Neal Heaton – 1989 Topps

October 21, 2010

Better Than I Thought, Still Not Good

You never drafted him, did you?

Whether you played APBA, Strat-O-Matic, or Rotiss in the 80’s, you stayed away from Neal Heaton.

Many times, it was warranted. He pitched for Cleveland, when Cleveland was awful without hope. (As opposed to this year, when they were awful but had young players with hope.) Even if Heaton was victimized by poor run support, poor defense, and lethargy, you didn’t want him on your team.

But he wasn’t that bad.

He had a great pedigree, coming out of the University of Miami, and didn’t spend much time in the minors. Of course, he was in the Cleveland organization which could have used any pitcher that could actually get major league hitters out on occasion.

And Neal could get guys out, on occasion. But not often enough.

He was moved to Minnesota first, and then traded  to the Expos that netted the Twins Jeff Reardon.

But freed from Cleveland, he didn’t do so hot in Montreal. Cool leg kick and all, he was 3-10 with a 4.99 ERA in 1988. So Montreal sent him to Pittsburgh for a warm body.

There he seemed to find himself. He was a valuable swingman in 1989, and in 1990 had a great start. On June 24, he was 10-2 with a 2.89 ERA. He was named to the All-Star Team.

But by the end of 1990, he was out of the rotation. He collapsed to a 12-9, 3.45 slate. After June 24, he had a 4.30 ERA, and with the Pirates back in the pennant race he was put in the bullpen. He didn’t appear in the playoffs. He was in the pen in 1991, and then traded for Kirk Gibson.

He was out of the majors by 1993.

I never really remembered Heaton as an Expo (until I got this card again this year), and not as a Pirate. He was always an Indian to me. An Indian during one of the awful eras of the Indians, and kind of the poster child of the bad Indians.

But he wasn’t THAT bad.

And, as you can see, he wore his stirrups the RIGHT way. So there’s that then!





One Response to “Neal Heaton – 1989 Topps”

  1. […] or never going to be a championship winning pitcher (Scott Bailes, Ken Schrom, Don Schulze, Neal Heaton) and guys that never fulfilled their potential (Greg Swindell, Brian Oelkers, Jose […]

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