Mickey Tettleton was a power-hitting catcher with one of the most unorthodox swings in all of Major League Baseball. Named after Mickey Mantle, Tettleton was a student of the game and always was a fan favorite. It took some time for the switch-hitting Tettleton to develop into the all-star he eventually became with the Detroit Tigers and Baltimore Orioles. It’s also still up for debate if Froot Loops had anything to do with his big-league success.
Mickey Tettleton’s MLB career
Mickey Tettleton was drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the fifth round of the 1981 MLB draft after playing his college ball at Oklahoma State University. He spent four unproductive seasons with the Athletics. In March of 1988, Tettleton was released by the A’s after hitting .194 with the big-league club.
Tettleton then hooked on with the Baltimore Orioles, starting at with the AAA-level Rochester Red Wings. After a brief stint in the minors, Tettleton played 86 games in Baltimore. The following season, he made his first MLB All-Star appearance as he smacked 26 home runs in 1989. In January of 1991, Tettleton was traded to the Detroit Tigers, where he spent the net four seasons.
He finished his 14-year career with three seasons with the Texas Rangers. Tettleton. During his career, Tettleton smacked 245 home runs and drove in 732 runs. He was a two-time all-star and is considered one of the best offensive catcher in the game, although he later moved on to play first base and the outfield.
Tettleton’s best years
Mickey Tettleton heated up as his career went along. His best years came between 1991-94 when he was a member of the Detroit Tigers. In each of his first three seasons with the Tigers, he hit better than 30 home runs. In his final year in Detroit, he was selected as an MLB All-Star for the second time in his career.
During his first season in Detroit, Tettleton went on a home-run tear, hitting seven homers in seven days, including two that went out of the stadium. “It’s a crazy part of this game,” Tettleton told the Detroit Free Press this week. You get in streaks when it looks like they’re throwing beach balls from second base and other times it looks like they’re throwing golf balls from 20 feet away.”
Tettleton also spoke to the Detroit Free Press about his hitting stance, something that he wasn’t too fond of. “It was ugly, and I certainly wouldn’t teach it to anyone,” he said. “Laying the bat out started in Lakeland as I was at a batting machine one morning. I felt loose laying it out like that. I started hitting some balls good and just went with it. I first had a routine to look at the bat to make sure the label was facing the pitcher and then would scrape the dirt and dig a little hole.”
His superstitions also included eating Froot Loops
During his all-star season with the Baltimore Orioles, Mickey Tettleton was in a groove and that’s when his superstitions really kicked in. “Baseball players are notoriously superstitious and I was certainly one of them,” Tettleton told the Detroit Free Press. “During that home run stretch, I was eating “Froot Loops” cereal and either I said it or my wife at the time mentioned it. I would wear the same T-shirt if I was going good, but I washed it of course. If you think it works, it works. It was like when Wade Boggs said that his secret was eating chicken.”
Like most power hitters, Tettleton was usually a victim of the strikeout. He recalled his first MLB All-Star appearance when he was with the Orioles, thinking he didn’t belong there. “The whole year was kind of like a dream,” Tettleton told the Washington Post. “I remember looking around the clubhouse before the All-Star Game and seeing me in there with all those superstars. I felt completely out of place. I couldn’t see me being in there with those guys.”
Sure enough, Tettleton got to pinch-hit in the game and struck out against hard-throwing left-hander Mitch Williams. “It was a great strikeout,” he said. “I enjoyed it.” Today, Tettleton remains involved with the game as he is an assistant coach at Oklahoma Christian University.