‘Million Dollar Question’ – What Prospect Did You Tag As ‘That Guy’ But Never Panned Out???
We’ve all had a ‘That Guy’.
The player that you read about that nobody is talking about. Maybe he is a local kid that you have had a little more exposure to than others. Maybe he is someone you were told about by a friend and then you keep hearing his name pop up.
So, from there you invest some time and energy into the player.
You check for box scores of recent activity. You track his success at whatever level he is playing at. You research his baseball cards.
And you keep it all a secret – with the hope that you have identified the next Albert Pujols or Justin Verlander.
We’ve all been there, right??
I know that I have. And it was back in the very, very late 1980’s. I was living in Florida at the time, and my dad and I were putting together a pretty solid baseball card collection. And like most collectors, we too were on the look-out for the next Mattingly, Griffey, or Gooden.
The new 1990 baseball card sets had just been released, and as always, we took interest in the rookies just to see what the next season could bring. All of this was before the internet, and before intensive baseball coverage was found on television.
As with every new season, there are a few rookies that you have heard of and then there was a handful of guys you had never heard of.
And then there was Keith ‘Kiki’ Jones.
‘Kiki’ was getting attention from Sports Illustrated as an 18-year old pitcher on the west coast of Florida. And his legend was growing across the state with each start as he appeared to be following the path of another alumnus from his high school in Tampa,Dwight Gooden.
Well, I invested heavily in Jones. His talent was on-par with the best hurlers going into the draft, and he was taken by the Los Angeles Dodgers with the 15th pick of the 1989 amateur draft.
I scooped as many of his 1990 Score baseball card as I could find. I was buying them up at a pace that I had never attempted before. At card shows, he was my lone goal – I’d buy singles; I’d buy small lots; I’d buy pages – I bought all I could get ahold of.
When it was all said and done, I had between 250-300 cards of card #676 from the 1990 Score baseball card set.
And it never quite worked out – for me or for Jones. Jones had shoulder issues very early in his career forcing him to have surgery. And from there he bounced around from rehab and minor league starts for the four seasons. After bouncing around in the Dodgers farm system for 4 years, Jones compiled a record of 18-15. He then resurfaced five years later to take another stab at baseball success compiling a 5-5 record in 23 games before calling it quits in 2001.
Keith ‘Kiki’ Jones never threw a single pitch in the major leagues. And to think that the #6 prospect in the sport in 1989 had so much to look forward too…
After 20 years, I dumped the cards – literally, dumped them. My dreams for his success and his dreams for major league success never panned out. And my days as a big league prospector never amounted to anything except for a stack of 250 commons.
And now that I have re-lived those very painful memories, it is your turn to open up some old wounds as well. Who is that one guy that you heard of and collected that you thought was going to change the game?? Did he fizzle out in similar fashion or did he excel??
Share your story, now!!