The dirt-smudged base leaned on the floor in front of Billy Hamilton's locker. An inscription in black ink noted the importance: ''MLB Debut 9/3/13.''
The speedy outfielder who outran everything in the minors got his first stolen base in the majors on Tuesday night, and it decided a game with playoff implications. Hamilton swiped second and came around on Todd Frazier's double in the seventh inning, sending the Cincinnati Reds to a 1-0 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.
''That's my job -- stealing in important situations,'' said Hamilton, who had brown dirt on both knees from his hard slide into that keepsake base. ''This was a real big situation -- a pennant race.''
Hamilton set a professional record by swiping 155 bases in the minors last year. He got an ovation when he made his big league debut as a pinch runner for Ryan Ludwick, who led off the seventh with a single against Seth Maness (5-2).
As he went onto the field, manager Dusty Baker had a word.