Come on, admit it. You had a lump in your throat, a tear welling up in your eye when Scott Seabol hit his climactic home run against the Yankees. Seabol’s shot heard ‘round the Red Planet set off a wave of joy throughout the Cardinal fan base, made his family eminently proud, and reminded us again of why we love this staid old game.
Bill Murray had it right in his classic movie “Stripes”. We Americans really are a bunch of mutts. A bunch of emotional push-overs who hang on the edge of our seats waiting for electric moments like Seabol’s homer to set us off all over again. I for one freely admit that I cried when Old Yeller met his demise. Lou Gehrig’s “Luckiest Man in the World” speech still knocks me for a loop. Don’t even get me started on James Earl Jones’ “People will Come” soliloquy in “Field of Dreams.”
Baseball fans throughout the nation stood up and applauded when Seabol’s ringing pinch-hit, first-pitch, seventh inning shot cleared the visitors’ bullpen by a very healthy margin. His home run trot reminded us all of the fallen Scott Rolen in its haste and modesty. No lolly-gagging around. No enjoying the moment. None of the cadillacking that he was arguably entitled to.
To his great credit, Seabol, faced with the most emotional moment of a long and undistinguished baseball career, lowered his head, ran from base to base, touched them all and disappeared into the Cardinal dugout. Almost at gunpoint from his teammates, he ducked out once to doff his cap in smiling acknowledgement of the curtain call from the 50,000 plus Cardinal faithful in attendance.
Scott Seabol is 30 years old. With the exception of a 3-week, one-at-bat stint with his ironically original team, the New York Yankees, he has been a career minor league player. He was called up a couple of weeks ago to help replace the injured Rolen. When Rolen returns, it is possible that Seabol will return to the relative baseball obscurity of the AAA Memphis Redbirds.
So Sunday was Seabol’s day in the sun, the punctuation of a career spent waiting for this magical moment when all the karmic forces of nature came together at home plate at Busch Memorial Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri and he jumped on it. He beat the team that originally drafted him, the team that only gave him three weeks in the majors, the team that cut him, released him, fired him. His home run turned the momentum of the game around so that the Cardinals could defeat the Bronx Bullies of inflated payroll and remarkable underachievement. To paraphrase the Cardinal Bard Mr. Shannon, ol’ Abner had really done it again this time.
We American fans are such saps for this sort of thing. Moments like Seabols create the amalgam of the most spiritual and everlasting qualities of this wonderful national pastime we call baseball. We may not recall that the Yankees nearly took two of three in their first series in St. Louis since 1964. Forgive us if we forget that the delightful Joe Torre came home for a few days. We might even lose sight of the fact that during this home stand the Cardinals took four of six games from two of the most prestigious franchises in baseball history.
Those are important and notable achievements in and of themselves, but on Sunday, June 12, 2005 we should remember that this was Scott Seabol’s day, the day that all of his hard work, dedication, determination, and sheer luck at being at the right place at the right time paid off for all of us teary-eyed sentimental do-gooders.
Scott Seabol’s day of day’s should also remind us of the thousands of other young men – perhaps the true Boys of Summer – who labor on in the various minor league systems throughout our nation. Through all the bus rides, crummy motel rooms, and fast-food burgers, they share the same goal that only the great minority will achieve. We don’t readily know their names or covet their baseball cards, but they carry on with the one ambition that perhaps, on some yet-unidentified field on some yet-unidentified day, they will come to the plate against a feared rival, strike the ball firmly with that sweet feeling that doesn’t sting the hands, watch the ball clear the outfield walls, and bring home a winner for the home team. Scott Seabol’s message from Sunday is “Stick with it, fella’s. There is hope.” What a great American moment.
You can write to Rex Duncan at firstname.lastname@example.org