Scott Sheldon, A Player the Rays Wish They Had


No more Rays minor league recaps for a while, so we’ll replace their morning slot with completely random content that may or may not have anything to do with the Tampa Bay Rays. I hope you’ll come away at least mildly amused.

Too bad Sheldon never ended up on the Rays. (Credit: Carrie Sheldon via Wikipedia)

The Rays love versatility. Too bad they never got their hands on a player with Scott Sheldon‘s skill-set. While researching another article, I found out about this game. Listen to this.

On September 6, 2000, the Rangers were not having a good game as they played the Chicago White Sox. Rick Helling, on his way to a 16-win season in 2000, did not pitch like a 16-winner in the slightest, allowing 7 runs in two-thirds of an inning before departing. The Rangers realized that they basically had no chance of winning the game. So in the 4th, the Rangers had some pity on catcher Bill Haselman, taking him out of the game. Who they replace him with? Utility infielder and natural shortstop Scott Sheldon. Sheldon caught for the inning and what do you know, Brian Sikorski tossed a 1-2-3 inning. Then the Rangers had some pity on Sheldon, bringing in catcher B.J. Waszgis to replace star Rafael Palmeiro, who was coming out thanks to the blowout score, and moving Sheldon to first base. Of course Sikorski allowed a 2-run home run to make it 12-1 White Sox. In the 6th, the White Sox realized that Sheldon had no idea how to play first base, so they switched him with second base Frank Catalanotto. Then they decided to get him to his natural position with 2 outs in the inning, swaping him with shortstop Kelly Dransfeldt.

In the 7th, the Rangers were deluded enough to bring in catcher Randy Knorr to replace left fielder Chad Curtis, forcing Sheldon to right field for the second time in his life. With 1 out in the inning after a flyball to Gabe Kapler in centerfield, the Rangers decided that the odds were that the next ball would not be to centerfield so they switched Sheldon with Kapler. Now he’s playing a position where he has never played his entire career. Luckily a groundball double play ended the inning. Then in the 8th, Sheldon started the inning in left field with Ricky Ledee playing right, but then after the first out of the inning, the Rangers moved Sheldon to the mound. Sheldon, having never pitched before, struck out Jeff Leifer for the second out of the inning. Then Francisco Cordero came in to pitch with Sheldon moving to third base. A flyball ended the inning and the Rangers lost 13-1.

Sheldon is the only player since 1918 to enter a game as a substitute and play all nine positions. In the game, he went 1 for 2 with one putout as a catcher, a strikeout as a pitcher, and (luckily for everyone else), only one other ball hit to him at the other seven postions, a single to right field that he fielded cleanly. Sheldon never did anything like that again, never even playing three positions in a game any other time. But we see that he had it in him. Imagine what Joe Maddon would have done with Scott Sheldon!

Sheldon actually has a bunch of completely random similarities with Ben Zobrist. Sheldon was 6’3″, 185 in his prime while Zobrist is 6’3″, 210. Sheldon was born in Indiana while Zobrist was born in Illinois, but both later moved to Texas for school, Sheldon to Houson and Zobrist to Dallas. Sheldon was an 8th round pick, Zobrist a 6th round pick. Both were natural infielders that started playing the outfield in earnest only once they got to the big leagues. And finally, Sheldon retired in 2004, the year Zobrist was drafted. Scott Sheldon has nothing to do with the Tampa Bay Rays. But nevertheless, we salute him for his utterly frivolous yet completely memorable unforgettable to the game of baseball.