various charity. With that behind him, and a bad name after two poor seasons in New York, he rebounded to have his best Mets season in the strike shortened 1994 campaign.
In the fifth game of the season, he threw a five hit complete game against the Astros in Houston. After a 3-1 April, he tossed a one run five hit, complete game in St. Louis to beat the Cradinals to start out May to put him at 4-1. By the end of June he was 7-4 and then was spectacular until the season ended in mid August. Sabs won seven straight games, pitching eight innings or better five times. In three of those outing he didn't allow an earned run, he pitched two complete games, including a seven hit shutout in St. Louis on July 25th.
He may have went on to have another Cy Young season at that rate, going 14-4 on the year with (third most wins in the NL). He was second in the league in ERA (2.74) third in innings (177) & fourth in complete games (4).
That season he became the first pitcher since 1919 to have more wins (14) than walks allowed (13) while pitching in 150 innings or more. His walks per nine innings 0.6 was the best in baseball as were his strike outs to walks ratio (11.00) the third time he had topped the league in that category. That year he made the All Star team representing the Mets, was third in the Cy Young voting & received votes for the MVP Award as well.
In 1995 he had a rough start not winning his first game until the end of May. He won four straight games in late May finishing the month with a complete game ten hit, three run victory performance against the Florida Marlins on June 28th. It would be his last Mets victory, as Sabs lost his next three decisions and was traded at the end of July.
In his last outing he pitched eight inning so f three hit shutout baseball against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Shea Stadium. Saberhagen was 5-5 with a 3.16 ERA in 16 games for the Mets that season when he was traded to the Colorado Rockies for Juan Acevedo & Arnold Gooch. In his four year Mets career, he was 29-21 with 388 strikeouts, just 77 walks & a 3.16 ERA in 76 appearances.
He was 2-1 in Colorado as the Rockies went to the post season that year. Sabs lost to the Atlanta Braves in the NLDS & then signed as a free agent with the Boston Red Sox the following season.
In 1998 he revived his career winning 15 games (15-8) behind Pedro Martinez (19 wins) & Tim Wakefield (17 wins) on a good Red Sox pitching staff. He posted a 3.96 ERA with 100 strikeouts & 33 walks in 33 games, 175 innings pitched.
In the ALDS he lost Game #3 to Charles Nagy & the Cleveland Indians. He won ten games the next year going 10-6 with a 2.95 ERA in Boston getting to another post season. He lost a game in each round of the post season as Boston was eliminated in the ALCS.
He did not pitch at the big league level in 2000 but returned to finish his career in three games (2-1) in 2001.
Lifetime in his 16 year career he was 167-117 (194th most wins all time) with a 3.34 ERA, 1715 strikeouts (126th all time) 471 walks, 16 shut outs & 76 complete games in 2562 innings pitched (227th all time) in 399 games. His 371 starts are 168th most all time. He earned two Cy Young Awards & made three All Star teams. His 1.6 walks per nine innings are 35th best all time & his strike outs to walks ration 18th best all time.
Retirement: After his playing days he was a high school baseball coach, & then a technical director for the Dennis Miller Radio Show in 2007. He produced the sound bites and operated the mixing board there.
At one time he owned Bret Saberhagen’s Hit & Fun sports center in West Babylon, New York out on Long Island. The facility was shaped like Brooklyn's legendary ballpark- Ebbets Field.
Family: Bret & his first wife Jeanine have three children & divorced in 1991. While in New York, he married Long Island's own Lynne Critelli, who was a singer in the local bands Pajama Party & Full House. Pajama Party had released an album in 1989 called Up All Night. Lynn also helped run their Sports complex in West Babylon.
In their time together, the couple were famous for turning their big front yard into a Haunted House every Halloween.
While married, Brett made Lynn quit singing while she was singing in the Long Island band Full House. But the two soon divorced, and Lynn took up singing once again. She now sings with the band The Mystic.