Wednesday, January 27, 2010

#367) JEFF MUSSELMAN

Jeff Musselman came to the New York Mets when he was traded along with Mike Brady by the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for the very popular Mookie Wilson on August 1, 1989. The Mets were in the beginnings of a rebuilding process and were honoring a trade request made by the veteran Wilson. In doing so they brought a sorely needed left-handed pitcher to the roster. "I like what I've seen so far." Mets' pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre would say days after the trade, "He's probably better suited for the role we've been looking to fill - that of a leadoff lefty in the bullpen and maybe spot starter - than anyone in awhile. He'll fill a void nicely."

Musselman had more to prove than just his ability to get hitters out when he found his new home with the Mets. In April of 1989, with the permission of the Blue Jays, he had admitted himself into a treatment center for alcohol dependency. A month later he rejoined his team with a new view on life. "Alcoholism is a disease that tells you you do not have a disease," Jeff explained, "and it's so important, obviously, that I remember that I do have it. But the feeling I have now is a wonderful one of relief." Musselman believes that his problems went as far back as his days pitching for Harvard University while he was earning a degree in Economics. "I relied upon it to get me through everything, The alcoholic is blinded," Musselman said, "My drinking was a symptom of other things, fear, anxiety, anger, loneliness." Jeff credits his Christian faith as instrumental in allowing him to continue a life of sobriety today.

During his two years with the Mets his pitching would meet with mixed results. Used exclusively from the bullpen, he made 20 appearances in the final two months of 1989. Posting a record of 3-2 with a 3.08 ERA. The next season was not nearly as kind. After a rough start to the 1990 campaign he was sent to Triple-A Norfolk. He remained in the Tides' starting rotation until being recalled in September. The Mets granted Musselman free agency on December 20, 1990.

It was while pitching with the Tacoma Rainers two years later that his life would encounter another setback. An unexplained heart attack unrelated to his earlier drinking came within moments of ending his life at the age of 29. A blood clot in his right coronary artery was successfully dissolved, but ended his playing career.

Jeff was able to find a way to remain around the game. He became a Vice President with the Scott Boras Corporation taking advantage of both his education and life experiences. In addition to working with Boras in the negotiation of sports contracts he also provides counseling for athletes with alcohol problems. "It's a gift that I like to pass on," Musselman said.

Jeff Musselman signed his card in the set from an autograph request sent to the Boras Corporation office on January 26, 2010.

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