ML: I guess growing up in California with all that good weather is conducive to baseball. Did you start playing the sport early in your life?
CS: "I did. I guess I started when I was about six or seven, it wasn't organized, just play. I started in Little League when I was eight. My Dad started me off with the sport. He was a pitcher in the Milwaukee Braves organization for three years until he hurt his arm. The Braves signed him out of high school and when he got hurt, my Mom was pregnant with me so he felt he had to go out and find a real job. Baseball runs in our family."
ML: Who did you root for as a kid?
CS: "I grew up about forty miles north of Dodger Stadium so I rooted for them. When I was a kid they had guys like Steve Garvey, Ron Cey, Reggie Smith and Dusty Baker. They had a real good team."
ML: You obviously had talent for the game and signed to play college ball at Brigham Young. Is it true that in your first game, who hit three home runs in your first three at bats?
CS: "That's true. It happened against UNLV. It was a situation where it was one of those days, the ball looked big as a beach ball and it was the old saying, see the ball, hit the ball." (Author's Note: Snyder was first team All- America in his junior year batting .450 with 27 home runs and 85 RBI's. Among his teammates with the Cougars were Wally Joyner, Rick Aguilera and former Sox pitcher Scott Nielsen.)
ML: You also played on the first U.S. Olympic Baseball team that took the silver medal in 1984. Some of your teammates were Mark McGwire and Will Clark. What was that experience like?
CS: "That was great. I played nine years in the Major Leagues but that was probably the highlight of my career. Getting to know those guys, traveling around the country and then playing in the Olympics right near where I grew up in Los Angeles was terrific. We lost to Japan for the gold medal. I also had a memorable moment at old Comiskey Park. We played a series of exhibition games around the country before the Olympics, and when we at Comiskey, I hit a home run over the roof. Later that same night when the Sox were playing, Ron Kittle blasted a roof shot. I still kid him about that."
ML: You got called up to the majors in June 1986 and in only half a season hit twenty-four home runs. Was it hard to make the adjustment to big league pitching?
CS: "Like in college, at first for me it was just see the ball, hit the ball, but there is a learning curve in the pro's. Pitching then was better overall and they remembered what they got you out on. I had to eventually adjust. Also it's a different atmosphere. I remember the first Spring Training I was at it, it was overwhelming. But the second Spring Training I realized that these are just other guys. That I had a job to do. I thought it was a good situation for me. It was fun."
ML: After almost five years in Cleveland you were traded to the Sox, a team on the rise. What was your reaction to the deal?
CS: "I was sad at first. I enjoyed my time in Cleveland. I made a lot of friends and enjoyed the city. I wanted to stay, to give back something to the community. Cleveland though at that time was different. It seemed like whenever a guy hit his fifth season he was traded. It happened to Julio Franco, Joe Carter, Brett Butler. I guess that's when I started to realize that baseball is a game, but it's also a business. My agent is the guy who called me to tell me what happened."
ML: I know you and Sox fans were hoping that you'd take over right field but it just didn't happen. You struggled mightily. Looking back do you have any idea why that took place. I mean you were an established big league hitter by then.
CS: "The problem was with the Sox hitting instructor, Walt Hriniak. Walt was a great guy, he worked very hard everyday but he wanted to try to change everybody to hit a certain way...head down, off the front foot, drive the ball up the middle. I wasn't used to that. It was an unnatural swing for me. I was a power guy who had some strikeouts but I drove in runs, I wasn't a line drive hitter. The Sox organization expected me to work with him. He was a lot different from Charlie Lau. Basically it was Walt's way or the highway. The other thing that really hurt was my relationship with Jeff Torborg (Author's Note: Then Sox manager) I had a good Spring Training and Jeff told me that I was the starting right fielder and at times, depending on the pitcher, I'd be moved to left field. I'd be playing everyday though. So Opening Day comes, we're in Baltimore and Sammy Sosa hits two home runs. I got a couple of hits as well. Almost overnight then, I'm told I can't hit right handers and am only going to play part time. I needed to get my at bats, I needed to play through the slumps that happen during a long season. So now I'm coming off the bench and many fans don't understand, but that's the toughest job in baseball. You've got to come in cold and try to hit the other teams closer. The only guy I ever played with who could do that, was Dave Hansen. I didn't want to complain, I always tried to play hard and do my job and I tried very hard. I'd take extra batting practice everyday, play anywhere the Sox wanted me to but finally in Cleveland before a game I had it out with Walt. I told him I can't hit like he wants me to. I was hitting .175 and it's the middle of the year. I just can't do it. A week later I was traded. I've never been with any club where the hitting instructor had that kind of power."
ML: If you look back at the video from those days, it seemed the guys who did really well with that style were the smaller players, guys like Scott Fletcher, Ozzie Guillen and Craig Grebeck.
CS: "Right. Even Robin Ventura didn't really hit Hriniak's way. It looked like he did, but he was making contact on his back foot, not his front foot. Sammy Sosa couldn't do it either. The first year Tim Raines was with the Sox he had a lot of trouble with it. It was an embarrassing spot for me. The other guys on the team, Kittle, Carlton Fisk, Ron Karkovice they didn't know what to say to me. I busted my tail every day but it just wasn't working out. When they traded me, I was glad. I knew I wasn't going anywhere in Chicago."
ML: I know you consider yourself fortunate to play nine years but do you also feel unlucky. I mean you were with bad teams in Cleveland, and then you finally get a chance to go to a good team, as team that would win the division in 1993 but you weren't a part of it.
CS: "I felt like that. 1991 was just awful, it's one of those years I try to forget. I was with San Francisco in 1992. They gave me a chance. I started to get my confidence back with Toronto, but I didn't play much because they were in a pennant race. I had another good spring with the Giants and went 3-4 for them on Opening Day in 92 and played all over for them that season. I wanted to go back with them in 93, but this was the time they were talking about moving to Tampa. That caused a lot of instability. The Dodgers made me a two year offer and I called the Giants to let them know that because they gave me a shot, I'd be loyal to them if they'd just match what Los Angeles offered. Because they didn't know where they were going to play they couldn't. I signed with the Dodgers and played the outfield. I had a good season. In 94 I was told I was going to play third base and that was fine. Then right before the season opener they signed Tim Wallach and I was back on the bench. The strike came, I had a few children by them and thought it was time to leave.
ML: Let me ask you about two great players who've also had their share of controversy in Chicago. First off, Sammy Sosa. He's a tremendous power guy, but many fans feel he's selfish, that what he does is contrived and that a lot of his home runs are meaningless because the Cubs can't win. What was he like to play with?
CS: "Sammy was a young guy when I was with the Sox. He was trying to establish himself, he was really talented. I liked him, he was a good kid and he always played hard. I respected that. He dived for balls in the outfield. He's done a lot for the Cubs. I'd want him on my team. I think a lot of what some people say about him is because they are jealous of what he's done."
ML: How about the best player ever in Sox history, Frank Thomas? An incredible talent but a guy who fans and even some teammates have said is totally for himself and that he could care less about the team.
CS: "I've heard he's become like that. I don't know why that's happened to him. I know that when I played with him, he always busted his tail. He's was funny, got along with the guys. His holdout last spring really bothered me because he wasn't like that. Nobody likes to lose and maybe that's the problem."
ML: What do you do now?
CS: "I have a baseball facility in the area. I run camps in the Summer and also give private instructions to the kids in the area. I've got six children and one of my boys is now playing, so I coach a kids team as well. I really enjoy that, the teaching end of the game. I also got a call from former Major Leaguer Darrell Evans and I'm going to be participating in some weekend fantasy camps. We're having one in Toledo in mid August, and Darrell thought it would be nice having a former Indian on hand. We're going to start having a number of them in minor league parks around the country. It's also a possibility that I might get into coaching as a hitting instructor in the minor leagues. I'd enjoy giving back to the game and trying to help some of the kids on their way up to the big leagues."