Peter Sauer, a former Shady Side High basketball star and captain at Stanford who helped lead the Cardinal to the 1998 Final Four, has died. He was 35.
The school said yesterday that Sauer died Sunday night in White Plains, N.Y., while playing in an adult league recreational basketball game. The 6-foot-7, 225-pound forward was part of a Stanford team that reached four straight NCAA tournaments under former coach Mike Montgomery.
“Peter was a guy who when he stepped on the court, he always played with a huge heart,” former teammate and current Stanford assistant coach Mark Madsen said. “He was a great shooter and a tough guy, but when he went off the court, his heart and the amount he cared about people was even bigger.”
Stanford’s coaching staff received details that Sauer was shooting free throws after a game, collapsed and hit his head. He couldn’t be revived after 20 minutes by EMTs. He was later pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
Karen Pasquale in the White Plains mayor’s office said Sauer hadn’t complained of not feeling well before collapsing and hitting his head on the concrete. An autopsy was under way, she said.
A four-year letter winner for the Cardinal from 1995-99, Sauer averaged 7.9 points and 4.2 rebounds for his career, including 9.2 points during his junior season. Madsen recalled the guts Sauer showed during the Final Four run by returning from a knee injury to knock down a 3-pointer in the closing seconds of the Cardinal’s 86-85 overtime loss to Kentucky in the NCAA semifinals. Sauer finished with 10 points, seven rebounds and a blocked shot in 22 minutes of that game.
“You wanted the ball in Pete’s hands late in the game,” Madsen said. “He wanted the pressure and to shoot late in the game.”
Montgomery, now coaching at California, called Sauer “the epitome of the definition of a student-athlete. He was smart; he was tough; he was a winner.”
“Peter Sauer was one of the most popular players I have ever coached,” Montgomery said. “He played on a Final Four team and was an integral part of the success of that group. Peter was somebody that his teammates really looked up to and admired. It is tragic that this can happen to a young man in the prime of his life. We are all very saddened with the news. This is very tough news to get. My heart goes out to his family during this difficult time.”
Sauer, who was born in St. Louis on Nov. 9, 1976, earned a degree in economics from Stanford. He came to Pittsburgh when his father, Mark Sauer, was named president of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1991.
Pete Sauer led Shady Side Academy to the PIAA Class AA title in 1995. His younger brother, Alex, was a key member of the school’s 1996 squad, which lost to Shenango High in the WPIAL championship game.
He had worked until recently in investments for Bank of America in New York, where he gave Stanford’s players a tour of his office building during their off day from the NIT this past spring. He also regularly stayed in touch with the program and was planning a reunion for former players during this fall’s USC-Stanford football game, including a flag football game for them to get in on the fun.
“That was Peter,” Madsen said. “He just wanted to get everybody together.”
Sauer is survived by his wife, Amanda, and three children.
“Everyone in the Stanford community is deeply saddened by the passing of Peter Sauer,” coach Johnny Dawkins said. “He was a tremendous individual and a devoted husband and father. He was very passionate about Stanford and our basketball program. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Amanda and their three children.”