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Mudville: July 19, 2024 10:46 pm PDT

Scott Livingstone

"It was great times. I love telling all these stories. ”

Growing up watching baseball in the 1970s and 80s was a glorious time. Not only was the game riddled with inner-circle Hall of Famers, but coverage of the game and exposure to those players was just starting to increase.

It was a time when the game transitioned from Roberto Clemente, Bob Gibson, Willie Mays and Hank Aaron to George Brett, Mike Schmidt, Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn. It seemed that every team had Hall of Famers and superstars in their lineups and on their pitching staffs.

Like many of our readers, Scott Livingstone grew up a big baseball fan in that era and he is our guest this week on Spitballin’.

What separates Livingstone from most of our readers is that not only did he grow up rooting for George Brett, he played against him in his first Big League game. While we were in awe of how smoothly Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker could turn two, Livingstone spent four seasons playing alongside them in the Tigers infield.

It’s always great to hear how excited former players still get when they reflect on the childhood version of themselves and still express awe at the fact that they grew up to play with and against the guys they rooted for as kids.

Prior to his eight-year Big League career, Livingstone was simply one of the best college baseball players to ever take the field at Texas A&M. At the time of his induction to the Texas A&M Athletics Hall of Fame in 1994, he was just the 13th baseball-only athlete to be enshrined. Pretty impressive considering the Aggies Hall of Fame dates back to 1964.

Livingstone was drafted in the second round of the 1988 Major League Baseball Draft and was in the Majors by 1991. He played four seasons each for the Tigers and Padres—including their 1996 National League West champion team–and had brief stops with the Cardinals and Expos as well. Today, among other things, he owns Stones Apparel, a CrossFit apparel company with his wife Emily.

If you’re looking for stories that include George Brett, Alan Trammell, Lou Whitaker and even Tom Selleck, you’re in the right place. So come along as we go Spitballin’ with Scott Livingstone.

Thanks for joining us, Mr. Livingstone! Appreciate you taking the time to share your baseball stories with us. Let’s go back to the beginning to start. What was baseball like for you as a kid growing up?

My dad actually played football at SMU and I had an older brother involved in sports. Incidentally, I would have gone to SMU to play baseball, but they didn’t have a team. Anyway, when I was about six years old, I wrote a little note to my mom that I wanted to be a Major League Baseball player. She still had it at the house. I started with tee ball and watched my brother as he was playing and followed in his footsteps. Me and some friends would drive to Rangers games a lot, but when we drove to the stadium Six Flags was on the way, so we always ended up stopping there instead. Growing up my favorite player was George Brett. He was a left-handed hitter playing third who seemed like a great guy too. I really enjoyed watching him.

1998: Infielder Scott Livingstone of the Montreal Expos in action during a game against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Credit: Jonathan Kirn /Allsport)

You developed into a great baseball player and had a fantastic high school career that took you to Texas A&M, where you are in their Hall of Fame. Let’s start with how you got to Texas A&M. What was that recruiting process like?

I loved my time at A&M. I was being heavily recruited, but decided to stay in state, so the University of Texas and Texas A&M were the two top schools in the state. Rice, TCU and Texas Tech weren’t where they are now. I got a letter from Texas my junior year offering me a full scholarship, so my mind was made up to go to Texas. Then I went and visited both and liked A&M a little more.

I was on a recruiting trip to Texas with some other guys. We went to Stuart Anderson’s Steakhouse in Austin, Texas. [College Baseball Hall of Famer] Cliff Gustafson was the Head Coach at Texas at the time. He went around the table to each kid on the recruiting trip and said, “Are you ready to sign with Texas and become a Longhorn?” Every kid said yes and I was the last one he asked. He said, “Scott, how about it? Are you ready to join these guys and be a Longhorn?” I said, “You know, I think I’m gonna look at A&M next week.” My dad just about choked on his steak.

You mentioned being in the Texas A&M Hall of Fame. That’s pretty impressive company when you think about all the incredible athletes who came through there. What can you tell our readers about your time at A&M?

I had a great time at A&M. I’m in their Hall of Fame and am one of 22 athletes in their Hall of Champions across all sports. That’s a pretty big honor. Chuck Knoblauch was my roommate there and he’s in their Hall of Fame too. A lot of great athletes went through there. The awards were great there, but it was really the guys and the relationships I built where I was there. That’s what I miss the most about my time there.

I hear someone yelling over from first base, “Hey Scotty! Scotty! Throw some over this way.” I looked over and it was Magnum PI!

That’s such a great honor. I actually saw that you got drafted after each of your sophomore, junior and senior seasons, plus you were drafted out of high school. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen someone drafted four times! How did that all transpire?

I don’t know because school really wasn’t my thing! I got drafted by the Blue Jays in the sixth round out of high school. They called me when they came to Texas to play the Rangers and invited me to take batting practice with them. Rance Mulliniks and Garth Iorg were their third basemen that year and they told me to come dress with them. I had a locker next to Dennis Lamp. I was 17 years old and was so intimidated, but I got to hit in the Rangers ballpark and that was cool. When I was done, they told me they’d have my jersey ready tomorrow and they’d see me then, but I never went back. I was too intimidated.

The Yankees drafted me in the 26th round after my freshman year just taking a shot, but nothing really happened there. Then in 1987, the A’s drafted me in the third round, but negotiations didn’t work out. In 1988, I got drafted in the second round by the Tigers. They didn’t have to give me any money, but they did. It worked out good.

You got your first callup to the Tigers in 1991- they had so much talent on that roster. Can you tell us your story about being called up for the first time?

Travis Fryman was their third baseman, but Alan Trammell broke his ankle so they moved Fryman to short, put Tony Phillips at third and called me up. I was in Toledo and the Tigers used to come in to play us in an exhibition game to help the Mudhens make some money. The players didn’t like coming in on their day off, so Cecil Fielder and those guys didn’t play. I went like 3-4 against them and made a couple of plays. My buddy Milt Cuyler tried to bunt on me and I got him. Jeff Kellogg was the umpire behind home plate for the exhibition and then their crew was staying for our next series. He called me out on a ball I thought was outside. I told him, “That better not be a strike tomorrow night.” Fast forward a few years. I got traded to San Diego and we were playing the Phillies. I went out to play third base and Jeff Kellogg was the third base umpire. I said, “Hey Jeff, how’s it going?” He said, “It was a strike the next night too!” That was three years later! Anyway, Chris Chambliss was our manager and when I came in, he said that Sparky Anderson wanted to talk to me in the clubhouse.

1999: Infielder Scott Livingstone #30 of the Los Angeles Dodgers in action during a Spring Training game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Holman Stadium in Vero Beach, Florida. The Dodgers defeated the Cardinals 5-4. (Credit: Matthew Stockman /Allsport)

So was Sparky Anderson the one who told you that you were going to the Big Leagues?

Well I grabbed my stuff and was running behind home plate. Some players were congratulating me on the way. I walked in and Sparky was there in his undershorts and tee-shirt. He probably had a chaw or cigar. He told me to go home and get clothes for three days to go to Kansas City and when we got back I could figure out where to live. Then he told me to meet them at the airport and that was it! The game had just ended and the stadium was packed. I couldn’t get out of the parking lot to get to the airport. I had a Nissan Pathfinder and was driving over curbs. I had to bust it home and made it to the airport. Instead of congratulating me when I got on the plane, the guys were like, “Get in the back! Rookies in the back!” It was the full rookie treatment.

You had a great debut, the floor is yours to tell our readers the story about your first experience as a Major Leaguer.

Well we went to play the Royals and I already told you George Brett was my favorite player. He was still on the team then. I was playing third and he was the DH that game. I came up for my first at bat and they put on the scoreboard that I was making my Major League debut. Late in the game, George Brett homers. As he’s rounding second I’m thinking, “What do I do? Do I high five him?” He was my guy! Anyway, he gets closer to me and looks me right in the eye and as he ran by he said, “Hey Scott, congratulations. Good luck.” I am getting goose bumps telling you about that. That was really cool. The next week we were playing the Orioles and I hit a double. Standing on second, Cal Ripken put his shoulder into my back and said, “Good luck rookie.”

Wow, that’s unbelievable! Really cool to hear those guys did that. These are incredible memories.

They are, but they might not beat the time I was in Spring Training with the Tigers and Tom Selleck was working out with the team. He was going to film Mr. Baseball, so he wanted to get some practice in. I remember they were hitting me some ground balls and I hear someone yelling over from first base, “Hey Scotty! Scotty! Throw some over this way.” I looked over and it was Magnum PI! He always wore the Tigers hat on Magnum PI. I was trying to make sure I hit him in the chest. It’s pretty cool to say I played catch with Tom Selleck. We were in Lakeland and he actually hit one out in batting practice. He was pretty good.

1998: Infielder Scott Livingstone of the Montreal Expos in action during a game against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Credit: Jonathan Kirn /Allsport)

Oh man, that’s awesome! Our Editor-In-Chief is gonna love that story. I think I have seen pictures of him dressed as Magnum PI, intentionally or unintentionally. (It was almost entirely intentional. – ed.) Tom Selleck aside, you played in the same infield as Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker for a few seasons. What was it like sharing the infield with one of the best double play duos to ever play the game?

Those guys were great. If we went out to eat or out for a beer after the game, Trammell would sit down and talk to you about the game. Alan looked after everyone and Lou kind of did his own thing, but both of them were class acts and great to young guys. I really enjoyed playing with them. You had to be an open book and listen to what they said because they had so much knowledge. They made everything look so easy. Trammell would always throw everyone out by just a step, but he didn’t care. He was smooth and didn’t have to throw it too hard. They were just great to play with.

In 1994, the Tigers traded you to the Padres. Was that tough leaving the only organization you knew?

It was good for my career. When Alan Trammell came back from an injury that moved me to the bench, so I never really got to be a full-time player. When I got told I was being traded, I felt a little defeated, but then I stepped off the plane in San Diego and it was 70 degrees, things didn’t seem too bad. Getting traded can be good and bad. I got to play a lot of third base in San Diego, but then they traded for Ken Caminiti, so I wasn’t gonna play over him. I got a lot of playing time at first the next year because Eddie Williams pulled his hamstring. I hit .337 that year, but then they went out and got Wally Joyner. I was never gonna make waves though. If my job was to come off the bench or be a pinch hitter, I was going to try to just do my best at that. Whatever the club needed me to do, I was going to do it. Bruce Bochy was my manager and he relied on me a lot and I had to be ready. Rickey Henderson once said to me, “Stoney, I don’t know how you do that. You sit there for eight innings, come in and face the closer and get a hit.”

1993: Scott Livingstone and Mickey Tettleton come together and record an out in game against the California Angels in Anaheim, California. (Getty)

You played that role so well on the 1996 Padres, a team that made a 21-game improvement from the year before to win the West over the Dodgers seemingly out of nowhere. Looking back now, what are your reflections on that season?

There’s a saying on some teams that goes, “25 guys, 25 cabs.” That means they’re a team that’s not really together. This was the total opposite. We’d have a day off on the road and the pitchers would be getting together to play golf and they’d invite as many guys as they could. They wouldn’t just be out there on their own. People would get to the stadium early and eat together and play cards. We were just so close-knit and we trusted each other. We swept the Dodgers the last series of the year to win the West by one game. We were stretching behind home plate, fooling around and wrestling with each other. Chris Gwynn later told me he couldn’t believe how loosey-goosey we were. That was our personality. We had fun, got along great, we had some real good players and things fell into place for us.

I was reading that you and your wife own Stones Apparel, which has some great workout gear and other items. Could you talk to our readers about Stones Apparel?

My wife and I have always worked out our whole lives. We did CrossFit competitions and things like that and started thinking about workout apparel for CrossFit athletes. Nothing too crazy, things like t-shirts, raglan tees and hats. We started putting designs on shirts and creating decorated apparel for workout enthusiasts. She had a job in medical sales for Johnson & Johnson and during Covid that really slowed down. We were sitting across the table and were talking about the company and we were like, “You know, we can get along. Maybe we should start this business!”

Everyone called me Stoney in baseball and I had this one friend who always called me “Stones,” so that’s what we went with. We have soft, comfortable clothing people like working out in and make things people can wear out too. We sell online and we also go to events. For example, we just went to Girls of Summer, a women’s CrossFit competition in Katy, Texas. They’ll have this vendor village and we’ll set up in there and sell our clothing. We started doing custom printing as well. We’re CrossFit people and those are the kind of people we’re around, so we can talk the talk with them. It’s a lot of work but we enjoy it.

That’s awesome, best of luck with it! Thanks for sharing your stories with us, it’s been a lot of fun. Last question for you. When you take a look back at the kid who wrote that note to your mom when you were a kid about being a Major League Baseball player and then think about everything you accomplished in the game, what are your thoughts reflecting on that?

I accomplished what I set out to do. It was a goal of mine to become a Major League Baseball player and I was able to do that. It wasn’t something I was focused on for my whole childhood, but something I wanted. I thought I was going to be a quarterback and go to the NFL because in eighth grade I was 6’0”, 170. I had the high school coach go through drills with me when I was in junior high. Then when I got to tenth grade he was like, “Oh, you’re still six foot?” Needless to say, I didn’t become the quarterback, so I stuck with baseball. Once people started talking about the draft, I thought I might be able to play professional baseball for real.

It’s hard to put into words looking back. It was great times. I love telling all these stories. Like the one about Jeff Kellogg and other great stories about the good people I met in the game from teammates to umpires, who were good guys even when they were wrong. I think of a teammate like Scott Sanders. The last time I saw him was at Trevor Hoffman’s Hall of Fame party. Like with all guys, if I don’t talk to them or see them in a while, it won’t matter. We pick up right where we left off and it seems like I just saw them yesterday.

Rocco is a baseball writer with too much time on his hands who lives in the dusty corners of Baseball Reference. He was one half of the battery for the 1986 Belleville Recreation Farm League Champion Indians. He likes early 20th century baseball nicknames, pullover polyester jerseys and Old Hoss Radbourn. He works as a College Athletics Director and his second book was released in April of 2021.

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