Rick Waits did a lot of waiting in his time with the Cleveland Indians.
As a starter in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Waits bided his time between his turns on the bump.
Later, as a reliever, he waited to get that bullpen call.
And, in 1978, when he was in his prime, Waits stood as the Tribe’s best hurler … and he waited for the rest of the team to show up.
They rarely did, finishing 69-90 and in sixth place in the old American League East division, ahead of only the second-year Toronto Blue Jays.
Waits showed up in full force on the last day of the season, though, and so did his teammates. Rolling into Yankee Stadium on October 1, Cleveland had a chance to get the postseason rolling by just losing to the Yankees.
Find 1979 Topps Rick Waits on eBay (affiliate link)
Find 1979 Topps Rick Waits on Amazon (affiliate link)
They had other ideas, however.
The Indians jumped out to a 2-0 lead on an Andre Thornton home run in the first … but then Waits gave up two of his own in the bottom of the frame.
From there, it was all Indians, though, as they reeled off another seven runs, while Waits held the Bombers to just five hits total, and no more runs.
The 9-2 loss dropped the Yanks into a tie for the AL East title and set up a one-game playoff against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.
He had to head home … to wait for the outcome of the Yanks-BoSox game like the rest of the world, and to wait for another season to start, so he could take the mound for another moribund Indians team.
In between then (October) and then (Opening Day), Topps issued the 1979 Waits card you see above, the one that shows him looking in toward the plate and — you got it — waiting for the sign (albeit in a posed shot).
Truth be told, that ’79 Tribe team was respectable at 81-80, but they finished in sixth place, and Waits would have to keep waiting for any playoff glory of his own.
Things looked promising in 1983, when the Indians traded him to the defending division champs, the Milwaukee Brewers, in June. But that 1982 Brew Crew magic was gone, and Waits never got out of the second division in a career that wrapped in 1985.
Waits pitched for the Triple-A Vancouver Canadians in 1986, waiting for one last call to the Majors that never came.