Mickey Weston – 1990 Topps

October 2, 2010

“There Were Way Too Many Cards Per Set In The Junk Wax Era, Vol. 3:”

Hey, they had numbers to fill. So why not make a card for someone who is an organization player / roster filler that pitched a grand total of 13 innings for the Orioles in 1989?

Sidebar: There were 26 teams in 1990. During the regular season, 650 players were active, plus the DL. The base card sets for the major manufacturers (including managers, checklists, all-stars, leaders and other stuff):

Donruss – 716

Fleer – 660

Score – 704

Topps – 792

Upper Deck – 800

The last 2-3 players on each team usually rotated in and out. Obviously some players retired or were released during and after the season. There wasn’t the roster turnover that there is now. So a 792 card set IS a but much, and Upper Deck’s 800 was a precursor to their four digit sets.

Sidebar to the sidebar: If Upper Deck hadn’t lost the license, they probably would have followed that monstrous Yankee Stadium set with one for every ballpark, past and present.

“Hey look, I got May 10, 1884. Altoona’s first win! They beat the Boston Unions 9-4!”

“I got August 15, 1915. The St. Louis Terriers lost to the Peppers at Newark 8-1.”

Weston had outstanding control in the minors. In 1988 for Jackson and Tidewater, he had just 25 walks in 155 innings. He had a 2.09 ERA as well. (Don’t mind the 20 unearned runs…) But the Mets let him go as a six-year free agent and the O’s signed him. Weston could be successful in the bigs if he threw strikes and kept hitters off their stride. Otherwise, big league hitters were going to cream him.

For Rochester in 1989, he was 8-3 with a 2.09 in 23 games, with 14 starts. He only walked 19. But he wasn’t a prospect. Otherwise, the Orioles wouldn’t have sent him down after getting a win, a save and a hold in his first three appearances in June. Plus, Baltimore was in a hot and heavy pennant race.

On August 31, they lost 11-0 to Cleveland and Frank Robinson burned through Schimdt, Thurmond and Holton in that game. That loss forced the Orioles into a tie with Toronto at 72-62. Thankfully, the rosters expanded and Weston was called up.

Sidebar: The starters for the Orioles on August 31 included Stan Jefferson, Joe Orsulak (batting CLEANUP!), Jim Traber, Tim Hulett and Jamie Quirk. Not exactly a championship lineup.

The O’s traveled to Chicago to face the last place White Sox. Bob Milacki toed the slab for the O’s but gave up a first inning grand slam to Daryl Boston. He settled down, giving up just one more run through seven.

Weston came in to start the 8th inning for Baltimore trailing 5-1. A good spot for Mickey to keep ’em close.

He faced eight batters. He got one out on a force play. The other seven batters singled. He was taken out trailing 10-1 and Kevin Hickey saved his ERA from more abuse by inducing a double play.

Ouch.

Weston pitched three more times, all in mop-up roles. He lost Frank Robinson’s confidence with that smattering of singles.

Mickey got another chance in 1990, being called up three times. But he wound up with a 7.71 ERA and gave up 6 home runs in 21 innings.

Baltimore traded him to Toronto in the off-season for the disappointing Paul Kilgus. From there Weston meandered to Philly and back to the Mets, only gathering cups of coffee and maybe a danish at those three major league stops. And then to the minors full-time for Colorado, Detroit and Florida.

Weston had to have pinpoint control and command in the bigs. He didn’t. While he didn’t walk that many (11 in 45 1/3 innings) he gave up a lot of hits (65) and only struck out 19 batters. Opponents slugged .518 against him.

It’s hard not to root for a guy like Mickey. I remember pulling for him. He was a definite underdog and put in a lot of bus time. But he was a definite AAA-pitcher, and that’s the sad but honest truth.

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