Warwick Saupold Reconnects With His 12-Year-Old Self

By: Will Burchfield
@burchie_kid

If we change as we grow older, we also stay the same.

When Warwick Saupold was 12 years old, his favorite band was Lifehouse, his favorite food was Shepherd’s pie and he always, always put his left sock on first when getting ready for a baseball game.

Now 27, Saupold no longer jams out to Lifehouse — but he still loves Shepherd’s pie. He’s abandoned his superstitions, although he concedes he might slip on his left sock first, simply out of habit.

A portrait of 12-year-old Warwick can be found in his player profile from the 2002 Cal Ripken World Series, which was held in Mattoon, Ill. He was a catcher and an outfielder for the Australia Dingos. He checked in at about 5’0, 97 pounds — maybe 100 pounds, soaking wet.

Saupold has grown about 14 inches and put on about 90 pounds since the summer of 2002. He’s also made it to the major leagues — not as a position player, but as a pitcher for the Detroit Tigers.

What else has changed? What has stayed the same?

Saupold explains.

Then: His favorite website was sledstorm.com.

Now: “I don’t even know what that is,” he said with a laugh. “But now it’s probably AFL.com.au, which is the Australian Rules Football website.”

Then: His favorite school subject was math and…sports. (Always the best subject.)

Now: “Those are still two of my main interests,” he nodded. (One probably more than the other.)

Then: His favorite foods were Shepherd’s pie, tuna mornay and hamburgers.

Now: “Yeah, pretty similar,” said Saupold. Any additions? “Little bit healthier these days.”

Then: His hobbies were slot car racing, BMX and Sony PlayStation.

Now: “Not so much slot car racing, still play some PlayStation, don’t really ride my BMX bikes anymore,” he said. (A wise decision, Madison Bumgarner might say.) Any additions? “Golf.”

Sports interested in: Soccer, indoor cricket.

Now: “I’m not really a soccer fan anymore. I used to be, but not so much here,” he said. How about the Australian national team and striker Tim Cahill? “He’s kind of become a bench guy, which sucks. But they’ve done okay, I saw they beat Saudi Arabia last night.”

Then: His favorite TV programs were The Simpsons, The Amazing Race and AFL (Australian Rules Football).

Now: “The Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother.” Does he still watch The Simpsons or The Amazing Race? “I haven’t seen ’em for a long time,” he laughed.

Then: His favorite musicians were Lifehouse and Eminem.

Now: Saupold laughed heartily. “Those have definitely changed,” he said. “I’m more like kind of everything right now. Florida Georgia line, still listen to some Goo Goo Dolls and stuff like that. Eminem every once in a while.” What was his favorite Eminem song? “I wouldn’t have a clue.” What would his walk-up song be, if he were a hitter? “It’d be Kid Cudi, Surfing.”

Then: The person from history he most wanted to meet was Babe Ruth. He’d have asked Ruth what it was like to play in his era.

Now: “Oh, I think that’d be great, absolutely,” he said, impressed with his younger self. “For what he did, I’d love to see what he went through and how times have changed.”

Then: His favorite baseball players were John Deeble, Greg Jelks and Jason Hewitt. Jason Hewitt was one of my club coaches back home, he’s still a big influence. Gregg Jelks unfortunately passed away of a heart attack this season, he’s really special to me. And Deebs is a great dude,” Saupold said, whose mom grew up with Deeble, the coach of Australian naitonal team.

Now: “Obviously favorite baseball player now, I mean, a couple of them are in this clubhouse.” Who, exactly? Miggy? J.V.? “They’re all great, it’s just special being in this clubhouse,” he said, shrewdly.

Then: His favorite baseball teams were the South Perth State League (his club team) and the Chicago White Sox. Why the White Sox? “I think it was Frank Thomas. He was a big guy that I enjoyed because I actually had the Frank Thomas Big Hurt Baseball video game. Then I went to Busch Stadium (during the Cal Ripken World Series), so I jumped on the St. Louis bandwagon,” he said.

Now: It goes without saying.

Then: His superstitions were putting his left sock on first and wearing a black catcher’s helmet with his club logo.

Now:  “I have zero superstitious now, I just get ready to go and that’s about it,” said Saupold. When he did stop putting his left sock on first? “I don’t know, I think it was just one of those things that I grew out of. I guess day after day I just kept putting them on different ways. Actually I might do it still, I’m not 100 percent sure. It could still be there.”

Then: He had a pet bird bamed Budgie.

Now: “I have two dogs, Maltese Shih Tzus. Family dogs,” he said.

Then: He listed his famous relatives as Deeble and Jamie Gard. “Gard raced in motor racing,” he said. How is Saupold related to Deeble? “He’s not really a relative, not by blood anyway. I just call him Uncle John because I’ve spent so much time with him and he grew up with my mom. They were like brother and sister, so I just call him Uncle John.”

Now: “I don’t really have any famous relatives,” he said.

Instead, Saupold is the famous relative.

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