Steve Scafa played in the minor leagues, hitting .229/.462/.305 in 54 games for the Oneonta Yankees of the New York-Penn League in 1981. He had been a 22nd round pick of the New York Yankees in the 1981 amateur draft and was Oneonta's regular second baseman (fielding .976) in professional baseball. He had excellent speed, stealing 28 bases in 29 attempts and drew 53 walks in 54 games, scoring 46 runs. He finished third in the NYPL in both walks and steals.
Steve is propably best known for his role in what has been called the greatest pitching duel in college baseball history. On May 21, 1981, Yale University's Ron Darling faced off against St. John's University's Frank Viola in a fabulous pitching duel. With the game scoreless in the 12th, Scafa got the first hit allowed by Darling, who had struck out 16 batters up to that point, a single to the opposite field. He then stole second and third base, and after the next batter reached on an error, stole home on the back-end of a double steal. It was the game's only run. Darling and Viola both went on to successful pitching careers in the major leagues in the 1980s.
When Steve gave a speech to a local Little League last year, he asked the kids to raise their hands if they had a computer, Xbox or an Ipad. Naturally, quite a few hands when up in the air. That's when he whipped a rubber ball out of his pocket to show them what he grew up with. Of course, they all felt sorry for him but it was he who felt sorry for them.
You see, growing up in Brooklyn, N.Y., meant one thing and one thing only. Steve's life basically revolved around a rubber ball. Every game played in the street consisted of that little rubber ball. And all he did when he came home from school was throw the ball against the stoop in front of his house. Not only did it mean playing with close friends all the time but "little did I know, I was working on my baseball skills each and every day."
After graduating from Rhodes Prep in New York, N.Y., Steve attended St. John's University. "I essentially went there to play baseball.
I felt if I couldn't play there, I would never reach my ultimate goal of playing professionally." Steve made the team as a walk-on. After fighting for a starting job in his sophomore year, he became the starting second baseman in both his junior and senior years.I was working on my baseball skills each and every day."
Batting leadoff most of the time, Steve became known as the player "that can make things happen." Fundamentally sound and blessed with God-given speed, he did all the little things it takes to win baseball games. Bunting, stealing, taking the extra base and moving the runners along were some of the areas of the game that Steve excelled in. One year, Steve was the third leading base stealer in the country, successful on 40 out of 43 attempts.
In 1980, while playing in the College World Series against Hawaii, with runners on first and second and no outs, Steve dove and caught a line drive, stepped on second and threw to first base to complete one of only a few triple plays ever to be accomplished in the tournament.
However, there is no doubt that his greatest accomplishment came in 1981 when he helped St. John's defeat Yale 1-0 in what has since become known as "The Greatest College Baseball Game Ever Played."Yale's Ron Darling had no-hit St. John's for 11 innings, while striking out 16 batters, when Steve led off the 12th inning with a base hit to left field.
He then proceeded to steal second and third and, on the back-end of a double steal, stole home scoring the game's only run helping the Redmen defeat Yale.
The game is the subject of many books and hundreds of newspaper articles as thirty-one years later, Steve is still called by reporters asking to speak about the game. In fact, the local Mets' TV station, SNY, had a special tribute to the game last year.........on the 30th anniversary!
"When the game was over, you knew you had been involved in something special. But you definitely did not know that people would be talking about it thirty-one years later! The craziest thing to come out of that game is the boxscore. It's a bunch of zeroes with a couple of ones next to my name. And, yet, we won the game. Go figure. It is truly a game that will never be duplicated. I absolutely consider myself one of the luckiest guys in the world as my "15 minutes" has lasted 31 years."
After his senior year, Steve was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 22nd round. He played one year of Single-A ball in Oneonta, N.Y. Despite batting just .229, he had an incredible .463 on-base percentage. He led the team in stolen bases, stealing 28 bases in 29 attempts. He also led the team in bases-on-balls while finishing second in runs scored. Overall, he finished third in the New York Penn League in both walks and steals. Steve was released the following year which, essentially, ended his playing career.
For the last twenty years, Steve has had his own auto glass business while also putting his thoughts about sports on his blog entitled, IHADTOTURNITOFF.COM. He has also contributed to Sports Fan Live's website as a part-time blogger as well. He recently started Steve Scafa Baseball Camp where he emphasizes the correct fundamentals to kids.
"I have gotten back into coaching ever since my 7 yr-old son started t-ball a few years ago. I see so many kids in t-ball through little league that I can help. I have a lot I want to teach them. I love helping the kids get better. I guess it's in my blood. Let's put it this way, I want every kid that either I coach or comes to my camp to be throwing a rubber ball against a wall or a stoop when I am done
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