10 Facts About John Wehner
Are you familiar with John Wehner? Didn't think so. Unless you're from the Pittsburgh area, chances are you've never heard of him. He was added to the Pirates' broadcast booth in 2005, and his work has been, well...if you ever wanted to listen to some guy from Carrick (Wehner's hometown, a Pittsburgh suburb) announce a Pirate game, then Wehner is right up your alley.
While watching a Pirates broadcast recently, I decided to do some digging and see what kind of career Wehner actually finished up with. What I found was both shocking and amazing, sad and inspiring at the same time.
Here are 10 facts you may not know about John Wehner:
1. In 11 major league seasons, John Wehner had only 804 plate appearances, approximately once every other game.
2. He was released four times (Pirates '96, Dodgers '97, Marlins '97, Pirates '01)
3. He was signed by the Pirates on five seperate occasions (1988, 1999, 2000, January 2001, August 2001)
4. He earned a little more than $1.5 million dollars in his career. Remarkable for a player with so many years of experience.
5. He appeared in the playoffs twice. With the 1992 Pirates, he struck out in both at bats. With the 1997 Marlins, he was brought into one game as a defensive replacement.
6. He has played every position except pitcher at least 3 times
7. He bears a striking resemblance to Steelers Coach Bill Cowher
8. He hit the last home run in Three Rivers Stadium.
9. He also made the final out in the stadium, as the team was rallying against the Cubs and he popped out.
10. His years of perserverence paid off in 1997. After signing with the Florida Marlins in March to reunite with former Pirates manager Jim Leyland, he actually won a World Series ring with the fish.
Useful information? Not really. But I found all of this somewhat fascinating. For a player to be so apparently mediocre, the odds of them sticking around in some kind of major league capacity for 11 years is pretty slim. It's apparent that Wehner had two major fans: the Pirates and Jim Leyland. Outside of those decision makers, there didn't appear to be very much interest from other teams around the league. Wehner was always the 25th or 26th man on a 25-man roster, which meant the constant shuffling from the minors to the show. He hung around by the skin of his teeth for more than a decade. The money factor kind of floored me; I thought he would have made at least half a mil once or twice. But the most he ever banked was $375K with the Buccos in 2001. I think he could make more than that as a professional Cowher impersonator.