Before I even knew what I wanted to do with my life I was a fan of this guy. Even seeing this 1986 Topps Traded card of him brings a smile to my face. For a good decade I was one of Wally’s biggest fans. As Mario collects Jose Canseco, I used to collect Wally Joyner cards. This one was the first I ever owned.
In 1986 I didn’t follow the minor leagues like I do today, instead I poured over every box score I could get my hands on. 1986 was magical because of the influx of young talent that came in all at once. You had Joyner, Canseco, Cory Snyder, Danny Tartabull, Ruben Sierra, Barry Bonds, Will Clark, Kevin Mitchell, John Kruk, and Barry Larkin. It’s no wonder the late 80s were known as the junk wax era, with so much young talent and so many collectors it was bound to happen.
There wasn’t a day I could let get by without looking up the stats of Wally Joyner. That year Wally went on to hit 0.290/22/100 for an Angles team that made it to the ALCS but lost to Boston. From that point on I was hooked. In 1987 he came back with an even better season when he hit 0.285/34/117. It was official at that point I was going to devote my collection to Wally Joyner.
We all know how his career fared after those two magnificent seasons. He never again hit more than 21 homers or 96 RBI. He became a more refined hitter, one that went from providing the fireworks, to setting the fuse. He focused more on average and defense than power. He became the team leader for each team he was on (Royals, Padres, Braves and Angels). He was also a fan favorite at every stop the Angels made.
Throughout his career he amassed 2060 hits, 204 homers and 1106 RBI. He also hit more than 400 doubles (409). On his list of similar players are some very recognizable names. Guys like Hal McRae, Keith Henandez, Cecil Cooper, Don Mattingly, Dusty Baker and Ken Singleton. His career may have slowly went down statistically speaking after his second year, but not his popularity.
Recently he resigned as the hitting coach for the San Diego Padres, and has moved his family back to Utah where he played his college baseball. In 2007 he admitted in a Sports Illustraded article that he had tried steroids towards the end of his careeron advice from Ken Caminiti. He tooke the first three pills then decided it wasn’t right and stopped. Even those allegations didn’t tarnish his image. To this day he remains as one of my all time favorite players.
If you go over to eBay you will find that he does have some autograph cards and game used and they are actually fairly inexpensive. I got one of his autographed cards for a mere $1.50 with free shipping. The game used cards are also around a dollar. Not a bad price to pay for your former childhood hero’s autograph.
What were your feelings toward Wally Joyner?