Sometimes, it takes awhile for the baseball universe to align.

Take Bill Latham, for example.

The Seattle Mariners took the left-hander out of Huffman High School (Birmingham, Alabama) in the 11th round of their first-ever June Draft, way back in 1977.

Latham was unflapped by a relatively low slot with a definitely lowly franchise .. he just didn’t sign.

Instead, he headed off to college and then when undrafted in 1981 … but the New York Mets signed him as an amateur free agent, and the climb began.

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Find 1992 Fleer ProCards on eBay (affiliate link)

Find 1992 Fleer ProCards on Amazon (affiliate link)

Low-A Little Falls that summer (1981) …

Single-A Shelby in 1982 …

A season split between Single-A and Double-A in 1983 …

An Olympic summer, 1984, split between Double-A and Triple-A …

And, finally, a 1985 season planted firmly at Triple-A Tidewater, with the Tides.

Well, planted firmly there for most of the season, because Latham got his first shot in the Majors that April, tasted a bit more of the fancy coffee in July, and then finished the season back in Shea Stadium.

In all, Latham racked up seven appearances, including three starts, and posted a respectable 3.97 ERA.

The next January, though, as the Mets were gearing up for their World Series run, they shipped Latham to the Minnesota Twins along with Billy Beane and Joe Klink, receiving minor leaguer Pat Crosby and Tim Teufel in return.

Latham spent most of 1986 at Triple-A Toledo but did make it into another seven games for the Big League Twins, making his final appearance on October 1. Alas, that second seven-game run didn’t turn out so well — 0-1, 7.31 ERA.

The next spring, Minnesota traded Latham to … the New York Mets.

He would never make it back to the Majors, though.

And he would never grace a Major League baseball card.

No Topps, no Donruss, no Fleer.

Not a single luxury. Like Robinson Crusoe …

Oh, wait. Wrong story. Sorry about that.

But wait!

Baseball is funny, and sometimes, baseball cards are even funnier.

Latham hung around the Mets organization as a coach after he hung up his playing spikes after the 1988 season.

By 1992, he was the pitching coach for the High-A St. Lucie Mets.

Also by that summer, Fleer had hooked up with ProCards in the minor league card market to make, yes, Fleer ProCards cards.

And, who do you suppose showed up there on card #1765 (!!) for the St. Lucie Mets?

As a coach?

And still just in his very early 30s?

Yeah, it was William Carol Latham.

No Topps.

No Donruss.

But …

Yes … Fleer!

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