Bill Selby’s grand slam
This one’s just for me, but this one I remember clear as crystal. Mariano Rivera was in Cleveland On July 14, 2002. He and the New York Yankees were blasting a depleted and rebuilding Indians squad. Down 7-0 in the sixth and with the leagues best closer awaiting the Indians should a comeback happen, the game felt over. That’s the beauty of baseball, there’s always magic left somewhere if you know where to look. The team rallies back, bringing the team within three by the bottom of the 9th.
With Rivera on the mound, the Tribe musters two runs, getting the game within striking distance. Now 7-6, Yankees, The Indians see Thome, Ellis Burkes, and Vizquel get on base to load them up. Coming to the plate however is little known, journeymen third basemen Bill Selby. At this point, he’d only been in the bigs for three and a half years, up and down between Cleveland, Boston, and Cinncinati.
Heading into this game, he had seven hits all season and just three RBI’s. Rivera out muscles Selby easily and gets him even up at two balls and two strikes. Down to just his final strike left, Rivera throws with all his might and barely-known Selby makes contact. He makes contact so well the ball goes screaming to deep right field where it crosses beyond the threshold from a baseball play to a baseball moment. A legend is born as the journeymen third basemen rounds the corner for home, ready to be mobbed by his teammates.
For a mid-July game, during the course of a lost season, you couldn’t ask for a better ending to a game than that. A journeyman hits a walk-off grand slam against the greatest closer to ever draw breath on a baseball field? That’s so rich and sweet that even Disney thinks it’s made up.
But it happened.