He sure as hell aint no Nolan Ryan …

You’d be hard-pressed to find a pitcher from the 90s who didn’t spend much of his youth looking up to Nolan Ryan. And who could blame them. Ryan was the epitome of a power pitcher. He’d throw you in high and tight, and then break you off with a fastball on the outside corner. Kerry Wood loved him. Todd Van Poppel thought he was his son. And Roger Clemens tried to pattern his career after the Ryan Express, and to some extent he was better that his idol.

But what about Rick Helling?

Whomever decided to let Helling wear "34" should have been fired.

Whomever decided to let Helling wear "34" should have been fired.

On his 1993 Score card — which is NOT his rookie, see 1991 Topps Traded for that — Helling is touted for hurling a 91 mph fastball and a “nasty” slider. But what intrigues me the most about this card is that Helling is pictured WEARING RYAN’S JERSEY NUMBER. What the Helling is up with that? Don’t the people in Texas know that number is sacred. I don’t care if Helling is supposed to be the second coming of Walter Johnson, good ol’ 34 is not to worn by anyone, especially if the originator of “34” (Ryan) is still playing with the ball club.

Helling may have had a low 90s fastball and a “nasty” slider, but he sure as hell aint  no Nolan Ryan, and his career numbers showed that. Helling did wound out with a pair of World Series rings and managed to play with six ball clubs throughout his 13-year career, but posted an ERA near 5.00 while doing so. So what is Helling up to these days? He’s a special assistant to Major League Baseball Players’ Association leader Donald Fehr.

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