Before I got back into collecting, my last foray into cards was between 1997-2000. Back then I had no idea what to collect as the number of sets got absolutely massive. So I just want with card designs and Bowman had always caught my eye. Plus who can turn down prospecting. So I went out and got a box of 1999 Bowman Chrome, one of the cards I got was this one:
Of course being a Yankee fan I had to go out and find more info about this guy. Little did I know I was holding a gem of a card. I went down to the flea market as I did every weekend and started sorting through the cards there. I noticed the same card I had was sitting inside a glass case, so I asked how much and he wanted $50. I asked him, “Why is this guy so special?” and the dealer said that he was signed as a 16 year old and was supposed to be the second coming of Babe Ruth.
When I hear second coming of . . . I run for the hills, the next week I went back and traded him the card for a 1978 Eddie Murray rookie and a 1971 Steve Garvey Rookie. However I did follow his career, and even got his autograph when he was in Louisville. One thing I noticed right away is that although his power was there, the average was not, I pegged him as a 3rd or 4th option in the outfield.
He was traded by the Yanks to the Reds as part of the Drew Henson deal, and as a Red he was that 4th outfielder for a few years. Although you would have thought he was a starter, I guess that happens when you backed up Ken Griffey Jr, Austin Kearns and Adam Dunn. You just get to play in a lot of games thanks to the injury bug. He has since been traded to the Red Sox and the Nationals. Never really breaking out of that fourth outfielder mold.
It’s hard to believe that he is only 29 as he seems to have been in the league forever. He is now with the Diamondbacks and since being called up a few weeks ago after a 2 and a half year absence from the majors, he has hit the long ball, 5 homers in 40 at bats. Sure he is only batting 0.200 and still never walks, but what do you expect from a guy that plays sparingly? He is the kind of hitter that needs repretitions and if he is not an everyday starter, you will never see the big numbers out of him.
As for his cards, yeah that card I got two superstar rookie cards for, is dollar bin fodder. I have since picked up another one through ebay, only paying $1 for it including shipping. I like the card, he has a look on his face like, he is going to be a terror in the majors. It’s just too bad he never lived up to the hype. His autographed cards can be had for $2-4, but why bother, as he is probably one of the best autograph signers in baseball. He signs for everyone, and is a fantastic through the mail signer. I guess in the end I just wish Wily Mo the best of luck, and hope that the second half of his career is better to him than the first.