An Interview with Dave Bergman

added 10/16/01 by Ray Kerby

Dave Bergman is an Illinois native who tore up the Yankees minor-league system before being traded to the Astros. He later won a World Championship as a member of the 1984 Detroit Tigers. He now lives in Grosse Pointe, Michigan and works with an organization called Grosse Pointe Baseball.

(c) Houston Astros
Ray Kerby: As a child, did you always want to be a ballplayer? What made you want to be a ballplayer? How did you get started?

Dave Bergman: I just enjoyed playing all sports!

RK: Growing up in Illinois, who was your favorite team and players? Why did you like them?

DB: The Cubs - Ron Santo, Ernie Banks, Randy Hundley, Billy Williams, Don Kessinger, and Glenn Beckert. I liked them because they were playing for the Cubs!

RK: What kind of offers did you get from MLB teams out of high school? Why did you choose to attend college at Illinois State instead of turning pro right away?

DB: I was drafted by the Cubs out of High School. It was a tough decision not to sign! I truly felt a college degree was more important. today,even after playing 19 seasons, my degree is more important than I could have ever imagined.

RK: You were an All-American at ISU and are one of the only two players to have your jersey (#12) retired. Did your college experience help you as a pro? How did you react when you were drafted by the New York Yankees?

DB: College allowed me to grow up in a controlled environment! I was thrilled to be drafted by the Yankees.

RK: You were the batting champ and league MVP in each of your first two minor-league seasons. You even stole almost 100 bases in the minors. To what do you attribute this success? Did you approach the game differently when you were in the minors?

DB: It took hard work and perserverance! I always gave 100% and nothing less. I played each and every game to win.

RK: After a very brief stint with the Yankees, you were traded to Houston and made your first appearance as an Astro in 1978. Did you have expectations of getting a shot as the everyday 1B for Houston after Bob Watson was traded in 1979? How did Cesar Cedeno's injury and subsequent move to 1B affect that?

DB: I was told that I would be a utility player. Nothing changed when Cedeno moved to first.

RK: You made your first post-season appearance with the Astros in 1980, recording the final out in the clincher and getting big hits in the playoffs. What memories stand out most about that season and the playoffs?

DB: Hitting the triple, driving in three runs in the playoffs. Jumping into Joe Niekro's arms after the final out against LA in the playoff game. Joe Niekro is today my best friend!

RK: After you played for the Giants a few seasons, something weird happened on March 24, 1984. You were traded twice that day, from the Giants to the Phillies to the Tigers. What was going through your mind that day? Did you know ahead of time that these deals might happen?

DB: I had no idea, but I was glad to be traded to Detroit!

RK: You joined the Tigers just in time for the 1984 season. The Tigers, of course, made an incredible run and won the World Series that season. What was it like playing on such a wildly successful team? What memories about that season stand out the most?

DB: The Tiger team of 1984 had perfect chemistry. On Monday night TV, June 4th, 1984, I hit a three-run home run against Toronto!

RK: During your 17-year career, you played for only four managers, but they were all exceptional. Although you played only briefly with the Yankees, can you describe the differences in style between Billy Martin, Bill Virdon, Frank Robinson, and Sparky Anderson?

DB: Billy Martin - a great manager, not a very good role model. Bill Virdon - a great manager, he taught me discipline and was a great role model. Frank Robinson - a great manager, he really took the time to teach me the game, and was a great role model. Sparky Anderson - a great manager, he taught me how to be a man, and was a great role model.

RK: Who was the toughest pitcher you had to face, and why?

DB: Nolan Ryan - he had great stuff! I really had to have a good game plan when hitting against him. I got my share of hits off of him, but I had to really be cerebral when doing so.

RK: On August 10, 1989, you broke up a Nolan Ryan no-hitter with a one-out single in the ninth inning. What is the mood like in the dugout of a team that's being no-hit? How do you prepare fo a late-inning at-bat in a no-hitter? What was going through your mind when you broke it up?

DB: He was NASTY! In the late innings, I thought he was getting tired. I looked for a breaking ball and I got it! Needless to say, I was happy to get a hit but I was sorry or upset that we lost. Nolan and I were teammates in Houston and he is a Hall of Famer in all regards!

RK: What are some of your fondest memories from your playing days?

DB: 1) Wearing a professional uniform for 19 years! 2) Playing for Bill Virdon, Frank Robinson, and Sparky Anderson. 3) 1984 Detroit Tigers - World Champs!

RK: Your son, Troy, is following in your footsteps as a ballplayer for the Michigan State Spartans. What advice have you given him? What do you think his chances are of reaching the majors someday?

DB: Troy is done with baseball. He played for four years at MSU and had a great experience. He was the Captain of the team and made his Dad and Mom very proud of him by the way he led both on and off the field. He is a great young man and he will be an asset to our great society!

RK: You are now involved with an organization called Grosse Pointe Baseball. What is this organization all about and why are you involved with it?

DB: I help sponsor four teams (15,16,17,18). We teach the players how to play, but most importantly, we try to teach Life Skill Lessons. I am involved because I love working with kids!

RK: Thank you for your time.