Junior shortstop Nick Sogard has been an impactful player on LMU’s baseball team since his freshman year, when he started in 20 games. Since then, Sogard has been a staple in LMU’s lineup, starting 53 of 55 games his sophomore year and all 23 of the Lions’ games so far this spring.
While most people know of his success on the field, not many know how deep the game of baseball is ingrained in his family history. Sogard is fortunate enough to have professional baseball players on each side of his family. His mother has two brothers who played in the major leagues and his father has two nephews who played professionally.
Many Los Angeles Dodgers fans might recognize the names of Sogard’s uncles on his mother’s side: Steve and Dave Sax, who played together with the Los Angeles Dodgers in the ‘80s.
Steve played 14 seasons in the big leagues from 1981-1994 as a second baseman, splitting his time between the Dodgers, Yankees, White Sox and Athletics organizations. He was a five-time All-Star, won the World Series twice, won the Rookie of the Year Award in 1982 and a Silver Slugger award in 1986.
Dave was a catcher who played parts of six seasons in the majors between the Dodgers and Red Sox from 1982-1987.
On his father’s side, Sogard’s cousins also spent time in the major leagues. Alex Sogard played six seasons in the minor leagues with the Houston Astros and Arizona Diamondbacks organizations before retiring in 2015. Alex was named the head coach of the Wright State University baseball team in July 2018, taking over a program with three NCAA tournament appearances in the last five years.
Eric Sogard is currently in the Toronto Blue Jays spring training camp, trying to win a roster spot, but was a fan favorite for the Oakland Athletics during their 2013 and 2014 postseason appearances. Eric has appeared in a total of 584 games at the major league level so far, and has managed to find himself on a major league roster almost every year since 2010 due to his versatility and ability to put the ball in play.
While some would think that having a family with ties to baseball would put pressure on Sogard to succeed, he says that all motivation has come directly from himself.
“As far as living around the game, I wouldn’t say that affects my drive to play,” he said. “I’m driven to play as well as I can and push myself to be the best player I can be because it’s something that I’m passionate about. I wouldn’t say my drive to play comes from anywhere except from myself.”
While Sogard makes it clear that his family hasn’t placed any unwanted pressure on him to play baseball, he acknowledged the benefits that have come with their careers.
“My dad and I were always throwing the ball around the house or in the backyard,” he said. “Baseball was always on TV as well. We all love it as a family, so it’s definitely a big part of our lives. I’ve definitely learned a lot from being around so many people that have had success playing this game ... And to get some quality information from people that do it at a high level has definitely helped me be a better player.”
Sogard appears to have taken whatever advice his family has given him as he continues to improve every year at the plate. This season, Sogard’s .315 batting average is tied for first on the team, his on-base percentage of .407 is the second-best on the team and his slugging percentage is third-best on the team at .370. Sogard’s 10 stolen bases also rank first in the WCC. Despite the shortstop’s achievements on the field, one will be hard pressed to find him boasting about his achievements.
In fact, when asked about his personal success on the field this season, Sogard immediately responded by speaking of the team’s success this season as a whole, a testament to his character and his status as a leader on the team.
“We’ve been playing well. We’re always looking for ways to improve, but I think we’re going be a tough group that’s going be able to win a lot of games going forward,” he said.
Through the first half of his junior season, Sogard has already tied his career high in doubles with five. Sogard is also only one stolen base away from matching last year’s total, with 29 games still left to play.
Furthermore, he was named to the preseason all-conference team by Perfect Game, a prestigious online baseball magazine and is still managing to exceed all expectations.
When asked about why he plays the sport, it was evident that it’s not because of the influence of his family, or the influence of anyone else.
“It’s what I love to do,” he said.
Sogard and the rest of the LMU baseball team will take on the University of Portland on the road in a WCC matchup this weekend, beginning on March 29. Friday’s first pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. and the game will be available to watch on the WCC website.