What’s Better Than a 5th Grade Teacher? One That Played for the Mariners

That’s right, kids in a Connecticut elementary school find themselves learning math from the the winning pitcher of Nolan Ryan’s final game. Dave Fleming and Randy Johnson were the bright spots in the Seattle Mariners’ pitching rotation going into the 1993 season. Fleming was just coming off an impressive ’92 campaign in which more than a quarter of Seattle’s wins were attributed to him (17 of 64). Hitters were baffled by off-speed pitches, particularly a 60mph version of his curveball. Success didn’t quite continue as he developed arm trouble in 1993. Injuries and labor unrest limited his appearances in 1994 and 1995 before a torn rotator cuff shut him down. After baseball he found a second career in helping aspiring little leaguers on the field and eventually expanded his repertoire to their classroom.

1992 turned out to represent the bulk of Fleming’s MLB success, accounting for more than 80% of his wins above replacement.

Adding Dave Fleming to the Refractor Set

I found a Dave Fleming refractor after a few months of looking, placed a bid on eBay, and awaited my prize. What arrived was a card that lacked the visual pop of the rest of the set. It had fallen victim to excess exposure to UV light, washing out much of the color. Collectors refer to this as “hulking” due to the green skin tone that results in player pictures. This was accompanied by a handful of minor blemishes that were not detectable in pictures I had seen. Whatever. I still had a a very difficult card to track down and was one closer to completing the set.

Hulked version (left) compared to a nicer copy (right)

Last month I purchased a handful of refractors with PSA-pedigrees attesting to their condition. The seller had a Fleming refractor available, gleaming with eye appeal as the blue and gold of a Seattle uniform meshed with the rainbow effect of the card’s coating. I added the card to my purchase and am pleased with the result. I know these are a bit tough to locate so I will be releasing the hulked version back into the wild for another collector to enjoy. Perhaps Mr. Fleming would like to explain to his class how UV light can damage cardboard.

My new Fleming card