Orioles In Spring Training – 1972

Mark “Dutch” Weems, Ralph “Mickey” Scott and Wayne Garland

Mark Weems Ralph Scott Wayne Garland March 1972

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.

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2 thoughts on “Orioles In Spring Training – 1972

  1. Mike Comeau

    The rest of the story:

    Pitcher Mark Weems (occasionally known as “Dutch”) was a reliever with some promise whose life was cut short at age 22 before he ever got to pitch in the majors.

    The Baltimore Orioles drafted Weems in the 5th round of the 1969 Amateur Draft (113th overall). In March 1973, the Baltimore Sun wrote, “Within less than four years, Mark Weems has gone from a 5-foot-10. 155-pound high school graduate with no confidence to a powerful 6-foot-1, 195-pound right-hander who is certain he can pitch in the Major Leagues.” Weems could throw hard — he struck out 8.9 batters per 9 innings pitched during his career. He was also rather wild, though, with a BB/9 ratio of 5.0.

    Weems started his professional career in 1969 with the Northern League Aberdeen Pheasants, where he went 0-3 with a 8.49 earned run average in 35 innings pitched. In 1970, he pitched in relief for the Stockton Ports in the California League, where his ERA improved to 1.87 in 82 innings pitched. He struck out 113 batters that year.

    Weems spent most of 1971 and 1972 at Double-A, though he also got to Triple-A Rochester for parts of both years. He led the Southern League with 22 saves for Asheville in 1972. He was 4-2 with a 2.96 ERA, striking out 74 men in 70 innings, though he also walked 43.

    Weems remained with Rochester for all of 1973, compiling a 9-7 record in 39 games. He had four saves and a 3.91 earned run average, striking out 57 – and walking 57 too – in 91 innings pitched. His main role was long relief, though he also started five games. On August 14th, in the nightcap of a doubleheader at Toledo, he pitched a one-hitter. The only safety he allowed was a single by Jerry Manuel leading off the third inning.

    Following the 1973 season, he was added to the Baltimore roster. That September, the Sun had written, “Sometime in the near future, the Orioles are going to have to put Rochester farmhands Mark Weems and Dave Johnson in the parent club’s bullpen and tell them: “Okay, let’s see what you can do.”

    With a fair shot at winning a job in the O’s 1974 pen, Weems was assigned to the Venezuelan Winter League. With Magallanes, he was leading the league with 11 saves in 26 appearances (2-1, 3.29 ERA). He had struck out 34 men in 38 1/3 innings, though his control remained a concern, with 33 walks.

    On New Year’s Day 1974, there was a break in the schedule. Several of the Navigators who were friends from the Baltimore system – Don Hood, Wayne Garland, and Bob Bailor as well as Weems – went to the beach at Patanemo Bay near Puerto Cabello, about 94 miles west of Caracas. Weems, an experienced swimmer and surfer, fell victim to a strong undertow while body surfing and drowned. Indeed, the whole team had been warned about the dangers of this particular cove. For three days, the friends of Weems – also including Ray Miller, then a player-coach for Rochester – searched for the body so the young man’s family could take it back home for burial.

    The death of Weems prompted Miller to quit playing and start teaching, as he told author Thomas Boswell. “It made me realize how fragile life really is,” Bailor told Canadian journalist Earl McRae.

    1. B.P. Post author

      Well that was quite sobering. I had never heard of Weems and just merely looked at his record on baseball-reference.com without looking further into him.

      Thank you for taking the time to provide this interesting and sad story of a promising career cut short.


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