Growing up a Yankee fan, I had lots of favorites, but in 1995, just prior to opening day, the Yankees made what seemed like a small deal with the Montreal Expos. John Wetteland to the Yankees for Fernando Seguignol plus cash. Little did Yankees fans know, this would be a deal that would lead them to a World Series win the following year.
I had followed John throughout his days with the Dodgers and Expos. At that point in his career he was 28 years old and had 3 solid seasons with the Expos. The previous year, the Yankees had an awful bullpen, topped off with closer Steve Howe (yes that Steve Howe). So when they finally got an ace closer I was excited about the prospects of the team. He came in and had one of the best seasons of his career. Unfortunately the same couldn’t be said about the rest of the Yankees bullpen. In 1996, everything changed for the Yankees.
Mariano Rivera was called up and immediately became the defacto set-up man for Wetteland. The Yankees had their 8th and 9th innings set and went on to win the World Series that year. Wetteland not only won the Rolaids Relief Award, but also was named the World Series MVP saving all four wins for the Yankees. At that point in Yankees history it was known that Mariano would be assuming the closer role. In the 1996 off-season Wetteland signed with the Rangers, where he stayed until he retired after the 2000 season. Finishing with 330 saves and career ERA of 2.93 and WHIP of 1.135. He is currently 11th overall in career saves and 30th in games finished.
After baseball he assumed the role of a bullpen coach for the Nationals and now Mariners. Last weekend there was a report coming out of Texas that he was rushed to the hospital because of depression and suicidal thoughts. A statement was later released that stated he was brought in for “an extremely high heart rate” linked to high blood pressure. Either way it’s been a scary off-season for this once great Yankee closer.
As far as his autographed cards go, there aren’t many of his certified autographs out there. Below is the only one I found on eBay, it runs about $15 or best offer. His rookie cards can be had for the eBay minimum and are considered commons. As far as his place in Yankees history, he provided the anchor that the Yankees needed in order to transform them from a contender to a champion. If you can come across his autograph cheap, it’s a must pick up for any Yankee fan. I hope that John’s health problems subside and he can focus on being a coach again. I truly do hope that the initial reports of him being suicidal were wrong.