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Friday, January 29, 2010

Scott Little, Bottom of the 17th - 25

Check out the revisited Scott Little feature from November 2011: Scott Little, Each Chance

A sacrifice fly can be an exciting play. A fly ball to deep right field and the runner on third hustles home ahead of the throw. Or races home only to be gunned down. For Scott Little, both scenarios - one with a hand directly from Little - helped lead to the bottom of the 17th inning and Little's one and only major league hit.

Drafted in the seventh round of the 1984 draft by the Mets, Little had spent parts of six seasons in the minors working toward this day. He made the Pirates' organization in 1987, traded along with fellow CMC setter Al Pedrique for utility man Bill Almon.

He made the Pirates' AAA club in Buffalo in 1988 and, finally, the big club in late july 1989.

By Aug. 6, Little had only been in two games, coming to bat twice and making outs twice. On this day, it was again looking like his services would not be needed.

The Pirates were down 4-3 in the bottom of the ninth when Barry Bonds launched a deep fly to right off Cubs closer Mitch Williams. Rafael Belliard tagged and scored, helping send the game to extras, according to the Baseball-Reference play by play.

Little wouldn't get his chance until the 14th. And what a chance it was. Runners on second and third, two outs. A base hit would win the game. Little struck out.

But nobody else could do much better. In the top of the 16th, it looked like the Cubs might take the lead. With Mark Grace on third, Shaun Dunston launched another ball to right. Little was there for the catch, rifling it home to beat Grace to the plate and preserve the tie and give himself one more chance at bat.

In the bottom of the 17th, with a runner on first, Little smacked the first pitch he saw to left. It dropped. The game, along with Little's major league career, would end one inning later, with a Pirates win on a Jeff King home run.

Little would go on to play two more seasons with Buffalo, never getting anther call-up. But his baseball career wasn't done. He went straight from the clubhouse to the manager's office, taking the helm of the Pirates' South Atlantic League team in Augusta, Ga.

More recently, he managed the Harrisburg Senators in 2007 and the Frisco RoughRiders in 2008 and 2009. With the RoughRiders, he won Texas League Manager of the Year honors for his first campaign.

In a 1992 interview with his hometown newspaper, the Southeast Missourian, Little described his view of baseball.

"There's only one way to play the game," Little told the paper during his first year managing. "I've seen players give tremendous effort when they're playing well, but then turn around and not hustle when things aren't going well."

Little's effort on that August day in 1989 got him a major league hit.

To read the entire 1992 interview, click here:

1990 CMC Tally
Cards Reviewed: 33/880 - 3.8%
Major Leaguers: 17 - 52%
Never Made the Majors: 16 - 48%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 6
10+ Seasons in the Minors: 10

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