Position: Relief Pitcher
Number(s): 41 and 38
Years Played As an Angel: 1987-1988
Angels’ Stats: 8-11, 4.06 ERA, 155.1 IP, 147 K’s
Career Stats: 9-11, 4.23 ERA, 172.1 IP, 157 K’s
How He Was Acquired: Signed with the San Francisco Giants as a free agent in 1977.
Why You Should Know Him: De Wayne Allison Buice at the age of 29 made his major league debut for the California Angels in 1987 on April 25th after the team signed him as a free agent in 1986. Buice went on to to pitch in 57 games for the California Angels, leading the club with 17 saves. In 2007, his best season in his short 3-year career in the big leagues, Buice went 6-7, a 3.39 ERA and fanned 109 batters in 114 innings pitched, against 40 walks. His 109 strikeouts that season was a franchise best until Francisco Rodriguez struck out 123 out of the pen during the 2004 season. Buice had a 88-92 MPH fastball and a devastating forkball when kept down in the zone.
Buice was also one of the original managing partners of the Upper Deck trading cards company, a position he held from 1988 to 2000. As the story is told, Buice was in downtown Yorba Linda, California one evening in November 1987, looking for a particular Chinese restaurant in the area, and after looking around the neighborhood without success, he went into a baseball card shop called “The Upper Deck” to ask the person working there if they knew the whereabouts of the restaurant.
After Buice Major League career was over in 1989, he collected $2.8 million dollars for his stake in the Upper Deck Baseball card company. Buice felt he wasn’t being paid fairly so he battled the Upper Deck executives in court and reportedly won seventeen million in the lawsuit.
‘The Buice Payment’ by Darren Rovell – ESPN.com
Even if he wasn’t a household name to the average baseball fan, employees at Upper Deck in Carlsbad, Calif., cringed at hearing his name. And for anyone who looked at the company’s finances, it would be impossible to avoid him.
“Every month on the profit-and-loss statement, ‘The Buice Payment’ was a line item wedged under gross sales and returns,” said a former executive with Upper Deck, who worked with the company for 10 years.
The company was originally scheduled to pay Buice his millions over a four-year period, but due to the baseball strike in 1994, which temporarily destroyed Upper Deck’s business, Buice agreed to a six-year payment plan.
“When the business wasn’t good in 1995 and 1996 because of the lasting impact of the strike, we’d make sure to sell inventory out of the back door in order to help pay off Buice,” the executive said. “Sales were down so much that for those couple years all our profits were going to him.”
On the day in 1998 that Upper Deck cut its last check to Buice, there was a party at company headquarters and the top brass ordered everyone to work just a half day. Later that year at the Christmas party, Upper Deck CEO Richard McWilliam told employees that the company’s deal with Buice was the worst deal it had ever done.
Memorable Moments/Games: Buice is one of six pitchers in the Angels’ 48-year history to strike out at least 100 batters in a season without starting a game (109 in 1987). The others are Mark Clear (105, 1980), Bryan Harvey (101, 1991), Troy Percival (100, 1996), Scot Shields (109, 2004) and Francisco Rodríguez (123, 2004).
Anecdotes and Quotes: “I still eat Corn Flakes and Top Ramen, so it’s not the money,” Buice said. “Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want anybody taking it away from me. But one thing about playing in the minors until I was 30 was that I got to know who I was and I don’t feel I have to change.”. De Wayne Buice earned $27 million from a 12% stake in the Upper Deck company, which was far more than he earned as a major league ball player.
Where is He Now?: Buice final game in the big leagues was on June 27, 1989 as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays. De Wayne Buice is currently the Reno Astros’ co-owner.