Check Out My Cards, and it's a big thrill to finally own it. Why? Because of the relative obscurity of Mike Figga. The guy was a fungible backup catcher, a former 44th-round draft pick who debuted with the Yankees at age 26 in 1997 and played a grand total of 5 games over three seasons with New York before the Orioles claimed him off of waivers in June of 1999. Somehow he became Baltimore's #2 catcher with a bullet, carrying Charles Johnson's water for a total of 41 games (26 starts). He wore my favorite number (13), he had a funny name...and I have no recollection of his appearance in a quarter of all O's games in the 1999 season. I guess I really tuned out baseball in high school. I didn't miss much here: a batting line of .221/.236/.302 with a home run, 5 RBI, and 4 doubles in 91 plate appearances. One would assume that Figga was a real defensive whiz with offensive stats like that, but in 246 innings he threw out 24% of would-be base stealers (7-of-29) and committed 5 errors and a couple of passed balls. There were also 13 wild pitches on #13's watch. By comparison, starter Charles Johnson had as many errors in his 1,093 innings caught, and also gunned down 38% of opposing runners.
Mike Figga never played in the major leagues again after 1999, but kicked around the minors through the 2004 season. After age 30, he spent most of his time in the independent leagues, wearing the uniforms of teams like the Puebla Pericos and the Lincoln Saltdogs.
But for three months, he was a Baltimore Oriole. That's all the incentive I need to add his card to my sprawling collection.