Listach was traded to the Yankees from the Brewers in 1996 along with Graeme Lloyd for outfielder Gerald Williams and pitcher Bob Wickman. But the day before the trade, Listach had fouled a ball off his foot. X-rays were negative, but Listach showed up at Yankee Stadium in pain.
"When I walk in, [manager] Joe Torre and Mr. [George] Steinbrenner are there and I introduce myself, and Joe goes, 'How you feeling?' I said, 'I fouled a ball off my foot a couple of days ago, and it still hurts,'" Listach said.
Torre told Listach he wasn't going to play him until he was healthy, but the injury lingered for a few days.
"I'm hobbling around and taking ground balls, taking fly balls and taking batting practice," Listach said. "So after about three days, Joe goes, 'How do you feel now?' And I said it feels worse. He said to get an MRI, so I get an MRI and it shows a break. They send me back to Milwaukee and they got another player and they won the World Series."
Listach finished the season with the Brewers and signed with the Astros in 1997 before retiring. He still wonders how things might have been different had he not fouled the ball off his foot and was able to remain with the Yankees.
"I think going back, if I am here and we do win that World Series, I think maybe I come back here and spend a few more years," he said. "It didn't happen. You play this game to win a world championship, and there it was, right in front of me."
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.