Apr 6, 2023

Heisenberg The Olympic Hero

Ticket Information Poster
West Palm Beach Expos (1993)
In my research for previous posts on Municipal Stadium and the Expos beloved mascot, Willie P. Bananas, I found this poster for sale on eBay and added it to my collection.  It was used by the West Palm Beach Expos to promote ticket sales for the 1993 season, which was an especially challenging year for the team.  The Florida Marlins played their first season in '93, and it became a lot harder to draw fans to see the old Single A minor league team with a new and exciting Major League expansion team just an hour down the road at Joe Robbie Stadium.

1993 Classic Best - Card #32

This poster features left handed pitcher BJ Wallace, who had autographed it 30 years ago for the person who sold it to me.  He was featured heavily in the team's promotional material that season, and it's easy to understand why.  Wallace was the Montreal Expos first round draft pick and the #3 overall pick of the 1992 MLB Draft.  To put his draft position into perspective, Derek Jeter was taken by the Yankees as the #6 overall pick in the same year.

1992 Topps Traded - Card #126 T

Prior to being drafted, Wallace had put up incredible numbers at Mississippi State University.  He also pitched for Team USA in the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona where he set an Olympic record by striking out 14 batters in a game against Team Italy.
1993 Bowman - Card #676

Wallace went on to pitch for the West Palm Beach Expos in 1993 and was promoted to the Harrisburg Senators in 1994, and he had a combined 12-11 record with a 3.64 ERA in his first two years of professional baseball.

top left:  Tampa Tribune  (March 18, 1996)
bottom left:  Miami Herald  (February 15, 1996)
right:  Orlando Sentinel  (June 16, 1996)

Not every top prospect lives up to the promise that the team saw in them on draft day, and that was the case for Wallace.  A rotator cuff injury brought an end to his 1994 season after only eight starts.  He missed the entire 1995 season and was acquired by the Philadelphia Phillies in the Rule 5 Draft prior to the start of the 1996 season.  By this point in his career, the former first round draft pick dropped the initials and began to use the name Billy Wallace.  He spent the 1996 season pitching for the Clearwater Phillies, but was never able to bounce back from his injuries.  He appeared in 15 games for the Phillies Single A team and finished the season with a 3-4 record and a 5.83 ERA.

The Red Sox signed Wallace prior to the 1997 season, but they released him before the end of Spring Training and he retired from the sport without ever reaching the Major Leagues.  That's a pretty hard luck story, but it didn't end there.

I tried to find a photo or a baseball card of BJ Wallace (or Billy Wallace) in a Phillies uniform, but I wasn't able to find one.  While searching for it, I stumbled across a 2011 article from the Press Register that the former pitcher was arrested for operating a meth lab.

This is where the trail grew cold in my research.  I'm not sure what happened as a result of these charges, but all Breaking Bad references aside, I hope the man has gotten through the rough patches and that he's living a good and happy life.  It can't be easy to get that close to your dream only to see it slip away.