BRADENTON -- Dan Simonds first met Chris Sabo roughly 30 years ago.
Sabo was making his way through the minor leagues, and Simonds was at Davidson College.
Eventually, Sabo landed in the majors with the Cincinnati Reds, where he was the National League Rookie of the Year in 1988 and won a world championship in 1990. Simonds became a bullpen catcher for the Chicago Cubs.
"I just used to love going into Cincinnati and talking baseball with him," Simonds said. "It was just tremendous. I learned so much from him. ... What I loved about him was kind of how he approached the game and how important preparation was."
Never miss a local story.
Now the two are reunited at IMG Academy, where Sabo was hired recently as a coach in the baseball program. Simonds is the director.
"He called me this summer and asked me if I had any interest in getting back into the game," Sabo said. "I was thinking about coming to Florida, anyway, because I've been in Cincinnati a long time and getting sick of the cold. So I said, 'Yeah, I'll try. I've never coached high school before.' Pretty much have only done pro."
During his playing career, Sabo was known for his distinctive goggles and a fierce attitude that maximized his baseball talent.
The goggles may be gone, but the attitude about preparation has transferred into his coaching career.
Sabo also played with the Orioles, White Sox and Cardinals before wrapping his playing career in 1996 with the Reds.
He later got involved in coaching and managed the Sarasota Reds when they were a part of the Florida State League.
"I'm pretty laid-back," said Sabo, who hit .563 with a pair of home runs and five RBIs during the Reds' sweep of Oakland A's in the 1990 World Series. "I think baseball's a game where you can't hold their hand. You tell them what your philosophy is, and they have to go out there and do it. ... Sink or swim is my philosophy, and baseball, more than any other sport, is a game of failure. You're going to fail so much. You have to tell these kids to keep going, to keep plugging away, because if you can't handle the failure, you have to find another sport."
Managing professionals is different than coaching high school players, but Sabo said players will get out of the game what they put into it, no matter the level.
"He can teach the skill set," Simonds said. "He can teach the different things, in terms of the mechanics of the swing, fielding ground balls, all those things. He really knows that very well. I think the biggest thing ... what makes him so valuable to us is helping these kids and assisting these kids in the proper way to prepare on a daily basis."
Part of that preparation, Simonds said, is to do the little things that separate a good player from a great player and an average player from a good player.
"That's how he played the game," Simonds said. "He got the most out of his abilities."
Sabo wasn't always destined for IMG's coaching staff. The former four-time NL All-Star turned into a solid golfer following his baseball career and was enjoying retirement when Simonds called him about the job opening.
"I didn't miss it at all," Sabo said. "I was happy playing golf, hanging with the family."
But so far, Sabo has enjoyed his time at IMG and said the facilities are as nice as what he worked with at the old Ed Smith Stadium during his tenure with the Reds' former high Single-A affiliate.