Sarah Langs

Henry Chadwick Award: Sarah Langs

This article was written by Karl Ravech

This article was published in Spring 2024 Baseball Research Journal

Sarah LangsIt was the night of November 2, 2016. In the city of Chicago and across the country, fans were glued to their television sets and radios. It was Game Seven of the World Series, in Cleveland, where nine innings had been played when it started to rain. The tarp was put on the field, delaying the outcome and giving Cubs fans every reason in the world to think, “It’s happening all over again.” The Cubs and Indians players trudged off the field. The Cubs players were summoned to a small weight room off their clubhouse at Progressive Field. They had just blown a three-run lead in the eighth inning and outfielder Jason Heyward wanted a word with the team. Pessimism was everywhere, except in that weight room.

Meanwhile, just feet beyond the right-field grass, standing in an auxiliary bullpen, unfazed by the weather conditions, was a wide-eyed female baseball researcher working for ESPN. There was nowhere on the planet SARAH LANGS would rather have been. Born and bred to be involved with baseball, she was intimately familiar with Chicago baseball, having attended the prestigious University of Chicago. Sarah had a front-row seat for the history that was about to unfold, and she was not there just to watch but to chronicle the event. At the age of 23, Langs was madly in love with the game and her heart was racing, waiting like the millions of baseball fans to see what would unfold when the raindrops subsided.

Sarah was born on May 2, 1993, to Charles and Liise-anne. Both her parents are doctors and had baseball in their DNA. Charles is a lifelong New York Mets fan, while Liise-anne grew up on the West Coast and rooted religiously for the San Francisco Giants. While growing up in New York City, Sarah had no choice but to be exposed to baseball. It was her choice to fall in love with the game and make a career in it.

Sarah could have been a scout. On her first day of sixth grade, she gave her new teacher, Josh Bacharach, a detailed breakdown of every child in the class, from their homework habits to their attentiveness. But Sarah wanted to write—about baseball. Bacharach encouraged her to follow that dream, and she did so through high school and college where she covered sports for the Chicago Maroon. Bacharach is responsible for launching her into orbit like the many home runs she has written about over the last decade.

Langs is synonymous with her trademark saying—“Baseball is the best”—an all-encompassing maxim highlighting every single aspect of the game while emphasizing the joy Sarah derives from each. With her more than 120,000 followers on X (formerly Twitter), Sarah will share pictures of dogs at the park, players doing great things and players doing silly things, kids with their parents in the stands, women and their ever-increasing roles in baseball—all of them preceded by “Baseball is the best!” Sarah’s love is genuine and infectious. Her followers feel her passion and they are in awe of her eternal optimism. Sarah has ALS, and if you only followed her on social media you would never know it.

Diagnosed in the summer of 2021, ALS has robbed Sarah of her ability to run and walk, but not fly. Her speech is not as clear as it once was, yet she proudly continues to appear on the MLB Network as a baseball analyst. Her social media following is loyal and growing. Sarah is an educator, a historian, and a true fan of the game. Her job is to put into context any current achievement. Very few in the industry have established themselves so quickly. Sarah has done it publicly and gracefully, while fighting a disease with no cure.

During the 2023 World Series, I texted Sarah and asked her if any other player as young as the Texas Rangers’ Evan Carter had started a Game Seven and hit third in the order. She responded within minutes: “at 21 years & 55 days old, Evan Carter is the 2nd-youngest player to start batting third in a Game 7, older than only: 1952 WS G7 Mickey Mantle: 20 y, 353 d. Love a casual ‘one other guy’ and it’s Mantle!!!” For Sarah, every single nugget she uncovers is like striking gold. You can feel her smile when she hits send.

The rain eventually subsided that night in Cleveland. Jason Heyward’s words of wisdom had their desired effect. The Cubs scored two runs in the 10th inning and won the World Series. Sarah was there to see it and has been at every World Series since. Curses be damned. Hopefully soon we will say the same for ALS. Baseball has brought us many miracles and thankfully it has brought us Sarah Langs. 

KARL RAVECH has been covering baseball for ESPN since 1993 and he is the voice of ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball telecast.