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?

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4 responses »

  1. Ricardo says:

    Well, when I started collecting in 1987 one of the things I did was read the back of the cards thoroughly(stats, trivia, etc) and Wally was the only one(that I had) that shared my birthday so I started following him. I never collected him individually but every time I saw an Angels game I would root for them.

  2. Chris C. says:

    I have an old California Angels pennet signed by Wally Joyner, Johnie Ray, and Lance Parish from 1989. They signed it for me because I told them it was my 10th birthday. Them giving me my 1st autographs turn me into a baseball fan. I got another auto from Joyner when he played for the Padres. I hope Wally gives you an auto soon!! Joyner is a great guy!

  3. PunkRockPaint says:

    Far and away the most accurate arm I have ever seen from a 1st baseman. In his years with the Padres, I never saw a pitcher have to break stride accepting his throws to first.

    I was lucky enough to get one of his cracked bats and have him sign it. It holds a special place in my collection. He may never get in the baseball hall of fame, but if they ever start a hall of fame for great people, he is in on the first ballot.

  4. ToddUncommon says:

    I would think that a Joyner collector’s Holy Grail would be a 1988 Upper Deck prototype promo card.

    I’ve always generally liked Joyner. I have a collection of 1987 Angels autographs a friend of the family got for me when I was a kid. They were visiting the Kingdome, and he had clubhouse access for some reason; don’t recall why. He came back with over twenty autos, including Joyner and an eerie psycho-scribble from a post-1986 ALCS (and of course pre-suicide) Donnie Moore.

    It is interesting that Joyner tried PEDs at one point, even if they didn’t “take”. I see an odd dichotomy between Mormon teetotalism with things like alcohol, caffeine, or tobacco on the one hand, and the rise of the wild-west dietary supplement racket, often centered out of Utah, ot the other.

    Sen. Orrin Hatch’s Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA) created a free-for-all in supplements, both legitimate and shady, that helped enable the steroids era that even Wally apparently dabbled in.

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