But before Ankiel drilled his 11th-inning homer into the water behind the right-field wall at AT&T Park on Friday night, Atlanta assistant general manager Bruce Manno had a suspicion that the kid he once knew as a disgruntled pitcher would find a way to shine.
"I just felt like if there is anybody that can step into this spotlight and do this, he's the guy that could do it, because that's the way he's always been as a player," Manno said.
Manno was the Cardinals' assistant general manager when Ankiel determined he was done as a pitcher and then accepted the organization's invitation to battle his way through the Minor Leagues as an outfielder.
"A lot of people were asking, 'Can he do this?'" Manno said. "I just said, 'Don't bet against this guy, because this kid can do pretty much anything that he wants to do.'"