The Tragic Arm Injury That Ended Tony Saunders Baseball Career

Tony Saunders had a short MLB career. The left-handed pitcher only spent three seasons in the league and pitched for two teams.

Saunders did have success during his short career and became a World Series champion. But an injury forced him to retire from baseball.

Tony Saunders faced a lot of adversity to get to the MLB

Saunders was not a big-time player coming out of high school, but he was someone who worked hard. He went undrafted out of high school, and many MLB teams told him that he was not good enough to make a team. But Saunders did not give up on his dream of making it to the MLB. In 1993, he signed with the Florida Marlins, who were an expansion team. Saunders struggled during his time in the minor leagues, but he made his MLB debut with the team in 1997 at the age of 23.

He appeared in 22 games and made 21 starts, finishing with a 4-6 record with a 4.61 ERA. Saunders proved many people who doubted him wrong and made his dream come true. In his first season, he got the opportunity to pitch in the World Series. The Marlins took on the Cleveland Indians in the 1997 World Series. He started Game 4 and threw two innings giving up six earned runs on seven hits. Saunders took the loss that game as the Indians won 10-3.

But the Marlins went on to win the series 4-3 to win the World Series title. Saunders could call himself a World Series champion after his first MLB season, something that not too many players could do.

Tony Saunders joining the Tampa Bay Devil Rays after winning a World Series

Tony Saunders
Tony Saunders joined the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 1998.

After winning a World Series title with the Marlins, Saunders joined another expansion team. The Devil Rays selected Saunders with the first overall pick in the 1998 expansion draft. Saunders saw a lot more action in his second season with the Devil Rays. He pitched and started in 31 games finishing with a 6-15 record with a 4.12 ERA.

In his first two seasons, he compiled a 10-21 record on the mound, but he continued to work hard each season. During his third season in the MLB, Saunders returned to the Devil Rays and looked forward to having a better season than he had in previous years.

One pitch ended Tony Saunders MLB career

Saunders returned to the starting rotation for the Devil Rays during the 1999 season. He made nine starts on the mound during the start of the season and had a 3-3 record at the time with a 6.43 ERA. In a start in May of 1999 against the Texas Rangers, Saunders was on the mound getting ready to deliver a pitch when tragedy struck.

When the ball went out of his hand, Saunders screamed as the pitch sailed away from the catcher, and Saunders was in pain. Saunders was carted off the field because the pain was too much for him. He ended up fracturing his left arm and sustained torn ligaments, forcing him to miss the remainder of the 1999 season. The next year, Saunders was on a rehab assignment when he broke his arm again, forcing him to retire from baseball. Saunders worked hard to make the MLB, and his career was cut short due to a devastating injury.