Mickey Tettleton

There is an entire oriole in his cheek.

Why we like him: Any kid who likes baseball even a little bit has, at some point, impersonated all the goofiest hitting stances he's ever seen.  We've all looked like idiots portraying Craig Counsell, Tony Batista, and Chuck Knoblauch.  We've pulled hamstrings pretending to be Jeff Bagwell or Moises Alou.  But anybody with the ability to stand, hold a bat, and look completely indifferent could look like Mickey Tettleton.

He always just stood there motionless in the box with a massive hunk o' chaw in his cheek and bat hanging lifelessly at a shallow angle to the ground.  Pitchers didn't know if he was ready to hit, daydreaming, trying to strikeout, or dead.  Then as the pitcher made his delivery to the seemingly dumbfounded Tettleton, his weight would rock back, his hands would get back and ready, he'd step, and swing as if he was trying to kill a charging rhinoceros. Most of the time, if he made an offer at it, he'd hit it.  Sometimes, it would even disappear over the Tiger Stadium roof.

Tettleton spent 14 seasons in the majors with the A's, Orioles, Tigers, and Rangers and wore a different number with each team, oddly enough.  He spent most of his career behind the plate before natural wear and tear forced him to take up roles in the outfield and and first base, which is common for any catcher who probably swallows gallons of tobacco juice every day and has very few decent teeth left.  He was a two-time All Star in 1989 and 1994, and his patience helped him rack up 949 walks for his career.  Though not a very good defensive catcher, he was certainly one of the best power-hitting catchers of his era too, amassing 245 home runs at a time when a catcher hitting 25 home runs in a season was compared to Johnny Bench.

I think any kid who saw Tettleton play has to remember him fondly.  He was a true dirtbag who just oozed baseball and Red Man juice.  You probably would too if you stuck an entire acre of Amazon rainforest in your cheek every inning.  Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to grab a broom, stand like Mickey, and swing for the roof in Detroit in the driveway.

Ladies and gentlemen, Mickey Tettleton, Ballplayer.

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