Robbie Wine made his Major League debut for the Houston Astros on September 9, 1986, just in time to help them put the finishing touches on a National League West division title.
He did that by collecting three hits in 12 at-bats and scoring couple of runs.
That performance wasn’t enough to land the eighth overall pick in the 1983 draft a spot on the ‘Stros 1987 squad, though, and he opened that season back in the minors.
Houston called up the soon-to-be 25-year-old catcher in July, though, and kept him through August. He managed just a .103 average in 29 ABs over 13 games … which got him September off.
All was not lost, though, as the Astros gave Wine another shot, bringing him in to relieve Troy Afenir behind the plate after Alan Ashby had pinch-hit for the starter (Afenir). That was in the eight inning of a game-161 victory against the Reds, and Wine caught that final frame.
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And then, in March of 1988, Houston traded Wine across the state to the Rangers for reliever Mike Loynd.
Seemed the Astros had a young guy named Craig Biggio just about ready for the bigs, and they thought he was going to be their next catcher. Maybe even some sort of star.
By that time, though, all the card companies had immortalized Wine as a part of the 1987 Astros in their 1988 cards sets … Donruss, Fleer, Score, Topps all featured former MLB infielder Bobby Wine’s son, with bonus glossy cards from the last three of those.
That’s a lot of cards for a guy who never made it back to the Majors.
Wine spent three more seasons in pro ball, appearing in minor league games for Texas, Altanta, the Yankees, Montreal, and Cleveland, before bidding adieu to the playing field in 1990.
But those 1988 rookie cards of his … well, they were rookie cards during the height of the rookie craze, so plenty of collectors (who shall remain nameless) pulled them to the side, piled them in “rookie” stacks to be checked over and over again in the ensuing years to see if any of the youngsters salted away there had broken out.
Wine never did, but don’t be too surprised if you find one of his RCs slipped into an old plastic sleeve, left for posterity.
It was just a sign of the times, and, in many ways, Wine was a face of the hobby in 1988 — a face on a rookie card who just might hit it big.
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