But his run through September - eight home runs, six in the final week - and a home run in his first at bat in the playoffs provided a good literary start.
"I'm just riding it now, cherishing the moment," Spencer told reporters, according to The Tulsa World, after his first postseason shot. "Maybe someday I'll look back on it."
Spencer went on from that spectacular September to a career that saw seven major league seasons and a total of 59 big league home runs.
Spencer's career began back in 1990, taken by the Yankees in the 28th round of the draft out of Granite Hills High in California.
Spencer played his first season with the Yankees in the rookie Gulf Coast League. He hit .184 in 42 games.
He made single-A Greensboro in 1992, then high-A Tampa in 1994. Going into 1995, he played in a game that would impact his relationship with future teammates.
Told if he didn't play in a spring 1995 replacement game for the Yankees, that he would be released, Spencer played. Once he made the majors, he wasn't allowed to join the union.
Spencer returned to high-A Tampa for 1995. He made AA Norwich in 1996 and AAA Columbus in 1997. He hit 32 home runs in 1996, mostly at Norwich.
He made his debut in the Bronx in April 1998. He saw two games in April, one in June and returned in late July. He hit his first major league home run Aug. 7, actually his first two that day.
He finished with 10 total. He also hit two more against Texas in the Division Series as the Yankees went on to the title. He hit one more postseason home run - in Game 4 of the 2001 World Series.
Spencer returned to the Yankees for 71 games in 1999. He hit .234 and eight home runs. By that June, Spencer was struggling with bad luck and the Yankees appeared about to look elsewhere. But Spencer claimed readiness to Newsday.
"I don't care about pressure," Spencer told Newsday. "I wish I had bases loaded, two outs and a chance to win the game every at-bat."
Spencer saw another 73 games for the Yankees in 2000 and 80 in 2001. He hie .258, with 10 home runs in 2001.
He saw 94 games for the Yankees in 2002. He hit six home runs and had a .247 average.
Spencer split 2003 between the Indians and the Rangers. He then played 74 final games for the Mets in 2004. He hit .281, with four home runs.
Spencer played two more seasons in Japan, for Hanshin. He it 15 total home runs there to end his playing career.
Spencer soon went into coaching in the minors and independent ball. In 2015, he went to Korea and became a minor league manager there.
He looked back on his 1998 rapid rise in 2018 to MLB.com, then in his third year coaching in Korea.
"It's flattering. You reflect on it and you're like, 'Man, I wish I would have kept it going,'" Spencer told MLB.com. "If I'm in Seoul or in a big city, I'll have fans there, and the reporters do their research. My players were really young, so they don't know, but they'll show me a video or something. The funny thing is, they'll rag on me about how tight our pants were. I'm like, 'Well, that's the way it was!'"
- Tulsa World, Oct. 1, 1998: A new Yankee legend
- Newsday, June 28, 1999: For Shane, It's Now Or Never
- New York Post, Aug. 23, 2002: Checked 'mate - Union pal kept Spencer out
- MLB.com, Sept. 24, 2018: 'Home run dispenser' of '98 live in Yanks' lore
Made the Majors:1,136-36.6%-X
Never Made Majors:1,970-63.4%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 471-X
10+ Seasons in the Minors:281