Here at FanGraphs, we don’t do a lot of posts where the point is simply to direct you to another article elsewhere on the web. However, that’s exactly what this post is going to do.
Alex Scherzer was one of us. He loved baseball, he got a degree in economics, and he tried to use advanced metrics to help his brother become the best pitcher he could possibly be. On June 21 of last year, Alex Scherzer took his own life.
FanGraphs senior editor Robert Sanchez wrote about it for ESPN The Magazine. They also published it on ESPN.com over the weekend. It’s worth reading. Don’t miss this one.
At night, in moments of anxiousness or hopefulness, Max Scherzer still reaches for his cell phone, wanting to talk to Alex. He’ll find himself in a hotel room, tired after another stunning start for the Detroit Tigers, and wonder what Alex thought of the outing. Or he’ll be at his condominium in Arizona, watching cable news, and think of a question only Alex could answer. All these months later, he can still see his little brother. Tall, handsome, with that goofy smile.
Alex, too, would reach for the phone whenever he had something to tell Max. He’d peck out a message, if only to let his brother know he was thinking about him. Back in September 2011, Max had struggled through a few starts. After one outing, in which he gave up several bloop hits, Max wondered what he’d done to deserve such bad luck. Alex typed a brief message: “If there’s anything I’ve taught you, it’s that #1 [s—] happens, #2 the non-scientific meaning is that you’ve now banked your juju for the playoffs.”
Max hasn’t deleted that text or the hundreds of others from Alex. He’ll never remove his brother’s number from his call list. In that phone are their lives together, moments precious now because they can never be recaptured. Publicly Max rarely discusses Alex. The 28-year-old says so little about his brother that his parents, Brad and Jan, worry about him, and how he’s coping. Max simply tells them that he wants to focus on his starts, knowing that a solid outing will give his parents a brief reprieve from their grief.
But at night he doesn’t stay so mentally vigilant, and if only for a second, when he needs the comfort, he tricks himself into thinking Alex is there, has a phone in his hands, is ready to talk one more time.