For many former Stanley high school baseball players, watching the World Series 2020 had the added bonus of playing with, playing against, or training a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Corey Seager, the most valuable player for both the National League Championship Series and the World Series 2020, played American Legion baseball in Area III against Stanly County Post 76. Seager also played cards on Dirtbag’s travel baseball team with Stanly players.
Seager is one of eight MLB players and three former US Legion players who have won MVPs in the NLCS and World Series.
Seager played American Legion Baseball for Post 115 in Kannapolis, as a first-round, top-prospect and All-Star. In the 2020 post season, he was named MVP in both the National League Championship Series and the World Series, one of eight players (and three ALB alumni) to achieve the double performance.
Zach Almond, the former baseball catcher at North Stanly and Catawba, who has been playing pro baseball since 2017, played against Seager in 2011 when the team was still playing home games at AL Brown High School.
Almond was a first-year student who played senior Legion ball, and the team traveled to play on the court which at the time was at the bottom of a large hill with the bleachers and the pressure box far above it.
The former comet said he remembered people talking about him and his older brother, Kyle, who had made his majors that year. But when he first saw Corey at the plate, he said he looked like a man playing with a bunch of kids.
“He was 6’3 or 6’4; just a big, big kid. I was like ‘Holy Cow!’ In almonds. “He made the game look easy. When he placed a ground ball and threw over the diamond, he looked like he was barely trying to throw it, but the ball went about 150 miles per hour. ”
Behind the record, Almond took a closer look at Seager’s skill with the bat. Coach Derek Barringer had told Almond and the starting pitcher that day, Almond’s North Stanly teammate Jake Lowder, not to give Seager anything to beat, basically to leave him.
After a couple of kicks outside that Almond said they did not even hit Seager, Lowder threw one over the middle which the catcher said Seager “hit about 15 miles.”
Lowder said he remembered Seager hitting a backside from him and then a home run. After teammate Gus Fesperman equalized with a home run, Seager got up on the ninth and hit a home run “there was absolutely no doubt.”
Almond said he knew Seager would play in the major leagues one day. He said that the future MVP series looked like he was going through the motions, but did so at such a high level with so little effort.
He remembered a new game when Kannapolis beat Stanly 7-6 and Seager produced all seven races against Post 76 in the loss, including two home races, one of which cleared the baseball field and landed in the softball field’s infield mousse, which was far from the baseball field’s home plate.
Although he was drafted by Arizona in 2017, Almond said it’s honestly cool to be able to say he played against a World Series MVP.
Seager was the best player in the state of North Carolina that year, but Almond said he was not a strong player, but otherwise he played and carried himself on the field, “you knew he was legitimate.”
Looking at how Seager ran off the field, stood in the excavation with his teammates and supported them during games, was a good example of how to play the game, Almond said.
Currently waiting to see where he will continue his career in 2021, Almond said it was cool to be on the same stage as Seager.
Lowder added: “From the moment he stepped on the pitch, I could tell he was the best player I had played against. When you hit him, you just hope he somehow misses it. It’s nice to see him do that to the guys at the highest level as well. I’m a big fan of the guy. It is very fun to see him succeed as he has as a professional. ”
A member of the South Stanly state baseball team in 2009 and 2012 had the opportunity to play travel basketball with Seager as a member of Dirtbags, a travel team.
Stephen Wallace, who reached the state finals three of his four seasons to play for the Bulls, also played for the Dirtbags and played with Seager for a short time.
Wallace said “you could always tell he was on a different level, not just his skill, but his competitiveness and overall mental abilities for the game (which was) beyond.”
“When you get to a certain level of baseball, everyone has the ability and the skill to compete,” Wallace said. “It is the mental game that takes you further; Corey has it. That was what stood out to me the short time I played with him. ”
Wallace added that Seager was “a huge team guy” and he “is the kind of guy you want on your team. (He always picks everyone up and does what he has to do for the team.”
Dirtbags posted side by side on social media this week pictures of Seager, one as a member of the team and the other from the Dodgers.
A coach’s point of view
One person who saw Seager play from the perspective of a coach of the day is current South Stanly head coach Terry Tucker.
Tucker, the Bulls’ triple 1A state championship coach who has had teams present in five state finals in total, was the assistant coach at the NC Powerade State Games, where he was the assistant coach when Seager played as a sophomore.
The Bulls coach said he was a very versatile player who played shortstop and third base for the team and was “a strong hit from the left side of the plate.”
“He did not play like a sophomore in high school. I knew he was going to do great things one day. ”