In this week’s edition of Mariner’s Throwback Thursday, we’re taking a look back on the career of Mariners catcher, Dan Wilson a.k.a Dan “The Man” Wilson.
Back in 2002, Safeway stores were giving out little Mariners pin/baseball card sets at the checkout stands. I remember this fondly because at the time, living in a rural Eastern Oregon town, it was one of the few connections I had with the team. I relished every opportunity I had to go to the store with my mom and find out which Mariners player we would get at check out. One of my favorite pins that we got was Mariners catcher Dan Wilson.
Dan Wilson’s Impact on Mariners Franchise
Dan “The Man” will be one of those Mariners players fans will love forever, due to his lifelong commitment to the franchise. After spending nearly the entirety of his career behind the dish in Seattle, Wilson became part of the broadcast team, filling in as the color commentator from time to time. Every fan likes to believe all players have the same love and commitment to their team as the fanbase does, so it’s hard not to love and appreciate a guy like Wilson who continues to be engaged with the team, even 15 years after his retirement.
Dan Wilson’s career with the Mariners spanned 12 seasons, including one All-Star nod in 1996. While his career WAR wasn’t spectacular (1.6 avg/season), his impact on the team went far deeper than the accolades he has to show for it.
As we are witnessing now with these current Mariners, it can be hard to find a catcher that isn’t either a liability at the plate or defensively. It’s also tough to find someone who has the durability to suit up for 75% of the games. Wilson filled all of these roles admirably and made sure Mariner’s brass could focus on other positions when filling out the roster.
Not only was he a capable everyday backstop for a long time, but he also played a significant part on each of the teams that the Mariners sent to the playoffs between ’95-’01. If the Mariners are going to be players on the big stage again during this era, finding a capable catcher or catching platoon is going to be a huge key to their success.
While it’s hard to keep from looking ahead at this current rendition of the Mariners, sometimes it is important for us as fans to look back and appreciate the “good old days.” Besides, without Wilson’s club of the ’90s and early ’00s, we might not even have a team. Here’s a look at a couple of memorable moments from Dan the Man’s Mariner career.
Dan Wilson Hits Inside-the-Park Homerun
While any inside the parker is going to require a few good bounces, the Detroit outfield gifted the Mariners backstop with this one when both outfielders went for the out rather than one setting up for the potential rebound off the wall. Wilson said “thanks” and never stopped running.
Wilson’s Walk-Off Double vs. the Brew Crew
The Man capped off a 4-RBI night in July of 1996 with this walk-off double against the Brewers to give Seattle the 8-7 win.
Wilson Picks off Manny Ramirez at 2nd
Had to include at least one defensive highlight in here! After all, he is one of the best defensive catchers we have seen. In 1994, Manny Ramirez was a spry 21-year-old rookie. Wilson had to put him in his place when he got a little cocky between 2nd and 3rd and guns him down from home plate.
Dan Wilson is the walking embodiment of what an MLB franchise looks for in a catcher. A great leader who could command the infield, call a great game from behind the plate and produce as a hitter when he was needed. As the Mariners push toward the payoff of this rebuild, I’m sure Dipoto would love to have someone as committed and competent as Dan “The Man” to fill the #2 spot in the infield.