Friday, August 13, 2010
2000 Upper Deck Pros and Prospects Future Forces Matt Riley
Who is this? former Baltimore Orioles pitcher Matt Riley
What is this? An autographed insert card from 2000 Upper Deck Pros and Prospects
Where'd I get it? Riley signed it for me after a game between the York Revolution and Newark Bears earlier this year.
How much did it cost? About 50 cents.
Why is this so special? Riley was a third-round selection by the Baltimore Orioles in 1997. He dominated the minor leagues and made his major league debut in 1999. For two years, he was ranked as the best prospect in the Orioles' farm system.
Then came Tommy John surgery, and Riley had to battle back. He returned to the majors in 2003 for a while, long enough to earn his first major league victory. He had a longer opportunity in 2004, but struggled. In 2005, Baltimore traded Riley to the Texas Rangers for another future Atlantic Leaguer, infielder Ramon Nivar. Later that year, Riley had a second Tommy John operation. During his comeback, he required a third surgery.
This season, Riley pitched for the York Revolution in the independent Atlantic League. He was working out of the bullpen during the series when I got this card signed. He came in to the game in the seventh inning, with his team down 7-5 and runners on first and third with nobody out. Riley got two ground outs before surrendering a game-tying single to Daryle Ward. He struck out Carl Everett to end the inning, and he was done for the evening. The Revolution came back to win the game 8-7 in the ninth inning.
What surprised me was that Riley stayed in the dugout until the end of the game - pitchers generally head for the locker room once they come out of the game, and they rarely return to the field. It surprised me more that he was willing to stop and sign my card after the game. I wouldn't want to decipher his autograph, but his handwriting doesn't seem bad for a left-hander.
Riley was placed on the inactive list at the end of July. It's possible that his baseball career is coming to an end.