I don't believe Omar Vizquel belongs in the Hall of Fame. He was not, despite what you might have read over at your second- or third-favorite website, just as good as Ozzie Smith. Vizquel wasn't quite the hitter Ozzie was, and he wasn't nearly the fielder.
Still, a lot of baseball writers really want to reward Omar Vizquel for what has been, we must allow, a pretty fantastic career. At 40, Vizquel was still playing shortstop every day. At 43, he was still serving as a moderately useful utility infielder. At 44, he was still drawing a major-league salary.
Which is why Vizquel was my first nominee for the Wing of Amazing ... a place for players who have done amazing things, but probably will never be elected to the Hall of Fame (or shouldn't be). Later, I nominated three more players: Jamie Moyer, Jim Abbott, and -- in the last piece I ever wrote for ESPN.com -- Bo Jackson.*
* By the way, I'm grateful to ESPN.com for not yanking my blog posts upon my departure. I know nothing lasts forever, but I'm glad they're still there for a least a while longer.
There are other players we might nominate, on the heels of those guys. If Bo Jackson, why not Deion Sanders? If Jim Abbott, why not Pete Gray? If Omar Vizquel, why not Julio Franco? If Jamie Moyer, why not ... actually, there's nobody like Moyer. Unless you want to count spitballers and knuckleballers. Anyway, my point is that there are some obvious nominees, considering who's already been nominated.
But that's too easy. Today I would like to introduce you to left-handed pitcher Terry Mulholland.
Now, Mulholland pitched in the major leagues when he was 43. That's somewhat amazing in itself, but not nearly amazing enough for a place in the Wing of Amazing, since of course there have been a fair number of 43-year-old pitchers.*
* Including 15 left-handers, none of whom were knuckleball pitchers, and most of whom were, like Mulholland, relief pitchers at that point.
Over the course of 20 seasons, Mulholland pitched for 11 different franchises, but again that's not quite amazing enough; when Octavio Dotel throws his first pitch for the Tigers this spring, he'll set a new record by playing for his 13th team.
Mulholland's general performance was far from amazing: 124-142 in his career, with a 4.41 ERA.
There was something amazing about Terry Mulholland, though ... You could not run against him.
As a rookie in 1986, Mulholland gave up six stolen bases in just 55 innings. Nothing special there. In his next four seasons, as he established himself as a starter with the Phillies, Mulholland became exceptionally difficult to run on. But not impossible.
That happened in 1992.
In 1992, Mulholland pitched 229 innings. He gave up two steals. Five guys were caught trying to steal. And Mulholland picked off 15 more.
He would never rack up anything like 15 pickoffs in another season, presumably because the baserunners realized that taking more than a step or two off the base was likely to result in a sudden and embarrassing fate.
That was 1992. From 1993 through the end of his career in 2006, Mulholland pitched 1,718 innings. Which is roughly the equivalent of eight full seasons for a starting pitcher. Over that span, Mulholland gave up 12 stolen bases. Thirty-one runners were caught trying, and Mulholland picked off 27 more.
Terry Mulholland did not enjoy an amazing career (though it was certainly unusual). But there was something amazing about Terry Mulholland, and so he's got my support for the Wing of Amazing.
Rob Neyer is soliciting more nominations for WING OF AMAZING, so please add yours in the comments.