In 2007, Sogard was a major factor in helping Arizona State win their first Pacific-10 Conference regular season title since 2000. And many opposing coaches and some scouts gave Eric the highest praise a modern-day Sun Devil can get, comparing him to Dustin Pedroia.
In high school, Eric accumulated a 3.8 GPA on his way to earning a partial academic scholarship to college. "But I'm not like a crazy bookworm or anything," he says.
- In 2007, the Padres drafted Sogard (see Transactions below).
In 2009, Baseball America rated Sogard as the 17th-best prospect in the Padres organization.
In the spring of 2011, Eric was the #21 prospect in the A's organization. And he was at #22 in the winter before 2012 spring camp opened
Sogard prefers to wear glasses instead of contact lenses, citing better vision. But that didn't stop his Oakland teammates from jokingly calling him Harry Potter and, during rookie hazing on the final flight to Seattle in September 2010, presenting him with a wizard's costume to wear out of the clubhouse.
Eric is a fan favorite, and is known as "Face" in the A's clubhouse. He stands out for the way he connects with fans.
Whenever Sogard steps to the plate, fans greet him with their salutatory "rally specs," their tribute to the signature trait of a player who sometimes looks more like a grad student than a Major Leaguer. Others hold up giant cardboard cutouts of his glasses. #NERDPOWER has become the official Twitter repository for Sogard love, all of which is fine by him.
Eric started wearing glasses at 15, and they never seemed to bother him. They're also his safest bet.
"I've tried contacts, but I just don't see as well with them," he says. "I thought about LASIK, but if anything goes wrong, my career is over."
Eric doesn't have flashy tools, but he is a baseball rat. He dedicated himself to improving his defense in the winters before both the 2010 and 2011 spring trainings.
"I got into a good workout program at Fischer Sports (in Tempe, Ariz.)," Sogard said. "That really helped my first-step quickness, and I really feel like it's helped my defense, helped my range. And, I've cut down my angles to the ball."
- The Sogard boys are 14 months apart. Eric and brother Alex were raised in Phoenix, they were teammates in Little League, travel ball, high school, and on a summer team in Bend, Oregon. So they never faced each other in a game. The closest they came: Alex (Oregon State) warming up in the bullpen when Eric (Arizona State) came to bat. Alex didn't get the call.
Sogard's younger brother (by 14 months), Alex, used to pitch in the Astros organization. (Editor's note: Alex never made the Majors. But in 2018, he was named head coach at Wright State University in Ohio.)
The boys' Dad, Rudy, was also a collegiate ballplayer. In 1975, Rudy set the home run record for DePauw University in Indiana while playing third base.
In 1988, Rudy was diagnosed with leukemia and given a 15 percent chance to live, but he overcame the odds. However, during a blood transfusion, he contracted hepatitis C, which continues to severely compromise his liver. Ever since, Rudy hasn't been able to work a full day and needs to sleep 11 hours each night just to have the energy for a few active hours.
- In September 2012, Eric pitched for the Czech Republic in the qualifying tournament of the World Baseball Classic.
In his mind, Sogard is more like a heart than anything else. Out of sight, but always working. The typically low-profile second baseman was anything but anonymous in the spring of 2014. His fans and teammates have made sure of that, transforming the relatively unknown player into an Internet sensation and the face of the A's.
Sogard's sprint to stardom began when fans surprisingly voted him as the A's nominee for MLB Network's 2014 "The Face of MLB" competition, a Twitter-driven bracket-style tournament pitting one player from each club against each other. Sogard, the most unlikely entrant into the contest given his limited big league résumé, has since blown past his first three opponents. He garnered 57 percent of the vote to defeat Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo before receiving a whopping 69 percent to top Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. Then he defeated Giants catcher Buster Posey to win a spot in the semifinals.
Often drawing inspiration from Sogard's trademark glasses and the "Nerd Power" movement that grew out of the spectacles, A's players and fans alike have taken social media sites by storm with clever words of support, and even more clever superimposed pictures of the 27-year-old in famous pop-culture film posters and scenes to promote their man.
"The fans have been absolutely crazy with their support," Sogard said, smiling. "And I appreciate that for sure. We'll see how long I go I guess. I'm having fun with it so might as well take it the whole way."
So just who is this previously unfamiliar character and why are so many people rushing to his side? Well, if you ask anybody who has spent time around Sogard, the answer isn't too tough to figure out.
"He's truly one of my favorites of all-time," said Padres Triple-A manager Pat Murphy, who coached Sogard along with the likes of Dustin Pedroia and Andre Ethier at Arizona State. "He brought the same attitude every day. He was ready every pitch and he was just a winner. I can't say enough about him, I love the kid."
Added A's relief pitcher Jesse Chavez, "It's all about the type of character he has. He lets his talent speak for himself. He just goes out there and plays the game the right way while having fun. I think fans respond to that."
"I think last year, I was able to show the team what I am capable of," Sogard said. "I put a lot of heart and passion into the game and I leave everything on the field so it was important to prove that given the opportunity, I am good enough. It was a confidence booster no doubt."
Whether or not Sogard ends up taking home the "Face of MLB" crown, his future in the game appears bright. And that's not just for a guy who wears glasses. "He's a sneaky phenomenal athlete," Murphy said. "You think about a Craig Counsell or a Willie Bloomquist, and I think Sogy will be around a long time, just like them." (Emerick - mlb.com - 2/24/14)
The beginning of Eric's love for baseball cannot be tied to a standout memory—he has played his whole life. Sogard reflected on his beginnings and said the sport has always been in his family.
"[Our Dad] was always coaching us, up until about college, so he's my main influence," Sogard said. "I remember playing Wiffle ball in the backyard with my Dad and brother, pretending to be Major League players, just going at it and having fun. We actually have a video of it, so it's fun to go back and watch that sometimes."
On a string of nostalgia, Sogard reminisced about his freshman year at Arizona State University and his favorite early baseball memory—a 2005 College World Series game. "It was an elimination game," Sogard said. "Jeff Larish had already hit two homers; [we were] down by one with one out to go. He took the first pitch dead center to tie it up. It was the most emotion I've ever had on the field growing up."
All memories aside, Sogard said his love for baseball has no traceable beginning. "I think it's always been there," Sogard said. "It's been in me as long as I can remember, and it's always been a passion for me." (3/03/14)
Nothing seems to phase Eric. He doesn't react to criticism. "He's like a lukewarm cup of coffee, A's infield coach Mike Gallego says. "He's got the right temperament for any situation. I don't know if he's like the duck that looks calm on top and is paddling like crazy underneath, but he's never shown panic in any situation I've seen him in. If you see him on the street or if you see him in the middle of turning a double play, he's got the same temperament."
May 27, 2014: Score a home run for the nerds. Actually, make that 56. That's how many kids at Franklin Elementary School in Oakland got free eyeglasses, with assistance from baseball's most famous eyeglass wearer, Eric Sogard of the Oakland A's.
Sogard, wearing the horn-rimmed glasses that spawned a "Nerd Power" movement at O.co Coliseum, gave out the new spectacles and told kids how wearing glasses changed his life.
"I couldn't see without them, and I definitely wouldn't be as good a player," he said. "I want kids to know that even if they wear glasses, they can still play sports, get outside, be engaged. They don't have to feel weird."
The kids didn't need much convincing. Most of them have suffered from poor vision for years, but their parents can't afford, or are too swamped working multiple jobs, to arrange eye exams and buy frames.
The result is that the kids can't see the blackboard or have trouble reading, and fall behind. (Carolyn Jones - San Francisco Chronicle - May 29, 2014)
Sogard's wife, Kaycee, runs a personal blog, which she says is a personal space to share everything that inspires her and general musings of her life. She puts a lot of work into the blog and lovingly tends to it whenever an idea strikes (which is often).
After his first big contract, Eric's biggest splurge was a beagle puppy he and his girlfriend (now wife), Kaycee, bought at the mall for $1,700.
As well as blogs and dogs, the couple married in 2011 and currently have two kids, Saydee and Knix. (SBNation - Feb 16, 2016)
When he was growing up, Sogard's father was a stockbroker. He brought the Sogard kids up with the right ideas about saving and investing, which Eric still holds onto today. He uses his #Nerdpower to help people out with tips on saving money. (SBNation - Feb 16, 2016)
2020 Season: When the Brewers brought back Eric Sogard last winter on a one-year, $4.5 million deal with a $4.5 million option for a second year, their infield situation looked a bit different than it does now.
When the agreement was made on December 18th, the Brewers were just a few weeks removed from acquiring Luis Urias from San Diego, but it was no guarantee that Urias would be on the big league roster to start the 2020 season after playing just 71 games in the majors in 2019. Orlando Arcia was also coming off one of the worst offensive seasons in recorded history.
The Brewers needed some insurance up the middle, and Sogard was at least a known quantity to the Brewers’ front office — he’ll rarely make mistakes defensively, even if the arm isn’t great, and he’ll draw walks at the top of the lineup — with the added hope that he had found some gap power after leaving Milwaukee.
That power, predictably, turned out to be a mirage thanks to the Super Bouncy Ball of 2019, as he collected all of 6 extra-base hits in 128 plate appearances in 2020. For awhile, his ability to get on base by other means at least meant he was making outs less frequently than a lot of other Brewers in the lackluster lineup, but eventually those dried up, too.
That left Sogard virtually unplayable down the stretch, especially as Arcia proved to be one of the more consistent bats in the lineup and the Brewers opted to see what they had in Urias instead. He saw his playing time reduced dramatically in September, only making 3 starts that month before the final week of the season, when he started in 5 of the team’s last 8 games.
He ended the year with a.209/.281/.278 batting line, adding up to a .560 OPS, which was the 9th-worst OPS in the majors for anyone who got at least 120 plate appearances (only slightly better than Omar Narvaez, who rounded out the bottom 10 with a .562 OPS).
His average exit velocity of 84.4 mph was nearly 4 mph below Major League average, and ranked in the bottom 3% of the league. With no reason to fear pitching him in the zone, he saw a lot more pitches there — which he just wasn’t able to do anything with. He also struggled mightily with breaking pitches, going just 1-for-23 against them. (Jaymes L@JaymesL - Oct 28, 2020)
- June 2007: Eric was the Padres second round pick, out of Arizona State, signing with scout Dave Lottsfeldt for a bonus of $400,000.
January 16, 2010: The A's sent OF Scott Hairston and OF Aaron Cunningham to the Padres, acquiring Sogard and 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff.
October 8, 2016: A's outrighted Eric Sogard off the 40-man roster, the 30-year-old infielder elected to become a free agent rather than accept an assignment to Triple-A Nashville.
Dec 15, 2016: The Brewers signed free agent Sogard.
Oct 26, 2017: Sogard signed a one-year, $2.4 million contract to return to Milwaukee for 2018.
July 10, 2018; Eric was released by the Brewers.
July 27, 2018: The Brewers signed free agent Sogard.
Sept. 1, 2018: The Brewers released Sogard.
Dec 1, 2018: The Blue Jays organization signed free agent Eric.
July 28, 2019: The Blue Jays traded infielder/outfielder Eric Sogard to the Rays.
Oct 31, 2019: Sogard chose free agency.
Dec. 18, 2019: The Brewers agreed to a one-year, $4.5 million deal with a club option for 2021 with Eric Sogard.
- Oct 30, 2020: Eric chose free agency.