The Top 20 Moments in Jacobs Field History: Who is Bill Selby?

The 2014 season will mark 20 years of baseball at Progressive (ie Jacobs) Field. It’s been a relatively short history (although with the stadium building boom in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Progressive Field is the 13th oldest facility in the majors). Did the Tribe Win Last Night has compiled a list of the 20 most memorable moments in the field’s history. We’ll count them down for 20 consecutive Saturdays.

11. “Who is Bill Selby?” July 14, 2002

For the first three innings of the Sunday afternoon Indians game against the Yankees, it looked like Tribe fans would be treated (if that’s the word) to a perfect game by Mike Mussina. Moose had taken a perfect game against the Tribe into the ninth with the Orioles, was staked to a 4-0 lead as Chuck Finley got rocked in the first inning.

In the bottom of the seventh, with the Yankees leading 7-0, Jim Thome hit a three-run home run. The Tribe had tacked another run on by the bottom of the ninth, when Mariano Rivera came on to close. He’d given up a memorable game-tying home run to Sandy Alomar in the 1997 American League Division Series, and took the loss in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series, but he was still regarded as a virtual lock, especially facing 8-9-1 of the Indians’ order.

John McDonald and Eddie Perez each singled for the Tribe. Chris Magruder’s fielder’s choice scored McDonald, but pinch-runner Einar Diaz was out at second. Omar Vizquel singled to advance Magruder to third, and Ellis Burks doubled, putting runners on second and third. Rivera walked Jim Thome to load the bases. Travis Fryman struck out swinging, and up stepped journeyman Bill Selby, with the Tribe down to their last out.

Selby, who had a total of 11 home runs in his career, caught a 2-2 pitch for a game-winning grand slam. It was a regular season game. And the Indians went nowhere that season, finishing third in the Central. But for one afternoon, the Indians hearkened back to the teams of the 1990s, when no lead was safe.

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