Thursday, June 12, 2014

June 12, 2005 - Seabol's Only Career HR a Game Winner Over Yankees

The life of a big league ballplayer is rarely as glamorous as most people envision.  For Scott Seabol - a 21-year old infielder who signed with the New York Yankees in the 1996 amateur draft - his life was anything but glamorous.  After toiling in the Yankees system for five years, his shot with the big club finally arrived on April 8, 2001.

The Yankees were hammering the Toronto Blue Jays, 13-5, in the sixth-inning of a game played at Yankee Stadium, when manager Joe Torre decided to give veteran outfielder David Justice the rest of the night off.  With that, Seabol entered the game as a pinch hitter to face the zany Dan Plesac, who retired the kid on a pop fly to the second baseman.

That was the extent of his major league career with New York.

After signing a free agent contract with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2002 - he never made the big club, was released in 2003 - then immediately signed with the Cardinals.  After spending another couple of years kicking around the minors, Seabol got another chance to live the glamorous life of a big league ballplayer in 2005 - at the age of 30.

Seabol appeared in 59 games for Tony LaRussa in 2005 - mostly as a backup infielder - in what would prove to be his final season as a major league player.  The highlight of his very brief career came in a game against his original team - the New York Yankees - on:

Sunday, June 12, 2005 - At Busch Stadium III:  This was the rubber game of a three-game series between the New York Yankees and St Louis Cardinals - two iconic rivals who had faced each other five times between 1926 and 1964 in World Series competition.  Every regular season inter-league game since has been infused with a definite postseason atmosphere - and today was no exception, as 50,372 red-clad fans packed the house, hoping Cards starter Matt Morris could contain the mighty Yankees' lineup.

The Cardinals struck first off Yankees stater Carl Pavano in the third-inning - when Yadier Molina doubled, advanced to third on Morris' sacrifice bunt, and scored on David Eckstein's single.  That would be the only run Pavano would allow in his six innings of work.

New York tied the game in the fifth-inning, on a two-out Alex Rodriguez RBI double - scoring former Cardinal Tony Womak from first.  For Morris, that too, would be the only run he'd allow in six innings of work.

With Alberto Reyes now pitching for St Louis, Derek Jeter began the Yankees' seventh with a double, but remained at second as Reyes retired the next two batters.  LaRussa then summoned lefty Ray King out of the bullpen to face the dangerous Hideki Matsui - who promptly drove in the run with a single to right.

With Tanyon Sturtze now pitching for the Yankees - trying to preserve a one-run lead in the bottom of the seventh- the Cardinals got something started, with a one-out single by Molina - his second hit of the game.

LaRussa then sent Scott Seabol in to pinch hit for Ray King - who was currently on the hook for a possible loss.  Instead, the former-Yankee draftee hit the first - and only - home run of his major league career - putting King (1-1) - who completed one-third of an inning of work - suddenly in a position to win the game.

In Seabol's childhood fantasies, maybe this home run took place in the Seventh Game of the World Series, to win it for his team.  Yet, as he circled the bases with more than 50,000 fans going crazy on this Sunday afternoon in St Louis, this had to be the next best thing.

Later in the inning, Jim Edmonds added a two-out two-run double off reliever Mike Stanton to pad the Redbirds' lead to 5-2 - which shrunk to 5-3 in the New York eighth-inning, after Jorge Posada's solo home run off Julian Tavarez.

But that was the old ball game.  Jason Isringhausen retired the Yankees in order in the ninth, to earn his 18th save, and make Scott Seabol a bit of a hero in Cardinal Nation, for at least a day.

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