On Sunday, the Hall of Fame will induct six members, all of them first-ballot selections, all of them contemporaries. Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas, Tony La Russa, Bobby Cox and Joe Torre took different paths to Cooperstown, but they shared one particular common denominator along the way.
Karsay, now 42, played in the big leagues for 11 years, retiring after the 2006 season. A right-handed pitcher, he went 32-39 with a 4.01 ERA, mostly as a reliever, over the course of that career. Steve Hirdt of the Elias Sports Bureau found that Karsay is the only man to have been a teammate of this year's three player inductees and a player for the three manager inductees. He played with Maddux and Glavine in Atlanta and Thomas in Oakland. He played for La Russa with the A's, Cox with the Braves and Torre with the Yankees.
These days, Karsay is the pitching coach for the Carolina Mudcats in the Carolina League (advanced Class A). And now he is a trivia question.
"And I think," he says with a hearty laugh, "I'm the only one who knows the answer."
Karsay began his connection to this year's Hall of Fame class in 1993 with La Russa's A's.
"I remember being called into Tony's office and meeting with him," Karsay says. "I remember saying, 'Hi, Mr. La Russa. I'm Steve Karsay. I'm here to pitch for you.'
"I have such great respect for him. He is such a great manager, one of the best of all time. He had such a great demeanor with his players. I don't remember being intimidated by him, but I just didn't know any better. I wish I could've pitched for him longer. I learned a lot in a short time."
The next connection came in 2001 when Karsay was traded from the Indians to the Braves for John Rocker, who was dealt away from Atlanta in part for making insensitive remarks about various ethnic groups.
"I joined the Braves at Shea Stadium, and my locker was right in between Maddux's locker and Glavine's locker," Karsay says, chuckling. "I had never met either of those guys, but each one -- I guess they weren't good friends with John Rocker -- said to me, 'We're glad to see you.' It was a nice introduction to the team. It was such an honor to be on the same team as Maddux and Glavine. They were so helpful, even though I only had four months with them. They taught me the importance of preparation, of video work, how to sequence, how to attack hitters. I learned more from them in four months than anyone."
Karsay says of Cox, "Bobby was one of the best managers of all time, also. He just told me to be ready to pitch. It always struck me what an intelligent baseball man he was. He was a players' manager in every way. He treated everyone on the team the same way, from the No. 1 spot on the roster to the No. 25 guy. I also wish I had spent more time with him."
In 2002, Karsay went to Torre's Yankees. He threw 101 innings for them in three seasons.