Thursday, August 4, 2011


Vance Wilson came to the New York Mets when he was selected in the 44th round of the free agent draft on June 3, 1993. He made his major league debut as a member of the Mets on April 24, 1999. Vance would prove to become a very valuable back-up catcher to a club that had Mike Piazza in the starting role. Wilson filled in admirably during times he would spell the future Hall of Famer. He possessed a strong throwing arm, and an ability to throw out opposing base stealers. So he was often inserted into the later innings as a defensive replacement.

"I was excited to help our team, especially when our big guy is out." Vance once explained. He possessed a knack of excelling in both a starting and reserve position. A balance achieved through an understanding that they were indeed different. "When you sometimes go 8 to 10 days at a time without playing, you can't worry about putting together any big numbers," Wilson said. "So I just try to have a quality at-bat every time I go up there and let the situation dictate what I'm trying to do — move a runner, drive a ball, hit a sacrifice fly."

When asked, Vance cites his first major-league start as a favorite memory of Shea Stadium. He began the game behind the plate as the Mets faced the Chicago Cubs on July 4th, 2001. Wilson would call a fine game and contribute two hits, including a double, in the 2-1 New York victory.

The Mets traded Vance to the Detroit Tigers in exchange for Anderson Hernandez on January 6, 2005.

Following his playing career, Wilson has begun teaching the game to future major-leaguers as a minor-league manager. Vance joined the Single-A Kane County Cougars in 2011. "I was never into the college thing, where you deal with parents and stuff like that, and I didn't want to do scouting." Wilson said. "I wanted to be able to fix kids and make them better. This was the perfect fit."

Vance Wilson signed his card in the set for me before the Kane County Cougars faced the South Bend Silver Hawks at Coveleski Stadium on July 23, 2011. Adding the date of his first major-league start.

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