Rick Leach, 1987 Topps, #716
Another card from Topps’ classy 1987 faux wood border year. What in the hell were they thinking?
Since every person I seem to pass in the street has a moustache this month, I figured we needed more sketchy facial hair here too. Enter Rick Leach.
I mentioned Leach’s run as a college athlete before, so I won’t dwell on that, but I didn’t go into the issues Leach ran into once he joined the Blue Jays. Being drafted by the Tigers after being the QB for Michigan must have been an incredibly tough situation for Leach. The expectations of him as a marketing vehicle must have been enormous, so when he joined the Jays in 1984 after being dropped by Detroit, Leach had already been through more than most young players. Combine that with the realities of baseball in the 1980’s and you can see where this might lead.
Leach went missing from the Blue Jays for several days during the 1987 season. While the "personal problems" excuse was given by the team, Leach had developed a serious cocaine problem. But this was hardly unique at this point in baseball (see: almost all of the 1986 Mets) and he never faced any public consequences until a suspension in 1990 for failing a drug test as a member of the San Francisco Giants. He went to rehab, but that was pretty much the end of his baseball career. He was cut after Spring Training for the 1991 season.
Leach can still be found in the public eye every few years, usually for criticism of the Michigan football program.