“I was told by the player that hit the ball that my father initially said he was OK, but we later found out the aneurysm bursted soon afterward and he never recovered,” said Saggese.
Talk about changing course. Saggese went from having a doting father to realizing he needed to replace his father, somewhat, as a leader in the family.
“We coped by pulling together as a family,” said Saggese.
“I made sure it motivated me to accomplish everything we had visioned together. It pulled my mom and sister closer. I felt I had to step up and be the man of the family and watch over my mom as I continued to stay focused on my dream and goal ... and that was to be the best baseball player I could become.”
Baseball was the engine that brought Saggese closer to his dad than most sons and fathers. Now he was going to have to go it alone, in some respects.
Despite some difficult times, Saggese never wavered. He became one of the best players in south Florida in high school and received a scholarship to play at the University of Miami and later, at Florida International.
But three major injuries to his knees, which started in high school, slowed a career that could have taken him to pro baseball.
His best year was his first at Miami in 1996, averaging.339 with 14 homers and 51 RBI in just 57 games. He also played in National Championship game at the College World Series, losing a ninth inning walk-off homer to LSU, but was named an All-American.
During the summers of 1997 and 1998 summers, Saggese started for the Hyannis Mets in the Cape Cod League and competed against the likes of Eric Hinske and J.J. Putz.
Saggese credits his dad’s presence for his successes and dealing with his struggles.