Newsmaker Maness

Seth Maness pitches during a game in Atlanta.

Seth Maness sat in the stands at Fenway Park the day before the start of the World Series this past October. His St. Louis Cardinals were set to take on the Boston Red Sox, and he let himself soak it all in.

“It was just an awesome feeling,” the St. Louis Cardinals rookie relief pitcher said of playing in the World Series. “You look all around. It is such a great place. You realize how special it is.”

While the Red Sox went on to win the series, the former Pinecrest High School star said it was, in total, an incredible season.

“If someone had told me a year ago that I would be playing in the Series, I would have said, ‘You are crazy,’” said Maness, who is spending time in the area with family during the offseason. “I wanted to do whatever it took to be at that level.”

James Baldwin, a former major league pitcher himself and Maness’ pitching coach at Pinecrest, said in a story in The Pilot in October that Maness was “a big reason” the Cardinals were in the World Series.

“Seth wants to win,” he said. “He has the mentality to get it done.”

Maness said he had no idea how things would play out when he made his Major League debut May 3 at Miller Field in Milwaukee. He threw six pitches, all strikes, to end the eighth inning and secure a Cardinals win.

The next night proved emblematic of what would become a hallmark of his rookie season. In the eighth inning of a tie game, with runners on first and second, the batter ground into a double play to end the inning. The Cards scored a run in the ninth, and Maness got his first Major League win in his second outing.

Over the rest of the season, Maness led all Major League relievers in inducing batters to hit ground balls into double plays. He ended up with a 5-2 mark and one save and a 2.32 ERA in 62 innings of work in 66 appearances.

Maness was called up from Triple A Memphis as a relief pitcher by the Cardinals on April 29 to shore up a beleaguered bullpen. He said everything happened so fast.

“I don’t know if I had time in the moment to realize how special it was,” he said. “I was just happy to be there. I would have done handstands or been the mascot just to be there.”

All season, he earned the appreciation of some of the starters.

“He’s a stud,” starting pitcher Joe Kelly said of Maness in September in an interview with Fox Sports Midwest. “I can’t say enough good stuff about him. He’s awesome.”

One of the most difficult moments in the World Series came in Game Four in St. Louis, when Maness gave up a three-run homer in a tie game that allowed the Red Sox to even the series at two games apiece.

“You have to keep it in perspective,” he said. “It is going to happen. It just gets magnified on the big stage. You have to put it behind you quickly.”

Cardinals Manager Mike Matheny expressed confidence in his young reliever after the game.

“This is a guy that we go to, to get us out of tough spots,” Matheny said in the post-game media interview. “And he’s been very, very good. And we’ll use him again in that situation.”

Now the big question for Maness is where he will start the next season. Spring training begins in mid-February. He hopes it will be with the big league team.

“Nothing is guaranteed,” he said.

Pinecrest baseball coach Jeff Hewitt is not surprised by Maness’ success.

“I am so proud to say he is one of ours. Seth not only represents his family, but he also represents every baseball player that has come through Pinecrest that has worked his fanny off. Our program is built on hard work.”

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