Scott Spiezio

How the Cardinals signed Scott Spiezio and spurred a phenomenon

On his way to helping the Cardinals capture the 10th World Series in franchise history, utility infielder Scott Spiezio inadvertently started a fashion phenomenon at Busch Stadium.

Spiezio had been a World Series hero for the Angels in 2002, but he came to St. Louis after two subpar seasons with the Mariners. On February 17, 2006, the Cardinals signed him to a minor league contract with no guarantee of a regular-season roster spot.

The son of former Cardinals third baseman/left fielder Ed Spiezio, Scott was a former sixth-round draft choice of the Athletics. In 2000, he signed a free-agent deal with the Angels and became a postseason hero in 2002 as he hit .327 with three homers and 19 RBIs in the playoffs to help the Angels win the World Series.

Spiezio cemented his place in Angels lore in Game 6 of the World Series when, on the 11th pitch of the at-bat, he hit a three-run home run off Giants reliever Felix Rodriguez to cut San Francisco’s lead to 5-3. A home run by Darin Erstad and a two-run double by Troy Glaus gave the Angels a 6-5 win, and they went on to win Game 7 for the first World Series title in franchise history.

Spiezio played one more season in Anaheim before signing a free-agent contract with the Mariners. In Seattle, however, Spiezio struggled through two of the worst seasons of his career. After suffering a back injury early in the 2004 season, Spiezio hit just .215/.288/.346 with 10 homers and 41 RBIs. In 2005, he was batting .064/.137/.149 with one home run and one RBI through 51 at-bats when the Mariners released him in August.

“I get other coaches asking me if I went to Japan or if I had surgery and had missed the last couple years,” Spiezio said. “People thought I had some sort of operation that kept me out 18 months or had retired. I was hurt for three weeks. It’s just weird.”[1]

David Eckstein, who had played alongside Spiezio in Anaheim, vouched for his former teammate.

“Scott’s a hard-nosed guy who really understands and loves playing the game,” Eckstein said. “You see a lot of free spirit, and a lot of free-spirit people are like, ‘Whatever happens, happens.’ Not him. He wants to win. You look at a perception that people might get and it’s not the whole thing. He really wants to win.”[2]

Spiezio’s free-spirit ways included serving as lead singer and guitarist for the rock group Sandfrog and a tattoo on his left arm of his wife in a tight white t-shirt and black underpants.

“It wasn’t for everybody else. It was for me,” Spiezio said. “There were rumors it was naked, but it’s nothing like that. It’s something I liked and I wanted. You see guys with pin-up girls all the time. If I didn’t tell anybody it was my wife, nobody would say anything about it.”[3]

After the Cardinals lost veterans like Larry Walker, Ray King, Cal Eldred, Reggie Sanders, Matt Morris, and John Mabry during the offseason, Cardinals general manager Walt Jocketty said that Spiezio’s unconventional nature made him an intriguing addition to the clubhouse.

“We’ve got some reports that he can be a little bit off the wall, but he’s also a good guy,” Jocketty said.[4]

“I’m pretty level-headed but I love to joke around and have fun,” Spiezio said. “In Seattle, there really wasn’t anyone who liked to do that. Here, everybody’s like that. To have the tattoo here, it’s cool. Fans say, ‘Hey, let me see your tattoo.’ I don’t really care. I like to have fun. If people don’t like it, they don’t have to look at it.”[5]

At spring training, Spiezio was given jersey No. 26, the same number his father wore as a Cardinal in the 1960s.[6] Ed Spiezio played the first five seasons of his career in St. Louis, though he played in just 132 games over that span before going on to enjoy the best seasons of his career with the Padres.

To earn his spot on the major-league roster, Scott Spiezio had to beat out Brian Daubach, an eight-year veteran, and former Rule V draft pick Hector Luna.

Once the season began, Spiezio became even more important than the Cardinals anticipated. With third baseman Scott Rolen battling a shoulder injury, Spiezio appeared in 38 games at third base. He also appeared in left field, at first and second base, and as a pinch-hitter and designated hitter. In 321 total plate appearances, Spiezio hit .272/.366/.496 with 13 homers and 52 RBIs. He batted .304 with runners in scoring position and .367 with runners in scoring position and two outs.[7]

“Overall it’s been great,” Spiezio said in August. “I feel like I’ve been given a new life in baseball. The last two years, I thought if I felt like this I shouldn’t even be on the field, but when I got to spring training I felt mentally revived. These are good guys. I want to do everything to help them win.”[8]

His biggest hit came September 30, in the second-to-last game of the season, when he broke a 1-for-20 slump with a pinch-hit, bases-loaded triple. The three-run drive gave the Cardinals a 3-2 win over the Brewers and kept St. Louis 1 ½ games ahead of the Astros for the NL Central championship with two games remaining.

That game-winning blast, combined with the signature soul patch Spiezio had dyed red back when he first signed his contract, suddenly made Spiezio a featured attraction around the ballpark.

Chris Vroman of Crestwood got the idea to sell replica soul patches modeled after Spiezio’s. Before the Cardinals began the National League Division Series against the Padres, she and some of her Grant’s Farm co-workers delivered 100 felt patches to Mike Burch, who operated the Lite Up the Nite souvenir stand.

“The first round of the playoffs, we were selling about 1,000 a day,” Burch said.[9]

Fans began to create their own versions, which ranged from simple construction paper to felt.

“He has no idea what sort of phenomenon he has started,” said Debbie Murray of University City. “It looks good on everyone, even women. I don’t feel weird at all wearing one, though I will if it doesn’t come off.”[10]

With fans wearing their red soul patches in his honor, Spiezio doubled and added two triples on his way to five RBIs in the NLCS. The Cardinals’ 2006 World Series title marked the second championship of Spiezio’s career.

That November, the Cardinals signed Spiezio two a two-year, $4.5 million contract. In a statement released by the team, Jocketty said, “You hear the term ‘winning player.’ Scott showed once again why he has been tabbed with such a label. Scott’s leadership, versatility, and production in the clutch are such strong qualities, and we are happy to announce that he will remain a Cardinal.”[11]

However, the 2007 season proved to be the final season of Spiezio’s major league career. In August, he left the team for more than a month to get outpatient treatment for drug and alcohol abuse. On February 27, 2008, the Cardinals released Spiezio from his contract after they learned that a warrant for his arrest had been issued in California related to a December 2007 incident. Charges, which ultimately were dropped, included aggravated assault and driving under the influence.[12]

In parting ways with Spiezio, the Cardinals assumed his $2.3 million salary for the 2008 season plus a $100,000 buyout of his option for 2009.[13]

Spiezio signed a minor-league deal with the Braves in March but was released the following month. He spent the next two seasons playing independent baseball with the Orange County Flyers and the Newark Bears before retiring.

Enjoy this post? Sign up below and get Cardinals history delivered directly to your inbox!

[1] Joe Strauss, “Spiezio is planning to tattoo his name on Cards’ roster,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 13, 2006.

[2] Joe Strauss, “Spiezio is planning to tattoo his name on Cards’ roster,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 13, 2006.

[3] Joe Strauss, “Spiezio is planning to tattoo his name on Cards’ roster,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 13, 2006.

[4] Joe Strauss, “Cards seek to regain ‘good pulse,’” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, February 25, 2006.

[5] Joe Strauss, “Spiezio is planning to tattoo his name on Cards’ roster,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 13, 2006.

[6] Derrick Goold, “Early Spivey checks in to get jump into spring,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, February 19, 2006.

[7] Joe Strauss, “Spiezio will return,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 17, 2006.

[8] Joe Strauss, “Spiezio enjoys ‘new life,’” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 11, 2006.

[9] Paul Hampel, “Do you Spiezio?” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 24, 2006.

[10] Diane Torioian Keaggy, “Spiezio look catches on,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 16, 2006.

[11] Joe Strauss, “Spiezio will return,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 17, 2006.

[12] Joe Strauss, “Cards cut Spiezio over DUI case,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, February 28, 2008.

[13] Joe Strauss, “Cards cut Spiezio over DUI case,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, February 28, 2008.

Leave a Comment