CONCORD, N.C. – A little more than two seasons into his Major League Baseball career, former Northwest Cabarrus High School standout Corey Seager has experienced levels of success most players never see.
There was being chosen to play in the 2016 All-Star Game. There was competing in the Home Run Derby that same weekend, which was accentuated by the fact that Seager’s father, Jeff, pitched to him before a national TV audience. Seager’s 2016 season then was capped by being named the National League Rookie of the Year.
Now, it’s 2017, and the 23-year-old Seager is enjoying perhaps the greatest team honor in the sport: playing in the World Series.
A star shortstop for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Seager was in the lineup Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium for Game 1 of the World Series against the Houston Astros.
It is believed that Seager is the second Cabarrus County product to play in a World Series, joining late Concord native Billy Goodman, a Winecoff High School grad who played in the Fall Classic for the Chicago White Sox in 1959.
Seager’s parents, Jeff and Jody, flew out to Los Angeles on Tuesday morning to have plenty of time to attend Game 1, which was slated for 8:09 p.m. and broadcast on FOX. Game 2 is Wednesday and also will air on FOX at 8:09 p.m.
Much of the Seager clan, including Corey’s brothers Kyle and Justin, was expected to be in attendance during the Series. Kyle Seager is a highly regarded third baseman for the Seattle Mariners, while Justin Seager is a first baseman in the minor leagues. Jody Seager told the Independent Tribune that Kyle and Justin will attend games in Houston starting this weekend.
Although he wasn’t able to make the trip to the West Coast, Joe Hubbard, who coached the Seagers at Northwest Cabarrus and in American Legion ball for Kannapolis Post 115, reveled in the fact that Corey Seager was getting to play in the Fall Classic.
“It’s great for the county to have a kid succeeding at the pinnacle of his sport,” Hubbard said. “I know we have other kids that are in the NBA and the NFL and Kyle, his brother, playing in the major leagues. But playing in the showcase event, I think, is pretty special.”
This year’s game marks the first time since 1970 that the World Series has featured two teams that won 100 games or more. The Dodgers went 104-58, and the Astros are 101-61.
In 145 games this season, Seager has batted .295 with 22 home runs and 77 RBIs, and his career average is a hearty .305. Seager missed this year’s National League Championship Series with a lower back strain and endured an extensive rehabilitation process to be eligible to play in the Series. The Dodgers announced he had been added to their World Series roster on Monday.
Hubbard said he’s accustomed to seeing Seager work for what he wants, especially with a World Series roster spot on the line.
“Just being with Corey and watching him grow up, even through the stint when he was a middle-schooler watching Kyle play and watching the work ethic he has, you can’t be anything but proud of the kid,” Hubbard said. “It’s nice to see him accomplish these things after watching him work toward what he wants all through the years.”
Hubbard and his three sons went to Atlanta during the regular season this year to visit with Seager and watch him play when the Dodgers faced the Braves in a three-game series. The Hubbards got to watch Seager and his teammates during batting practice and also spend some time with him before and after games.
Hubbard said he hasn’t had much contact with Seager now that he’s been cleared to play in the biggest baseball games of his life.
“Every now and then, I shoot him a text and wish him good luck,” Hubbard said. “I know everybody is doing those same things, so you don’t want to bother him too much. You know he has a job to do.
“But it’s exciting to talk with him through a text or a conversation and turn the TV on that night, and there he is playing on TV. It’s kind of a surreal feeling.”
Hubbard said he knows the young man he coached for so many years is embracing the opportunity to play in the World Series. But he also knows Seager is keeping things in perspective.
“Obviously, I think he’s excited just to have the opportunity, especially after the last situations that occurred with his back and being able to make the roster and be healthy enough to play,” Hubbard said. “But Corey is that even-keeled kid. He never got too high or too low in anything that he did. He just went out there, he knew he had a job to do, and he did it the best he possibly could.