It was September 1, 1998 and the Yankees were coasting to the AL East Division title. With 98 wins entering the month, they had an 18.5 game lead in the division. Suffice it to say, they had a comfortable lead. Among their September call ups was a 26 year old named Shane Spencer. Spencer appeared in a few games at the major league level earlier in ’98, but had spent most of the past 8 seasons in the Yankees system before making a splash late in the season.
During the 14 games he played in September, Spencer hit 8 long balls while driving in 21 runs. Three of his 8 HRs were grand slams (keep in mind it took Jeter 9 seasons to hit is one and only grand slam). It seemed like every time I looked in the box score the next day (yes, that was a thing back in 1998) Spencer hit another home run. Nobody could explain it, and everyone involved seemed stunned — including Spencer.
A forgotten aspect of Spencer’s success was the fact he filled a giant hole in the Yankees lineup that was caused when Darryl Strawberry was diagnosed with cancer. Here’s Spencer’s third grand slam, which came on the final day of the ’98 season.
Another notable moment from Spencer’s career was when he famously overthrew two cutoff men in Oakland, which resulted in this: