The book: “Seinsoth: The Rough and Tumble Life of a Dodger”
The author: Steven K. Wagner
The vital statistics: Sunbury Press, 200 pages, $29.95, released Nov. 30, 2016
Find it: At Amazon.com, at Barnes and Noble, at Vromans.com, at the publishers’ website
The pitch: “If Bill Seinsoth had lived,” USC baseball coach Rod Dedeaux once said, “there’s a good chance that no one would have ever heard of Steve Garvey.”
Wagner included that quote in a 1991 piece he did for the L.A. Times on the life and times of Seinsoth under the headline, “They’re Left to Wonder What Might Have Been.”
As the Dodgers looked for a first baseman in the early ‘70s to replace Wes Parker, Seinsoth was in the pipeline, the kid from Arcadia High who had one year in at single-A Bakersfield with a bright future.
The 1968 College World Series Most Outstanding Player as a junior at USC, a career. 340 hitter in college with All-American credentials, was 22 when he died in a car accident on Interstate 15 while he was driving to L.A. from Las Vegas.
The Dodgers made him a first-round draft pick in 1969 of the June secondary phase, giving him a $40,000 signing bonus. His father, Bill Sr., had play pro ball in the ‘40s, and his cousin, Tommy Hutton, would also be a Dodgers’ first-base prospect out of Pasadena, signed out of high school in ’64.
So what of Semsoth?
The story belongs to Wagner, who also went to Arcadia High a couple years behind Seinsoth and had a vested, personal goal to have the story told.
Wagner, who in 2015 wrote “Perfect: The Rise and Fall of John Paciorek, Baseball’s Greatest One-Game Wonder,” seems to have the makings of an ESPN documentary by bringing back to light all of what Seinsoth, all 6-foot-2, 220 pounds and swinging from left side, was about and could have become.
In 294 at bats of his only pro season in the Dodgers’ system, he had 10 homers and 37 RBI for Bakersfield with a .276 average. He was inducted into the USC Athletic Hall of Fame in 2005.
Included in the index is a feature story in the Bakersfield Californian on Seinsoth published 15 days before his death, admitting that he was to return to USC in September to attend graduate school in finance.
It would be nice someday if the Dodgers could commemorate the life and times of this player once in their system. Until then, the book creates a foundation for that moment.