Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — There were days in Lewiston when Kevin Siegrist couldn’t find anyone to stand in against him so he pitched to trees in Kiwanis Park.
“I’d go over to catch for him and I’d tell him, ‘Don’t hit the tree,’” recalled his Dad, also Kevin Siegrist, from his home in Wellington, near Palm Beach on Florida’s East Coast.
Recalled Andy Heuer, a coach with the Anderson Electric team which charged to the Hyde Park Major League title, “he had the fire in his gut and he was well-coached. Not by me, though. Nothing was broken and we didn’t want to do anything to mess him up.”
Rick Lancellotti, Buffalo’s premiere baseball instructor, recalls “A good-natured kid having fun” at his Buffalo School of Baseball. “And when we saw him on the screen the other night it was like, ‘You gotta’ be kiddin’ me!’ Six-foot-five, throwin’ 96? We hardly recognized him.”
But the world has recognized the St. Louis Cardinals’ Kevin Siegrist, 24, the first local product to pitch in a World Series since Cardinal O’Hara’s Billy Scherrer (Detroit, Oct. 14, 1984). After a long countdown on the Cards’ launch pad, he rocketed through the system this summer – Class AA (Springfield, MO), then Triple-A (Memphis) and, finally, St. Louis, where he etched a miniscule 0.45 ERA through 45 games.
His World Series debut Wednesday was differently memorable. With the Cards already down 5-0, he came on to face David Ortiz, whose physique may have reminded him of those Lewiston trees. “Big Papi” spanked a two-run homer. “That’s OK,” Siegrist Senior would later text him. “That’s not the last home run you’ll ever throw.”
Born in Buffalo, raised in Lewiston, he hit more homers than he threw around here, and at 11 was intimidating Hyde Park Leaguers a year older. “We’d figured ‘rec ball’ just wasn’t for him,” says the elder Siegrist, who’s in St. Louis this weekend for games 3-5.