Getting cut from his high school baseball team as a freshman eventually drove Greg Litton to Major League Baseball.
Litton spoke the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art “Our Love Affair with Baseball” luncheon Friday. He moved to Pensacola from the Panama Canal Zone to Pensacola at the end of his eighth-grade year.
“As an eight-year-old Little League player, I said I was going to be a Major League baseball player,” he said.
His father, Douglas Litton, was a football and baseball coach in the Canal Zone. He was also a former All-SEC player with Mississippi State during the 1950s. The hardest thing for Litton was telling his father.
“The first words out of his mouth were, ‘We will be ready next year,’” Litton said. “We need to be encouragers. We need to be quick to build people up and not tear them down.”
Being cut from the high school team taught him the difference between having a dream and a goal. Before he was cut, his only dream was becoming a Major League player.
“The difference between a dream and a goal is commitment,” he said.
After being cut, Litton worked hard and made the baseball team as a sophomore. After his junior year, he was named all-city and received walk-on offers from Auburn and Mississippi State. Litton decided to play for Pensacola Junior College. He was later drafted in the first round by the San Francisco Giants in 1984.
Litton played four years with the Giants before closing his career with a season each in Seattle and Boston.
1989 World Series
As a rookie in 1989, the Giants reached the World Series against Oakland. Litton was warming up for Game 3 in the Series when a major earthquake — which caused 63 deaths — struck San Francisco. The double-decked Oakland Nimitz Freeway collapsed and had 3,757 injuries. Litton stood in a doorway underneath Candlestick Stadium when the earthquake struck.
“I thought I was going to die,” said Litton.“It was pitch dark, and I couldn’t move if I wanted to. I thought they would find me about 40 yards from the parking lot.”
Game 3 was postponed for 10 days as California officials worked to clear the earthquake. Litton did not start Game 3, but got in Game 4 when he hit a home run.
“As I jogged into second base, I thought of all the hard work I had done to get there,” he said. “It was worth it.”
Litton was a career utility player. According to Baseball-Reference.com, Litton is the last National League player to play all nine fielding positions in a career, pitching an inning in 1991. During a six year career, he played in 374 games.