1993 Finest: Mike Stanton

The Mike Stanton portrayed in the 1993 Finest set is neither the first or last to bear that name in the majors. The first was a strikeout artist selected as a first-round draft pick by the Astros in the 1970s. Yankees’ slugger Giancarlo Stanton is the player formerly known as Mike.

Mike (the middle one) has a couple of oddities marking his career. He is one of five pitchers appearing in the 1993 Finest checklist that managed to strike out four batters in an inning. In 2004 Stanton faced off against the Milwaukee Brewers. After setting down the first batter he faced, he threw a wild pitch to Scott Podsednik. Podsednik swung at the ball and took off for first when he realized the ball had sailed by the catcher. Mets catcher Vance Wilson, who had just entered the game at the beginning of the inning, found his throw to first blocked by the on-deck hitter. Score sheets recorded this as the second strikeout of the inning, though the official number of outs remained at one and Podsednik was safely at first base. The following two batters quickly went down on strikes, giving Stanton a total of four for the inning.

Stanton was primarily a middle reliever and setup man, giving him the opportunity to appear in an insane number of games. He entered 1,178 contests as a pitcher across 19 seasons, finishing second in the record books for most career appearances behind Jesse Orosco. He had the same length career as Mario Rivera (1,115 appearances), meaning Stanton was called in to put out fires more often than the most famous reliever of all time.

At Least It’s Shiny

I now have a Mike Stanton refractor, which I guess is kind of good. A lot of the photographic color seems washed out on this one, akin to the “hulking” effect that plagues so many refractors from the era. After having looked at every single example of Stanton’s card offered for sale for a year, I came to the conclusion that the photo colors are muted on all of them. The card isn’t broken, just ugly. Topps was just figuring out how to work with chromium printing. Given the midseason release of the cards, I wonder just how much time the company gave its staff to proof designs and swap out suboptimal photos.