Saturday, January 25, 2014

#16 Gary Wheelock, Pitcher

When you are a kid playing baseball your dream is to play for your hometown team. For Gary that was the case. After attending high school in Fullerton and going to college at UC Irvine, he would be selected by the California Angels in the 6th round of the 1974 draft. Gary would pack up and head for Quad Cities for almost the rest of the season only to be promoted to Salinas for two games to finish the season. Mr. Wheelock would make a big jump moving to AAA Salt Lake City for the 1975 and 1976 seasons. Gary did so well in his second season in Salt Lake that he earned a call to the Angles to end the '76 season and got lit up in two appearances with only two innings pitched.  During the expansion draft for the 1977 season, the Mariners saw something they liked by taking Gary with the second pick in the draft. While it is difficult to have good stats with an expansion team, Gary would start 17 games for manager Darrell Johnson during the that season. Sadly with the addition of some pitchers in the offseason, Gary would be at AAA San Jose in 1978, and when the Mariners switched their AAA affiliation to Spokane, Gary spent 1979 in Eastern Washington. Gary would see the Mariners one more time for a start in the Kingdome against the Minnesota Twins on April 18th before spending the rest of the 1980 season back in Spokane. The Mariners would let Gary go after the 198 season, and he would sign with his other team from home in the Dodgers. Gary would get into 9 games in 1981 with the AA San Antonio Dodgers. After those nine games, he would become their pitching coach for that season and for the 1982 season.

The Mariners decided to bring Gary back to the family by hiring him as the roving pitching instructor between 1983 and 1986. Gary would decide to take a job with the AAA affiliate of the Rangers in the Oklahoma City 89'ers during the 1987 season under manager Toby Harrah. He would come back to the Mariners family in 1988 spending time as the pitching coach with the Bellingham Mariners for four seasons. Gary would be the pitching coach for the San Bernadino Spirit in 1992, before coaching the Peoria Mariners from 1993 through the 1995 season. For the next three years it was back to the Everett AquaSox, only to head back to Peoria from 1999-2002 and once more in Everett in 2003. Gary decided he liked the warm weather more and would be the pitching coach in Peoria from 2004 through the 2011 seasons. This upcoming season will be Gary's 31st in the Mariners organization as a coach while he spends his third season as the Rehab Pitching Coordinator.





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