Goodbye, Mike Mussina

November 21, 2008 at 11:48 pm | Posted in Baseball | 1 Comment

It was with sadness that I learned that Mike Mussina retired earlier this week.  He walked away from the game after one of his best seasons, finally winning 20 games during the last season of his career.  It’s not often that athletes retire while at the top of their game.  Many hang on too long, and years later the struggles that they had at the end of their careers tarnish their legacies.  Yes, David Cone, I’m talking about you!

Mike Mussina was a player that I always liked, even though he was an Oriole who always pitched well against the Yankees when I was a Yankees fan, and then a Yankee who always pitched well against the Rays when I was a Rays fan.  He always seemed like one of the truly nice guys in baseball, and he was consistently a great pitcher during his entire career.  I think he’s a borderline Hall of Famer.  He finishes with 270 wins and a 3.68 ERA (I was surprised to see that it was that high).  He never won a Cy Young Award, but he was one of the best pitchers in the American League for 17 years.  I think that he’ll get in, but after a few years on the ballot.

I was lucky that I got to see Mike Mussina pitch at the very beginning of his professional career.  He was a first round pick of the Orioles in 1990, and he reached Triple-A Rochester, where I grew up, that same year.  He made 2 starts for the Red Wings in 1990 and 19 starts in 1991 before he was called up to the majors and never looked back.  Mussina was actually overshadowed by Ben McDonald when he was in Rochester.  McDonald was the #1 overall pick in the 1989 draft, and everyone thought that he’d be a future ace.  There was always a mob of kids at the old Silver Stadium waiting to get his autograph.  I remember that McDonald seemed to have a cocky attitude and seemed annoyed by the attention from the fans.  Mussina, on the other hand, was far less hyped, but much friendlier to the fans.

Mussina’s retirement prompted me to look for an old photo album that I filled with autographs in the early 1990s.  In those days, I went to a ton of Red Wings games and got autographs from players on notebook paper.  When I’d get home, I’d cut the autograph from the notebook paper and put it in my album.  I had pages in my album for almost all of the teams in the International League.  It was either 1992 or 1993 when I first started getting autographs on baseball cards. Anyway, here’s the page in my album with Mike Mussina’s autograph.  He’s right in the center of the page:

p1010626

Surprisingly, everyone on this page reached the major leagues.  Johnny Oates managed the Orioles and Dick Bosman was his pitching coach.  The other players on this page are Brady Anderson, Leo Gomez, Ben McDonald, Chris Hoiles, Jeff Tackett, Arthur Rhodes, Jack Voigt, Tim Hulett, Mark Williamson, John O’Donoghue, Jeffrey Hammonds, and Mark Parent.  Now that I think about it, I might have purposely filled this page with players who reached the big leagues.

I also looked for my old Red Wings baseball cards, but I couldn’t find them in my attic.  So you’ll have to settle for this image that I found online.  I’m pretty sure that I have this card somewhere:

mussina_rochester

Goodbye, Mike Mussina.  You’ll be missed!

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1 Comment »

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  1. Very Nice Post. A contributor to my blog wrote a nice little tribute to Mussina. Check it out: http://www.ontheblack.com/2008/11/20/good-guys-get-rewarded/


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