Mark “Dutch” Weems, Ralph “Mickey” Scott and Wayne Garland
They were supposed to be the Baltimore Orioles pitchers of the future. Of the three Orioles pitchers seen here at spring training in March 1972, only one would have success in the major leagues.
Mark “Dutch” Weems (left) never made it to the majors and was out of organized ball in 1973 at the age of 22 after posting a 24-19 record in five minor league seasons. Ralph “Mickey” Scott (center – throwing) bounced round the majors from 1972 -1977 appearing in 133 games and compiling a 8-7 record. He passed away at the age of 64 in 2011.
The star of this group was Wayne Garland (right), the Orioles the fifth overall pick in the first round of the 1969 (June secondary) amateur baseball draft.
The Orioles took a chance by drafting Garland who had declined previous chances to play. The Pittsburgh Pirates chose Garland in the fifth round of the 1968 amateur draft but he did not sign with them. The St. Louis Cardinals then made him the first overall pick in the (January secondary) 1969 draft, but once again Garland did not sign.
Wayne Garland had six nondescript seasons in the minors and majors until 1976 when he went 20-7 with a 2.67 ERA for the Orioles. He was paid $23,000 that season and became a free agent in the off season.
It was the beginning of the free agency era in baseball and Garland became one of the highest paid players in the majors when he signed with the Cleveland Indians for $2.3 million for 10 years.
At the time I thought it was bizarre to give any player a ten year contract. As Ira Berkow of New York Times pointed out, “Many baseball people wondered how the Indians could pay so much for a player with only one good major league season. They are still wondering.”
In his first season with Cleveland in 1977, Garland started 38 games and completed 21 of them, throwing over 282 innings but going just 13-19 tying for the American League lead in losses. It turned out for the whole season he had pitched with a sore arm. In 1978, he underwent surgery for a torn rotator cuff in his pitching shoulder. During his five years in Cleveland, Garland went 28-48.
While attempting a comeback with the Yankees minor league AA affiliate in Nashville in 1982, Garland said in a New York Times interview, “I wasn’t worth the money, no one is. But if they are willing to pay it, I’m willing to take it. What was rough was when I’d be on the mound and guys in the stands would be using the most abusive language you can imagine, and my wife and three kids are there having to hear it.”
Wayne Garland never made it back to the majors and finished his big league career at age 30 in 1981 with a 55-66 record.