Bill Selby vs. New York Yankees (July 14, 2002)
It isn’t often that a meaningless home run in July ranks among the most memorable walk-off winners in any history, but such is life when that home run comes against Mariano Rivera.
After a stellar career with the Buffalo Bisons (AAA) – one that landed him in the Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame – the Indians light-hitting utility man Bill Selby came to the dish against the game’s best closer.
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The bases were loaded with two down in the bottom of the ninth inning and the Tribe trailed 7-6. After driving a Rivera cutter foul deep into the seats, Selby stepped back into the box and capped a seven-run comeback with a game-winning grand slam.
As he did for a 2010 Newsday article by Jim Baumbach, Selby vividly remembers his one shining moment:
"It happened so fast, with so much euphoria and adrenaline and everything you can think of. What I do remember more vividly than anything is the pitch before that. I hit it down the line foul. I remember making sure I didn’t jog back. I slowed down and told myself, ‘Look, you squared one off Mo. The odds are you’re not going to square another one off him. Most people are going to write you off here.’ I remember calming myself down more than anything."
To this day, Selby is known for two things in baseball: the walk-off slam and bestowing Indians’ designated hitter Travis Hafner with the nickname “Pronk.” Less than a year after the historic round-tripper, Selby was out of the league with a .223 lifetime average and just 11 career home runs.
Selby was just 5-feet-9-inches and 190 pounds, making his walk-off slam against the greatest closer in baseball history that much more memorable.
Next: October 5, 2007