Mike Lansing: Giving ’93 Finest a Second Miami Team

Pictured below is one of the two cards in 1993 Finest that are considered to be true rookie cards. Lansing would play his first MLB game that year, but the most interesting part of this card relates to how he made his way into the Expos lineup.

A very unusual team name appears in Lansing’s draft info

Mike Lansing entered professional baseball in the 1990 MLB Amateur Draft, the same one that brought Chipper Jones to the Atlanta Braves with the first overall pick. Player selection proceeded in a normal manner after Atlanta’s pick, with another future Hall of Famer (Mike Mussina) joining a team and a high profile bust (Todd Van Poppel) going to the A’s. The rhythm was broken in the fourth round when a long-forgotten team showed up to claim a player.

An independent AA-level minor league team from Miami surprised participants by selecting a standout outfielder who had previously declined two prior draft selections to attend Stanford University. The Miami Miracle then proceeded to grab additional players at every opportunity, ultimately selecting 16 players in what would become the largest draft in MLB history. Minor league teams had long had access to the draft, but rarely used this power as most teams were already affiliated with a major league club and players were reluctant to sign outside of MLB teams.

They’re having a better fucking draft than the Mets!

Unknown participant caught on an open mic referring to the Miami Miracle during the 1990 MLB draft

The Miracle’s appearance in the draft was unexpected but not surprising given the team’s backing and newly installed front office. During the previous year the team had been sold to an ownership group that included some unconventional personalities, headlined by comedian Bill Murray. One of ownership’s first decisions was to install Mike Veeck as team president. Veeck and his father have a long history of utilizing marketing stunts such as Disco Demolition Night to bring in fans. Stacking an independent team with potential MLB talent made sense in such a light and could potentially pay off financially if other clubs purchased their contracts.

Mike Lansing was one of the 15 players that ultimately signed with Miami. Many had not heard of the team prior to the draft, though its lengthy history and an excellent alumni class (e.g. Cal Ripken, Eddie Murray, Jim Palmer) showed a roadmap to the majors. He made his mark with excellent baserunning, stealing 46 bases for Miami in 1992 and prompting Montreal to pick up his contract. Lansing was put into the Expos’ lineup after starting second baseman Delino Deshields contracted chicken pox.

Lansing’s career was largely uneventful. His speed didn’t translate as well at the MLB level though he was still a stolen base threat. While not known as a power hitter, he did set a record by hitting for the cycle in only four innings during a blowout Colorado win. Statistically he was not a standout, an observation that bites harder considering he is named in the Mitchell report as a customer of disgraced trainer Kirk Radomski.

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