I Was a Teenage Prospector: Wilson Alvarez

Alvarez UD

1990 Upper Deck

Wilson Alvarez was one of those players who, for me, had a reputation that preceded him. I read about him in some magazine back in the day, most likely early 1990, talking about this Rangers kid who was tearing up the minors and had a high upside. I was immediately captivated and wanted a card of him but, unfortunately, they were a little hard to find at the time (read: non-existent, save for minor league issues that were as out of reach for me as the moon).

So I was all ready for him to become a big-time Rangers prospect, and as the team also had Brian Bohanon in the pipeline for a team that had Bobby Witt and Nolan Ryan, I had a good feeling about the future of the Rangers pitching staff. Then, of course, Alvarez got dealt to the White Sox as part of the Sammy Sosa deal (yikes, Texas, just yikes), leaving the 1989 Topps Debut card as the only one depicting him in a Rangers uniform (and this was a good few months before that set came out). As I was somewhat into the Rangers at the time, this was kind of a mood killer, but I still looked forward to this card.

Then, of course, the Upper Deck high numbers were issued. This was becoming an annual treat for me, so I went nuts when I started to see them, pulling Wilson fairly early on and putting him in a plastic case. These days, of course, it’s not worth nearly as much – Alvarez had a decent if not great career – but the picture on the front still evokes memories of that long wait and my excitement pulling him from a pack. I wish sometimes I could go back to that simplicity in collecting, but I’m pretty happy with where I am.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “I Was a Teenage Prospector: Wilson Alvarez

  1. Wow, Wilson Alvarez. His career was longer than I thought it was. He wasn’t all that he was hyped to be but he was a pretty decent major league pitcher.

    But what I’ll never forget is his debut as a Ranger. It was hyped big time (the first pitcher born in the 70’s to pitch an MLB game – ESPN was ESPN even then…)

    And then…against the Blue Jays, reality set in. It was definitely like Archie being yanked from the Choklit Shoppe to the mound in Arlington. And mind you, before 1989 his minor league record was 8-22 (but that 1988 Gastonia teams was dreadful).

    On a 1-2 count, Junior Felix singles.
    On a 1-2 count, Tony Fernandez homers.
    On a 2-2 count, Kelly Gruber homers.
    George Bell walks on a 3-2 count.

    Rattled, Alvarez walks Fred McGriff on four pitches. Bobby Valentine takes pity on the kid, and calls for Cecilio Guante.

    Five days later, Alvarez is traded to the White Sox in the Harold Baines deal (along with Scott Fletcher and Sammy Sosa for Baines and Fred Manrique).

    Some 19-year olds would just freak out – called up – fail – and then rejected and traded in a week. It was good to see Alvarez make it after all.

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