This annotated week in baseball history: Sept. 23-29, 1969

Although my knowledge is severely weakened come September call-up time, I’m pretty good about knowing most players on most teams. There are a handful that trip me up (like, say, the Pittsburgh Pirates) but usually I’ll know a name if only from having considered them for my middle-of-the-pack fantasy squad.

Even with this knowledge, there are some guys whose appearances never fail to amaze me. That’s David Weathers. When I was at the Cubs game, Weathers came out to attempt to the close the game for the Reds, and I took a photo (below) just to have a record. My friend—also a baseball fan, but of a more casual variety—had to be convinced that it was, in fact, the same David Weathers who once pitched for the Yankees.

image

(Incidentally, Weathers blew the save—his first in nearly two months—by giving up three runs without recording an out. Sorry about that, Dave.)

Mind you, I’m not making fun of Weathers. If anything, I’m impressed. Despite his being around forever, Weathers is pitching pretty well this year, in the top 10 in the NL in saves and with a decent ERA.

Weathers is also one of those strange players whose greatest moments in baseball coincide entirely with my memories of him, but we’ll get to those later.

Weathers’ professional career started in the 1988 draft when he was taken by the Blue Jays in the third round (other notables from that round: Marquis Grissom, Scott Servais and Darren
Oliver
). He was assigned to Single-A ball.

Weathers was still a starter at this point. He started all but five of his career minor league appearances prior to his first call-up. That call-up came in August 1991 when Weathers was brought to the Blue Jays straight from Double-A. He’d had a strong season in Double-A (10-7, 2.45), convincing the Jays to bring him up.

Weathers saw very limited action for the Jays, and even less action in close games—the Jays were down by three or more runs in six of Weathers’ 14 appearances that year—but did manage to earn the first win of his career in his last appearance of the season.

1992 was a step back for Weathers: he pitched only three and a third innings in the majors, giving up three runs in his time. The minors were little better, as Weathers went 1-4 with a 4.66 during his first year at Triple-A. Due to this performance, the Blue Jays left Weathers unprotected in that winter’s expansion draft and he was snapped up by the Marlins.

Weathers righted the ship in ’93, putting up a 3.83 ERA at Triple-A Edmonton in 22 games, all starts. He also saw time with the Marlins that year, throwing a few shy of 50 innings with an underwhelming 5.12 ERA.

Despite that last number, the Marlins inserted Weathers into their rotation for the 1994 and he would spend the entire strike-shortened season there, leading the team in wins, innings, and walk rate, but also in hits, earned runs allowed and losses. Weathers began to move away from his starter’s role in 1995, as he spent most of the season with the big club, while starting just over half his games.

In 1996 it appeared to be more of the same for Weathers as he moved more towards the bullpen with the Marlins, starting just eight of his 31 games. Notably, although he posted a 6.32 ERA as a starter, it was more than two runs lower when coming out of the bullpen.

Perhaps inspired by those numbers, Yankees general manager Bob Watson, looking to shore up the “bridge” to Mariano Rivera and John Wetteland acquired Weathers in exchange for 6-foot-6 Australian righthander Mark Hutton. The trade was an instant disaster. Rather than pitching from the bullpen, the Yankees needed Weathers to start. Weathers made four starts for the team and went 0-2 with a 14.81 ERA, twice failing to make it out of the second inning.

Weathers was sent down to Triple-A Columbus and would not appear again for the Yankees until mid-September. In a sign of things to come, Weathers made seven appearances, all out of the bullpen, and allowed just one run.

In the postseason, the Yankees won their first World Series since 1978 and Weathers had his greatest glory. After pitching two innings in a loss in game one of the ALDS, Weathers entered game four with the Yankees down by a run. With two inherited runners and none out, he was facing Juan Gonzalez, who murdered the Yankees to the tune of 1.901 OPS in the series. Weathers won the battle, however, striking out Gonzalez.

Will Clark then hit into a double play and Weathers proceeded to throw three scoreless innings, allowing only a single. By the time he turned the game over to Rivera, the Yankees owned a 5-4 lead. Weathers would earn another victory in game four of the ALCS over Baltimore. Weathers would go winless in the World Series—and allow his first run of the postseason—but the Yankees triumphed regardless and earned him a World Series ring.

After his performance at the end of the season and in the playoffs the Yankees perhaps had high hopes for Weathers but it wasn’t to be. After accumulating an ERA of exactly 10.00 in 10 appearances Weathers was returned to the minor leagues. He threw 37 solid innings at Columbus, earning interest from the Indians, who acquired him in early June.

Leaving New York began the journeyman portion of Weathers’ career, as he played for (deep breath) the Indians, Reds, Brewers, Cubs, Mets, Astros and Marlins all varying degrees of effectiveness after leaving New York.

Signing with the Reds after the 2004 season Weathers apparently found a home, filling in for others as the team’s closer in 2005 and ’06 (leading the team in saves both years) and, as I mentioned above, has taken over the role this year.

Weathers is under contract with the Reds for next season, giving him a good chance at earning 100 career saves and likely pushing his career earnings up to nearly $20 million. All pretty good for a guy I still sometimes can’t believe is still in the league.

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