Orioles Card "O" the Day

An intersection of two of my passions: baseball cards and the Baltimore Orioles. Updated daily?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Donell Nixon, 1991 Crown/Coca-Cola All-Time Orioles #331

It's high time for another "Who in the hell?" Oriole. Donell Nixon is the younger, less successful, and less-skeletal-looking brother of speedy outfielder Otis Nixon. Donell (whose first name is actually Robert - Donell is his middle name) was a tenth-round pick of the Mariners in the 1980 draft. Much like his big brother, he was blazingly fast. In 1982 he stole 88 bases in 122 games at Class A Wausau and AA Lynn. The following year he swiped an unreal 144 bags in 135 games at Bakersfield in the Class A California League. The minor league record was set that same year by Vince Coleman, who stole one more base than Nixon. The following year, Donell added 102 stolen bases to his resume at AA Chattanooga. However, his progress was interrupted by a compound fracture in his left leg that cost him all of 1985 and much of the 1986 season.

The 25-year-old outfielder was finally healthy in 1987, and made Seattle's Opening Day roster. He showed good plate discipline, with 7 strikeouts and 10 walks in 55 plate appearances, but couldn't buy a hit. He was optioned to AAA Calgary at the beginning of May with a .130 average and a single run batted in. Undaunted, he hit over .300 in the minors and earned another brief callup in late July, followed  by a third look in September. He performed better in his second and third stints, batting .314 to boost his overall major league average to .250 with 3 homers and 12 RBI. He also stole 21 bases in 46 games.

Donell started the 1988 season at Calgary but joined the Giants' big league roster after a midseason trade. In two seasons as a part-timer in San Francisco, he batted .291 with a home run, 12 RBI, and a less-than-impressive 21-for-32 mark in steals. The Giants released him in April 1990, and the Orioles signed him a week later. Sadly, he had ditched his jheri curls by that time. He spent the whole season at AAA Rochester, save for a two-week cup of coffee with the O's in June. He played eight games with Baltimore, starting six. He was 5-for-20 (.250) with a pair of doubles and a pair of RBI. He also swiped five bases without being caught. His final major league game came on July 1, 1990. True to his reputation, he entered a game against the Twins as a pinch runner for Craig Worthington and stole second base before being stranded.

At the end of the year, Nixon opted for free agency rather than stay on in the minors. He signed with the Indians, and played in the minors with them for three years before hanging up his spikes in 1993.

Let it never be said that you and I don't know the ins and outs of Donell Nixon's baseball career.

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