Cubs getting a 'gamer' in Sveum
Cubs radio announcer Pat Hughes didn't hesitate when asked what he remembered about Dale Sveum as a baseball player.
"A gamer," said Hughes, a broadcaster for the Milwaukee Brewers when Sveum played for the Brewers. "A quiet, professional, steady performer. I saw the biggest moment of his life, his game-winning 2-run homer at County Stadium on Easter Sunday 1987, which gave the ballclub 12 straight wins to start the season."
Sveum on Thursday became the 52nd manager of the Cubs, winning out in a six-man derby that also included Terry Francona, Mike Maddux, Pete Mackanin, Sandy Alomar Jr. and DeMarlo Hale.
The Cubs will introduce Sveum to the public Friday morning during a Wrigley Field news conference.
Sveum, who turns 48 on Nov. 23, had been the hitting coach for the Brewers. He also has strong ties to the new Cubs management. Sveum was a coach for the Boston Red Sox in 2004-05 when Cubs president Theo Epstein was general manager there.
In addition to being a hitting coach, Sveum also has worked in the big leagues as a third-base coach and bench coach. He also served as interim manager of the Brewers in 2008, taking over from Ned Yost in September and leading Milwaukee into the postseason for the first time since 1982.
"I think it definitely whet the appetite a little bit because I think we definitely all want to do things, but when you're thrown in the fire, you don't know if it's the right thing for you," Sveum said Nov. 7 after his first job interview with the Cubs. "You know it's something you wanted to do. Once I got to manage that year, those 12 days and the four days of the playoffs, it was something where I felt I was right at home and very comfortable doing."
Sveum was an infielder who hit 25 home runs and drove in 97 runs in 1987 for the Brewers. That impressed Hughes.
"What I remember was, as a No. 9 hitter, he drove in (97) runs," Hughes said. "He was hitting ninth in the order and had (97) RBI. I don't know if that's ever happened, before or since."
In 1988, Sveum suffered a horrific injury when he collided with teammate Darryl Hamilton, breaking his left leg and missing the 1989 season.
"His career would have been and could have been something very special," Hughes said. "That cut short what could have been a very prosperous career. He hung on out of sheer will and determination and rehabilitation to get back to the big leagues.
"But, boy, he hung on, loved the game. Very smart, very quiet. Not a real rah-rah, outgoing guy, but quiet and thoughtful. Once you talk to him, you realize there's a lot there, a lot of intelligence. And he came up when Robin Yount and Paul Molitor and Jim Gantner were in their primes. That was a great environment for him to learn the game."
After the collision, Sveum spent much time on the bench learning the game.
"If there's one thing I've done in this game over all my years is pay attention, and I've got to learn this game from a lot of people and a lot of good managers," he said during his media session this month. "I think I bring a lot to the table as far as my personality and the way I treat people and the way I handle players."
Sveum does have a Chicago connection. He played 40 games for the White Sox in 1992. He also played for the Phillies, Athletics, Mariners, Yankees and Pirates.
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