Otis Nixon encounters a log jam in Cleveland – 1987 Topps
Otis Nixon became known for his speed and home run robbing skills in the early 1990s, however a few years earlier he was just another outfielder struggling to get on the field.
In the mid-1980s, Nixon had spectacular speed, but the Cleveland Indians also had Joe Carter, Brett Butler, Mel Hall, Cory Snyder and George Vukovich.
That log jam in the Indians’ outfield limited Nixon to appearances in just 277 games from 1984-87.
After five seasons in the New York Yankees organization, Nixon was traded to the Tribe with George Frazier and Guy Elston in exchange for Toby Harrah and Rick Browne prior to the 1984 season.
Nixon was originally drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in 21st round of the 1978 amateur draft. After not signing with the Reds, he also passed on an offer by the California Angles before signing with the Yankess the next year.
With the Tribe, Nixon became manager Pat Corrales’s “secret weapon,” primarily used as a switch-hitting bunter or pinch runner late in close games.
When the Indians failed to live up to expectations in 1987, Nixon became a luxury and was sent down to the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons 19 games into the season. During his stay in Cleveland, Nixon recorded a .214 batting average and 57 stolen bases.
While with Buffalo, he was arrested for possession of cocaine and underwent drug rehab treatment.
Prior to the 1988 season, Nixon signed with the Montreal Expos. Four years later, Nixon scaled the outfield wall at Atlanta Fulton County Stadium to rob Andy Van Slyke of a home run. It is regarded as one of the most spectacular catches of the era.
Nixon retired from baseball in 1999 after 17 seasons. He currently runs On-Track Ministries and is working towards obtaining his master’s degree in Divinity.