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Prospect waits for a chance

Steve Livesey has a hunch he'll be receiving a telegram in the next few days, one very similar to the one he received five years ago. Livesey was a senior at Springstead High in 1986 when the New York Yankees made him one of their late-round selections in Major League Baseball's amateur player draft.

"It came as a surprise," Livesey said.

Major knee surgery, minor shoulder surgery and a college degree later, Livesey feels his name might come up again in this year's draft, which begins Monday.

If it does, Livesey has reason to believe he knows which team will be sending the telegram.

"It will probably have to be the Yankees," he said.

Livesey acknowledges that most major league teams probably won't be willing to take a chance on a surgically mended, 22-year-old history major who plays third base.

The Yankees, though, are another story.

Besides being drafted by New York out of high school, Livesey has spent much of the past two years rehabilitating his injuries and working out at the Yankees' minor-league complex in Tampa.

Furthermore, Steve's older brother, 25-year-old Jeff, was drafted by the Yankees in 1988 after his four-year career at Auburn University. He is a catcher for their Class AA affiliate in Albany, N.Y.

And to top it off, Steve's father, Bill Livesey, is the Yankees' scouting coordinator.

"It's kind of awkward," Steve said of the possibility that his father's employer will draft him, "but I like the chance anyway. You never know what can happen once you get the chance."

Baseball, it seems, is in the Livesey family's blood.

"It just kind of happened that way. They were around it so much they couldn't help it," Louisa Livesey, Bill's wife, said of her sons' love for the game.

Livesey is serious about chasing his dream.

If the Yankees opt not to take a shot on him, he says he'll hit the tryout-camp circuit hoping to find somebody who will.

"I've got to think I've got a chance to get to the big leagues," he said. "You've got to think that way. I'm not just looking to play a summer just to say I played professional baseball.

"If it doesn't happen, at least I have a college degree to fall back on. So I'm not feeling the pressure like some guys are, but I'd much rather get drafted and get started on a professional career than try to catch on with somebody."

"I'm sure he'll get a chance," said his former high school coach at Springstead, Chuck Moehle. "Like his brother, Jeff, has told me, "Whether I make it or not, I want to be able to take a look at myself in the mirror and say I gave it a shot.' Steve's the same way."

Steve Livesey lived with his family in St. Petersburg when Bill was the head baseball coach at Eckerd College. Bill joined the Yankees as a scout about 12 years ago and moved the family to New Jersey, where Jeff Livesey graduated from high school.

Steve also played at Lakeland Regional High School in Wanaque, N.J., but in the middle of his senior year the family moved back to Florida.

Bill still worked for the Yankees, but he no longer needed to work out of the club's offices up north. The move brought the family to Spring Hill, where Steve joined the Springstead baseball team.

"He knew the game when he got to Springstead," Moehle said.

Steve Livesey played shortstop and earned all-Gulf Coast Conference recognition on a Springstead club that also featured another pro prospect, current San Diego Padres minor-leaguer J.D. Noland. The Eagles started that season 5-0 and were ranked sixth in the state, but without pitching depth they faded to a 13-12 record.

"He hit the ball hard, had about five or six home runs and about 20 RBI, and he still holds the school record with a 15-game hitting streak," Moehle said of Livesey. "He was the most competitive kid I've ever coached."

Despite being drafted by the Yankees, though, Livesey knew it was not wise to sign a pro contract then.

Livesey signed with Davidson (N.C) College, an NCAA Division I member. He saw considerable action as a freshman and sophomore, then became a regular starter his junior season.

But in the fall of 1989, in what would have been his senior year, Livesey decided to chase another of his dreams: college football.

About halfway through the season, playing defensive end in a game against Methodist (N.C.) College, Livesey tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee.

Despite the injury, which required extensive reconstructive surgery, Livesey does not regret his fling with football.

"It was fun," he said. "I had to get it out of my system."

Even if he does not get the opportunity to prove himself in the minor leagues, Livesey does not plan on leaving behind the family's favorite sport. Maybe he'll coach, or perhaps even become a scout.

"When it's all done," he said, "I'd still like to be doing something in baseball."