Where are they now? Vance Wilson | The Golden Sombrero Baseball Blog | MLB, Fantasy, College & High School Baseball News

Where are they now? Vance Wilson

That's me - amazed in the summer of 2006 that I had just netted the autograph of my all-time favorite backup catcher: Vance Wilson.

Backup Catcher Edition

What has Vance Wilson been up to in his post playing days?

Vance Wilson now manages the Kane County Cougars.

Even for baseball fans of the hardest core,  that’s a seldom-asked question. Why would anyone ask about the former Met and Tiger catcher, forever a backup, who never played in more than 96 games in any of his eight years as a player?

But I had to smile today when I discovered that Wilson has stayed in baseball, now as manager of the Kane County Cougars (Low-A, Kansas City Royals).  (Though I was disappointed in myself for failing to realize I was in his midst at a Cougars game in May.) Because for reasons I still don’t completely understand, Wilson was my all-time favorite player.

Maybe it was because he was the true unsung hero on his teams. Not just a under-appreciated catcher, but an unheralded backup catcher. He could come into games late and produce results – a hard-to-do task after a full day sitting on the bench.

Though his sporadic playing time rarely allowed him to get into a rhythm, he had a solid .250 career batting average, and he threw out a whopping 40 percent of would-be base-stealers. That’s awesome.

But even better, the guy I inexplicably called “Vance the Pants,” provided me with one of my all-time favorite baseball memories.

On a sunny summer day before a Tigers-White Sox game in 2006, Wilson was signing autographs down the left field line. I ventured down a few rows at Comerica Park to see if Wilson would sign the Paul Konerko foul ball I had gloved during batting practice.

There wasn’t much of a crowd around Wilson, so the task was easy. I handed him the ball and, emboldened by what seemed like a once in a lifetime chance to chat, said: “Vance, this is going to sound really weird, but you’re my favorite player.”

“Kid, you’ve got problems,” Wilson said, handing me back a newly-inked baseball that had just become a prized possession.

1 Comment

  1. Mike Rosenbaum says:

    Don Kelly sounds like a randomly generated white guy name.

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