Seated in the dugout for a pregame interview in May of 1994, Bryan Eversgerd gazed out at the field in Busch Stadium and smiled. He was still pinching himself at the reality of not just having made his Major League debut, but doing so with his hometown St. Louis Cardinals.
Now nearly 30 years later, those same feelings have returned for the Clinton County, IL native.
“It does compare,” said Eversgerd. “It’s just as special the second time, I think…it’s tough to get there as a player and it’s tough to stay and it’s tough to get there as a coach and it’s tough to stay. Getting the news, I was just as excited this time as I was the last time, to be honest with you. Understanding the 15 years as a coach in the organization, to get a chance to go up there and be the bullpen coach, I’m completely honored and excited.”
Unlike when he was a rookie, Eversgerd wasn’t called into his manager’s office to get the news he was headed to the big leagues. This time, St. Louis Cardinals General Manager Michael Girsch called him with the news.
“I think the time from the interview to the phone call I got from Girsch seemed like a long time,” laughed Eversgerd. “My wife said ‘you’re not sleeping’–it’s just one of those things. I thought the interview went fairly well and I had hoped that it did. When I got the news, I was obviously pretty excited.”
Being an in-house candidate, the interview process with Eversgerd began before the team hired Mike Maddux as their pitching coach, but Bryan has already spoken with and is more than happy for the reunion with his former teammate.
The two pitchers were in Spring Training together with the Boston Red Sox in 1996.
“He was kind of like a Waino in our camp,” compared Eversgerd. “He just lead by example and he worked really hard. He was always there to talk or to listen. For me, I had not been with Boston–was traded over there the winter before, so I really didn’t know anybody over there so it was great. He was a big help to me that spring.”
Maddux was in the process of moving during their recent conversation, but Evergserd shared the two will get together down the line and probably stay up all night talking baseball. Both them bring big league experience to the table, but modern analytics are also part of their offering.
“More and more the TrackMan has been a huge tool for me,” said Eversgerd. “There are things that we can’t really see just watching a guy throw, but the numbers in those charts don’t lie.
Sorting through all of the information–release heights, where guys stand on the rubber, how far they’re releasing the ball to the left or the right, are just examples of what Eversgerd dissects to provide for the individual needs of each pitcher.
“If there’s something I see with a naked eye just watching a guy, we might talk about it right then,” explained Eversgerd. “But if it’s something that I think I see, I’m not going to bring it up to him unless I have something to back it up with. So I’ll go check the Trackman or look at the heat maps if he’s throwing one pitch in a certain area all of the time or if it’s not throwing enough strikes too far off or whatever it is. I’ll go look it up, then once I have it in front of me, I’ll approach them and say take a look at this and tell me what you think. A lot of the kids now are visual learners, so if you can show them something as far as something on a piece of paper or computer screen, sometimes it helps them learn things faster.”
And after spending the last five years as the pitching coach in Memphis (AAA) and before that with Springfield (AA), Bryan Eversgerd is grateful and excited to help with the learning process back in St. Louis.
“I’m just ecstatic to be back in the big leagues–especially with my team,” shared Eversgerd. “I’ve been a fan and a Cardinal my whole life, so it’s extra special to get back to the big leagues with them for sure.”
photo credit: Brian Stull/STLBaseballWeekly.com; Allison Rhoades/Memphis Redbirds