Jesse Orosco 1988 Topps Traded – Sully Baseball Card of the Day for March 18, 2017


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The New York Mets have won, as of this writing, two World Series titles. 1969 and 1986 are the two seasons where they rewarded their fans with a parade.

The pitcher who was on the mound for the clinching of the 1969 title was Jerry Koosman.

When the Mets dismantled whatever was left of their great pennant winning teams of 1969 and 1973, Jerry Koosman was dealt to Minnesota. One of the players they got in return was Jesse Orosco, who happened to be the other pitcher who clinched a World Series for the Mets.

The Twins drafted Orosco out of Santa Barbara City College in 1977. He would eventually play for the Twins, but that would have to wait a while.

He made his big league debut with the 1979 Mets. That was also the year I really first started watching baseball. I was 7.

After bouncing around between the Mets and the minors between 1979 and 1981, he established himself as a Major Leaguer in 1982. By 1983, he was an All Star, winning 13 and saving 17 for a rising Mets team. When the Mets became legit contenders in 1984, he continued to be a rock in the bullpen. He saved 31 games and pitched to a 2.59 ERA in his 1984 All Star season.

When the Mets made the post season in 1986, Orosco shone. Winning 3 games in the NLCS, he struck out 10 batters in 8 innings. He pitched on fumes in Game 6, allowing Billy Hatcher’s homer but getting Kevin Bass to strike out and clinch the pennant in the 16th inning.

Against my beloved Red Sox in the World Series, he threw 5 2/3 shutout innings, struckout 6, walked none, recorded 2 saves and added insult to injury by driving in a run in Game 7 just before striking out Marty Barrett to clinch.

I was 14 and devastated.

Orosco was no longer a dominant reliever in 1987 and faced competition from Roger McDowell and Randy Myers for the closer role. After the 1987 season, Orosco was sent packing to Los Angeles, as recorded in this traded series card.

He was used mainly as a set up man in LA and did not fare well against his former team in the NLCS with the Mets. But the Dodgers advanced and while Orosco did not pitch in the World Series, he did get a second ring out of it.

He was 31 years old and looking like he may have a few more years in his arm.

Orosco landed in Cleveland for the 1989 season and had an effective year for a losing squad. After three years with the Tribe, he helped the Brewers contend in 1992 but had an awful 1994 and at age 37, looked cooked.

At age 38, Orosco was in Baltimore in time to see Ripken break Gehrig’s record. That year Orosco pitched in 65 games, usually going only one out per appearance. But he pitched in the most games of any AL hurler that year.

I had graduated from college the year before.

When the Orioles became a playoff team again in 1996 and 1997, Orosco was an effective reliever for the squad, reunited with his Mets manager Davey Johnson.

In 1999, Orosco set the mark for most appearances by a reliever in a career. He was 42 years old and had a poor season with the Orioles that year. It was time to hang them up.

Except in 2000, he made 6 appearances with the Cardinals. He returned to the Dodgers for the 2001 and 2002 seasons and pitched well. In 2003, he resurfaced with the San Diego Padres, but did not fare well.

Midway through the season, he ended up on the Joe Torre Yankees. No doubt more than one Yankee fan thought “Wait, is that the SAME Jesse Orosco?”

He finished the 2003 season and his big league career with the Twins, the first time that signed him.

Remember when Orosco started, I was 7 years old. When he ended, I was 31 years old and about the get married.

Someday I will write up all the Hall of Famers who called Jesse Orosco their teammate.

As it stands, he pitched more games than anyone in history and stretched across a lot of significant miles stones in my life.

And for Met fans, he and the man he was traded for delivered the greatest moments in their teams’s history.

 

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