Top 100: Seth Greisinger, McLean baseball, 1993

Top 100: Seth Greisinger, McLean baseball, 1993

Greisinger ended a 33-year district title drought for McLean baseball before going to UVA, Olympics, and pro baseball.

The Koreans never forgot the name Seth Greisinger. But, neither did anyone else that Greisinger, a right-handed pitching sensation out of McLean, threw against in his career. In the 1996 Olympics, Greisinger held Korea's bats to seven hits and two runs to push the United States to a 7-2 victory and one step closer to an eventual bronze medal. Greisinger, who was drafted in the seventh round of Major League Baseball's first-year player draft as just a 17-year-old senior at McLean High School, is currently playing baseball in Korea.

"I'm getting to the age where I don't want to be a AAA pitcher anymore," said the 31-year-old Greisinger, who has spent time between the minor league and major league levels of the game. "I wanted to start the second part of my life and wanted to do something else."

After turning down the Koreans several times, Greisinger — the No. 6 overall pick in the Major League Baseball draft (1996) — finally gave in and asked the Atlanta Braves for his release.

"They made him an offer he couldn't refuse," said his father George, who lives in Falls Church. "When he got over there, they let him know that they never forgot him."

Currently two players he pitched against in the Olympics are his teammates, and management made sure to rib him a bit before he signed his contract.

"They brought that up when they signed me," said Greisinger. "It was a shock to me that they remembered. It was such a long time ago."

IT HAS ALSO been quite a while since Greisinger who, at 6-foot-3 and 175 pounds, brought a district title to McLean in 1993. It was not unusual to see 10 pro scouts at any of the pitcher's games during a senior year in which he carried McLean to a 13-8 record and its first Great Falls District Championship since 1960, breaking a 33-year drought.

Greisinger, who tallied a 4-3 record and 1.10 earned run average as a senior, was a strikeout machine that often left his teammates bored on the field.

"We used to have to tell our players they had to run five feet after every strikeout just to keep them moving," said Greisinger's high school coach Tim Gordon, now the Director of Student Activities at Fairfax High School. "To keep them in the game."

Greisinger was also a switch-hitter in high school.

"What people wouldn't know now is that he was a very good hitter," said Gordon. "He was a switch-hitter. We didn't like him to hit left-handed because that would expose his right arm."

With his right arm, Greisinger completely baffled Northern Region opponents in 1993, striking out 16 batters in each of three games and had an epic performance against regional powerhouse Madison when he tallied 14 strikeouts, 11 in a row starting in the top of the fourth inning. It was no surprise that he was drafted in the 1993 draft by Cleveland in the seventh round and it was no surprise that the negotiations that started on June 9 did not go anywhere.

"Throughout his life, he has expressed good judgment," said George. "Although we were present at all the negotiations, we pretty much let him handle the decision."

Instead, Greisinger took a partial scholarship to the University of Virginia.

"It was a much more difficult situation at the time than I thought it should have been looking back," said Greisinger. "I don't think at the time I realized how important college was. The decision came down to the fact that I wasn't ready to start a real life, to start a job and the responsibilities of that job, and also the fact that in my mind, if I was going to make it to the major leagues, I was going to make it whatever path I chose."

GREISINGER'S POINT was that he could be dominant at any level. The dominant Northern Region strike out machine continued his winning ways at UVA helping the Cavaliers to the school's third NCAA Regional appearance. He became UVA's all-time career leader in strikeouts (290) and pitching victories (21). After his three year career at UVA ended in 1996, Greisinger left as the MVP of the ACC baseball tournament, an ABCA First-Team All-American, a Collegiate Baseball All-American and second all-time in innings pitched at UVA (282.1). He still holds the single-season record for innings pitched (123) and for single-season victories after compiling a 12-2 record in 1996. In 2002, ACC Commissioner John Swofford announced that Greisinger had been selected as part of the 52-member ACC 50th Anniversary team.

In 1996, Greisinger was selected sixth overall in the MLB draft, making his choice to steer away from Cleveland's six-figure offer just three years before, the right decision. He signed a multi-million dollar deal with the Detroit Tigers and posted an 8-3 major league record (5.51 ERA) over his 7-year MLB career with stops in Detroit, Minnesota and Atlanta. He showed no signs of slowing before leaving for Korea, as he posted a 3.01 ERA and 4-7 record in the minors en route to a selection in the Class AAA All-Star game.

"When I first realized that there was something real here was when he went to UVA and he pitched against North Carolina State," said George. "The coach at North Carolina State, he was an assistant coach on the Olympic team and he asked Seth to tryout for the Olympic team and he made that team. That's when I thought we got the real thing."

GREISINGER WAS THE real deal from an early age. His records still stand on the boards at his home-town swimming pool, Kent Gardens. He swam all four years of high school while also leading the Highlanders to moderate success and eventually the school's first district title in 33 years. McLean lost to West Springfield in the region quarterfinals at Robinson. Greisinger was on the mound battling against the Spartans' L.J. Yankosky who recorded a 6-1 record as a senior and was also drafted that year (18th round, Minnesota). McLean lost a 2-0 decision to Yankosky and the Spartans. Despite being drafted at an early age, Greisinger never changed his attitude.

"He's a very modest guy," said George. "He has that kind of John Wayne personality. He's very modest."

That modesty and humility led Greisinger to think about life after baseball at an early age. When he left UVA, he left behind several classes in UVA's McIntire school of commerce — an exclusive business school which admits only the top applicants. Greisinger, who was adamant about finishing his schooling, was sent text books and work books while he was on the road in the minors and completed his work before returning to Charlottesville after the season was over to put the finishing touches on his course work. His professor made that arrangement on only one condition, if Greisinger would pitch to him.

Using, the good judgment that his father always said he had, Greisinger said he let his professor hit a bucket of balls. After this season in Korea, Greisinger will again try to walk away from the team. They keep sweetening the offer to keep him abroad, where he also enjoys traveling.

"I love the team. I love the guys. The culture is unbelievable, it's certainly a lot of fun," said Greisinger.

Seth Greisinger is 27 in a survey of the area's Top 100 Athletes by Connection Newspapers in 2000.