I’ve got a shiny penny for anyone who can name the athlete pictured above.
Too late, it’s none other than Bill Swift. Billy Swift, on the cover of a video game. And not just any game, this was World Series Baseball ’95 for Sega Genesis. I played that game constantly. McD often joined in. I loved that game. And I never realized how historically irrelevant the guy on the cover would eventually become.
William Charles Swift grew up in Portland, Maine, attended South Portland High School and then the University of Maine. He pitched for Team USA in 1984, and was drafted No. 2 overall by the Seattle Mariners in the 1984 MLB Draft. (Ahead of, among others, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Mark McGwire and the immortal Oddibe McDowell.) He moved through the Mariners system and he was so good they shipped him to San Francisco in 1991 along with pitchers Mike Jackson and Dave Burba for Kevin Mitchell and Mike Remlinger. The Giants moved Swift from the bullpen to the starting rotation and in 1992 he led the National League with a 2.08 ERA. Then in 1993 Swift led the NL with 21 wins.
But, apparently the 1994 strike year was tough on old Billy. He never returned to form after that. He played for the Colorado Rockies from 1995-97 and was the first in a long line of pitching busts for the Rocks. Swift returned to the Mariners in 1998 after being released by Colorado and he struggled to an 11-9 record with a 5.85 ERA and a 1.62 WHIP. Following the ’98 season, Swift retired from baseball. Probably a good idea.
He now coaches high school baseball at his daughter’s school, Scottsdale Christian Academy in Phoenix, Arizona.
Dude was on the cover of one of the best video games ever and now he coaches high school baseball. Wow. So can it then be said that there was a World Series Baseball curse? Or was Billy Swift just not very good at baseball? We’re gonna go with the latter. But hey, I guess they can never take his cover away from him.
Here’s another image from the promotional information for the game.