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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Jim Vatcher, Not the Bat Boy - 243

Jim Vatcher's favorite baseball player as a teen, according to Sports Illustrated, was Dale Murphy. And now, in August 1990, not only might he meet him, there was a good chance they'd be teammates.

Except, he ultimately had to settle for something else, the trade that sent Murphy to Philadelphia, also sent Vatcher the other way, to Atlanta.

"Pretty ironic," Vatcher told SI after the August 1990 deal. "I even got his locker."

Vatcher debuted with Philadelphia on May 30, 1990, less than two months after playing his first AAA game at Scranton. He ended up playing parts of three seasons in the majors, but it was a major league career that some thought might not happen, despite a breakout college career at Cal State Northridge.

At 5 feet, 8 inches tall, Vatcher did everything well with, according to the Los Angeles Times, the constant caveat "for a little guy."

"I've heard all the jokes about being short," Vatcher told The Times in May 1987. "Ever since I can remember, outfielders always moved in when I came up to the plate. I'd hear the comments like, 'Who's this? The bat boy?'

"But, I'd lick my chops when I saw them move in. It has worked out well. I don't hear too many jokes anymore."

(Apparently even card manufacturer Score couldn't believe his height, listing it in 1991 as 6'9", instead of 5'9")

In the draft, the next month, Vatcher lasted until the 20th round, taken by the Phillies. He made AA Reading in 1989, becoming one half of the R-Phils' "dynamic duo," according to the Reading Eagle. The other half was Mickey Morandini.

Vatcher played 21 games for the Braves in 1990, the next year, he was taken off waivers by the Padres. He played 17 games in San Diego in 1991, 13 more in 1992 and his major league career was done.

Vatcher hung on in AAA through 1995. In 1994, the outfielder tried his hand at pitching, filling in for a tired Norfolk staff for an inning, his team down 10-4. He didn't give up a run and, with 10 runs scored by the Tides in the next frame, Vatcher recorded the win.

He went on to play 1996 with the independent Northern League team in Madison and he was done. These days, Vatcher is dispensing baseball knowledge with the California outfit Jaeger Sports.
1990 CMC Tally
Cards Reviewed: 74/880 - 8.4%
Made the Majors: 44 - 59%
Never Made the Majors: 30 - 41%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 16
10+ Seasons in the Minors: 23

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