DeWayne Buice

This article was written by Dan Taylor

In the late 1980s the story of DeWayne Buice was one of success through rare determination and perseverance. He spent nine seasons in the minor leagues before he finally reached the majors. Twice the righty suffered a broken bone in his arm while pitching. After recovering, no team would give him a chance – but he took his talents to Mexico and Venezuela, where award-winning seasons put Buice back on the big-league radar and led to the fulfillment of his baseball dream. Perhaps the most lasting legacy of DeWayne Buice and his time in the major leagues is not his work on the mound, but the role he played in the creation of a unique baseball phenomenon, The Upper Deck Company.

DeWayne Allison Buice (rhymes with “ice”) was born August 20, 1957, in Lynwood, California. He was the youngest of three children born to Aubrey and Isabelle (Forsyth) Buice. His mother was the daughter of teenaged Scottish immigrants. She worked as a secretary. His father was a native Texan who worked as a general contractor. Aubrey Buice had a background in semipro baseball and his own father had been a longtime friend of Tris Speaker.

In the summer of 1961, inspiration was sown within four-year-old DeWayne Buice when his father took him to Wrigley Field in Los Angeles to see his first professional baseball game. It featured the area’s new American League team, the Los Angeles Angels, and the New York Yankees. During the game Buice turned to his father and said, “I want to be one of those guys someday.”1 The very next day father and son engaged in their first game of catch. “My dad not only taught me how to throw but because he had played ball, he taught me proper mechanics, which was important,” Buice said.2

Buice ascended the youth baseball ranks to become a high school standout. He attended Carson High School in Carson, California, 17 miles south of Los Angeles. In his senior season in 1975, he was among the top pitchers in the Los Angeles area.3 Upon conclusion of the season Buice was chosen for the All-L.A. City second team. Along with two rivals, Eddie Jurak, and Rich Murray, the younger brother of Eddie Murray, he tied in voting for the Marine League’s most valuable player.4 The South Bay Daily Breeze wrote that Buice, “was one of the hardest throwers in the area with 88 strikeouts in 60 innings. He had a 7-3 record, accounting for most of Carson’s victories in league play. He is expected to be drafted.”5 But Buice wasn’t drafted. His size, 5-feet-11 and 145 pounds, was seen as a reason.6

Instead Buice attended junior college. He enrolled at Los Angeles Harbor College before a disagreement with the coach led to a move to Cypress College. At the latter, academic issues kept Buice off the diamond. In February 1977 Buice was approached by the father of a teammate. The man, George “Red” Daniels, was a bird dog for San Francisco Giants scout George Genovese. Daniels took Buice to meet Genovese. The pitcher joined an amateur team Genovese operated that was made up of prospects. On May 19, 1977, Buice signed a contract with the San Francisco Giants organization.

The new pro’s first assignment was Great Falls (Montana) in the Pioneer Rookie League. He appeared in 15 games, starting three. From the beginning Buice was used almost exclusively as a reliever. In his 11 minor-league seasons he started just 18 times in 350 games. All of his 96 big-league appearances were out of the bullpen.

Buice’s first spring training in 1978 was almost his last. He was assigned to the Giants’ Cedar Rapids, Iowa farm club in the Single-A Midwest League. Throughout the spring he pitched poorly.7 The day before the team’s final workout, Jack Mull, the Cedar Rapids manager, said “If he throws well tomorrow, we’ll keep him. If not, he’ll be released.”8 Buice pitched well and once the 1978 season began, he became the team’s ace relief pitcher.9 He finished the season with a 1.70 earned run average, lowest in the Midwest League.

The 1979 season brought a promotion to Fresno, the Giants’ affiliate in the high Class A California League. There he developed a devastating out pitch: a forkball. “It looks like a fastball, but it really breaks down out of the strike zone and all you can do is hit it on the ground,” said Rick McMullen of the rival Reno Silver Sox.10 Buice won seven games and during one stretch of the season amassed a streak of 21 consecutive scoreless innings.11 He turned in a 3.71 ERA. Buice returned to Fresno for the 1980 season and again won seven games while pitching both in relief and as an occasional starter. He trimmed his ERA from 3.71 to 3.33. His control also improved, as he reduced his walks per nine innings from 4.1 to 3.4.

By the end of the 1980 season, it became clear the Giants would leave Buice unprotected and subject to the minor-league draft. Unhappy with the decision and unable to convince his superiors to change their minds, George Genovese went outside the organization to promote his player. The scout tipped off a friend, Dick Wiencek, to Buice.12 Wiencek, a longtime scout with the Minnesota Twins, had just been made scouting director for the Oakland Athletics. On December 8, 1980, at the baseball winter meetings in Dallas, Wiencek, armed with information from Genovese, selected Buice in the minor-league draft.13

Buice flourished in 1981 with West Haven (Connecticut), Oakland’s Double-A affiliate in the Eastern League. He earned 15 saves, compiled an 8-3 record, and had an earned run average of 2.09. In the final week of the season, Buice received a promotion to Tacoma in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. In two appearances for Tacoma, he was 1-0 and gave up no runs and no hits over three innings.

Buice began the 1982 season with Tacoma. A month into the season he struggled with his control and was returned to West Haven. His stay was brief. In a game against Holyoke on June 1, he hurled five innings of no-hit ball.14 The first six outs he recorded were by strikeout. Days later, his wildness corrected, Buice was recalled to Tacoma. “I was able to turn it around with a lot of throwing,” he said.15

When Buice returned to Tacoma, the plan called for a return to the bullpen. However, the club’s rotation was depleted, so Buice was pressed into emergency service as a starter. Against Albuquerque he pitched 6 2/3 innings and allowed two runs while striking out seven as Tacoma won 8-5. Six nights later he started again, and this time tossed a complete game in which Tacoma defeated Vancouver, 7-4.16 In the days that followed Buice felt pain in his right elbow. It was diagnosed as a strained tendon, and he was held out of action for eight days. When Tacoma’s June 25 game in Tucson went into extra innings, Buice was summoned from the bullpen with one out in the 10th inning. He pitched 1 2/3 innings and retired all five batters he faced, three by strikeout. But every pitch he threw brought pain. “I was really dumb to go out there,” he said.17

A month and a half later Buice suffered an injury that would end his season. Buice was the starting pitcher in the second game of an August 10 doubleheader between Tacoma and Albuquerque. Facing Albuquerque’s Greg Brock, who’d hit his 40th home run of the season in the first game, Buice felt a sharp pain in his right arm as he released a pitch. The injury was diagnosed as a stress fracture.18 Buice was sent home and told to keep his arm in a sling for three months.

In January 1983 Buice married Rose Cockey. It ended in divorce one year later. In 1988 Buice married Diane Doerksen. Their union produced two sons, Joseph and Cole.

When the 1983 season began, Buice was again with Tacoma. He showed no ill effects of the injury to his arm. By June, his record was 5-1 with a 1.47 ERA. Meanwhile, in Oakland, the Athletics were in a tailspin. They concluded the month of May with six straight losses and their manager, Steve Boros, vowed to make changes.19 In a June 1 article in the San Francisco Examiner, sportswriter Glenn Schwarz lobbied for the promotion of Buice.20 Five days later, Kit Steir wrote in the Oakland Tribune that Buice could be brought up to the big leagues any day. Even the Tacoma manager, Bob Didier, told Buice a trip to the big leagues appeared imminent.21

It was then that injury struck the hurler again. During a game, Buice released a pitch, felt a sharp pain, and heard the simultaneous sound of something snap. His team’s third baseman came over to ask if he was all right.22 The player said what he heard sounded like someone had broken a broomstick over their knee.23 Buice kept quiet. He pitched on for several more days, still hoping for the call-up to the major leagues. Every pitch brought intense pain. Buice told no one. He gulped aspirin to dull the pain. After two weeks of trying, he couldn’t continue. His last appearance was on July 11 in a loss to Albuquerque.24 The injury was worse than the one a year before. This time his right arm was broken. It would be in a cast for three months. In all, Buice would not pick up a baseball for seven months.25 When the season ended, he became a free agent. Although his overall record for the 1983 season was pretty good (5-3, 3.44 ERA), Oakland did not re-sign him.

Throughout the winter Buice struggled to find a job in baseball. “Not too many people want to take a chance on a guy who broke his arm two years in a row,” he said.26 Finally Cleveland offered an opportunity. Buice went to spring training with their Triple-A club, the Maine Guides. When spring training ended, the organization wanted instead to send him to the Double-A Buffalo Bisons. Buice declined and was let go.27 In May the Giants phoned with the offer of a tryout with their Triple-A club in Phoenix. Buice pitched batting practice for the club for a week but was not offered a contract.28 Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, and Houston offered tryouts. None produced a contract.

With the help of Genovese, however, Buice landed with Nuevo Laredo of the Triple-A Mexican League.29 As the Tecolotes’ ace reliever, Buice appeared in 14 games. He finished the season with a 4-1 record, a 2.25 ERA, and 35 strikeouts in 40 innings of work. Yet despite his success, no offer came from any club in the United States.

In 1985 Buice was out of baseball. He worked construction jobs in Southern California. One was at the Beverly Hills home of actor Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. In September 1985 Genovese was at a California Angels game when a rarity occurred: rain began to fall. The scout took cover in the concourse, where he was seen by Roberta Mazur, the secretary to the Angels’ scouting director, Larry Himes. Mazur invited Genovese into the office for a cup of coffee.30 When Himes arrived, the scout launched into an impassioned pitch for his protégé, Buice. Himes sent the pitcher a contract.31

Buice began the 1986 season with the Midland (Texas) Angels in the Double-A Texas League. By mid-June his won-loss record was 7-2. In August, having struck out 73 batters in 78 1/3 innings, Buice was promoted to the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate in the Pacific Coast League, the Edmonton Trappers, with whom he compiled an 0.73 ERA by yielding one earned run in eight outings covering 12 1/3 innings. Six weeks after the season ended, Buice was added to the Angels 40-man roster. He would go to spring training in 1987 with the major-league club.

In the winter that followed the 1986 season, Buice pitched in the Venezuelan winter league. With Leones del Caracas, he struck out 67 batters in 60 innings, earned 12 saves, and was named the league’s most valuable player.32 Though the team lost to La Guaira in the playoffs, Buice earned MVP honors for the series as well. The postseason ended two weeks prior to the start of spring training. Buice opted to take a break and did not throw a baseball for 12 days. Once spring training began his pitching mechanics were askew. His control went awry. “I keep looking to see what other people saw in Buice,” said Angels’ manager Gene Mauch.33 Buice sought help from Joe Coleman, the Angels’ minor-league pitching coordinator. “My mechanics were all screwed up. We went to the sidelines and got it figured out in about five minutes,” Buice said.34 It was not soon enough, however, to prevent being sent to the minors. But as it developed, his stay there would be brief.

On the morning of April 23, 1987, Buice was in the Edmonton clubhouse using the ballclub’s washing machine to do laundry. He was surprised to see his manager, Tom Kotchman, who had come to deliver news.35 George Hendrick had suffered a broken finger when hit by a pitch and was going on the disabled list.36 Buice was to join the Angels in Minneapolis.

On Saturday afternoon, April 25, in his 10th season of professional baseball and with 324 minor league games under his belt, 29-year-old DeWayne Buice entered his first major-league game. The Angels trailed the Minnesota Twins, 5-4, in the bottom of the fifth inning. Buice was called upon to relieve Willie Fraser.37 He struck out the first two batters he faced, Al Newman and Randy Bush. Kirby Puckett lined a single to center, but he induced Kent Hrbek to hit a foul popup to end the inning. Buice pitched 2 2/3 innings that evening. He gave up one run on three hits, struck out three and walked one.

Donnie Moore, the Angels’ top relief pitcher, was struggling with injuries, and Buice stepped into the void. “We feel good about having Buice out there. Obviously, I have confidence in him,” Gene Mauch said.38 By May 25, Buice had appeared in 14 games and possessed a 2.96 earned-run average, with one rough outing in Boston responsible for four of his nine earned runs. With nine saves and an ERA under three in July, Moss Klein of The Sporting News suggested that Buice was among those deserving of consideration for the All-Star game.39

He did not receive that honor, but Buice finished the 1987 season as the Angels’ leader in games pitched (57); WHIP (1.114); and saves (17). His 17 saves placed him third behind Ken Tatum’s 22 (1969) and Bob Lee’s 19 (1964) for the most saves by an Angels rookie. “This has definitely been worth the wait,” he said.40

Injuries derailed Buice in 1988. He arrived at spring training with a back ailment.41 He pitched poorly in April, but was greatly improved in May. In late May he suffered a groin muscle pull.42 In June he pulled a hamstring but didn’t tell anybody and continued to pitch while injured. On June 15, Buice entered a game in the top of the 10th inning, with the Angels tied with Texas, 3-3. He proceeded to allow two walks and three singles as the Rangers scored three times to win, 6-3. It was then that Buice acknowledged the injury. Cookie Rojas, who’d succeeded Mauch as the Angels’ manager, was angry at the suppression. “If I’d known about it earlier, do you think I would have pitched him?” he said.43 Buice was placed on the 15-day disabled list. Once he was able to play again, the Angels sent him down to Edmonton. What was originally announced as a one-week rehabilitation stint became a six-week stay.

It was only after an injury to Donnie Moore, on August 10, that Buice returned to the Angels. In his first game back, against Oakland, he entered a tie game with one out and one on in the eighth inning. After retiring the first batter he saw, Buice issued an intentional walk, and gave up a single to load the bases. He then walked in the lead run and was tagged for a grand slam by Mark McGwire .

Two weeks later Buice was brought in to finish off the ninth inning of a game in which the Angels were beating the Yankees, 13-0. Buice gave up a long home run to Dave Winfield, a double to Jack Clark and a single to Gary Ward before he managed to end the inning. The next day the Angels sent Buice back to Edmonton. In 32 games with the Angels, he had an ERA of 5.88. “I didn’t get a lot of innings and I wasn’t sharp. I guess I just don’t fit in their plans,” he said.44

When Buice was not invited to spring training with the Angels in 1989, he sought his release to play elsewhere. Instead, the Angels sent him to Toronto in a trade for Cliff Young. He began the season with the Blue Jays’ Triple-A affiliate in the International League, the Syracuse Chiefs. Six weeks into the season, with a 1.76 ERA to his credit, Buice was called up to Toronto. His return to the majors was brief, though – just two weeks. After he allowed four runs in an outing against Minnesota, then three against Cleveland, Buice was sent back to Syracuse at the end of May.

Less than three weeks later he received another call-up to Toronto. Over a span of ten days, Buice pitched nine innings in three games. In the last appearance, on June 27, he was assigned long-relief mop-up duty in a game the Blue Jays trailed Baltimore, 12-3. Buice pitched 3 1/3 innings of one-hit ball (a three-run homer) and surrendered six walks. It would be the last game DeWayne Buice would pitch in the major leagues. He was sent back to Syracuse three days later. With Syracuse, Buice appeared in a total of 31 games. He compiled a 4-2 record with a 2.47 ERA. When the season ended, Buice retired from baseball.

One reason for retiring was the income he was receiving from a business venture. In the winter of 1987, Buice became lost while trying to find a restaurant in Anaheim. He ducked into a baseball card shop to seek directions. The owner, Bill Hemrick, recognized Buice and asked if he would sign autographs at an upcoming card show.45 Hemrick told Buice of his plan to produce a distinctive new baseball trading card. He had one problem, though: he had been unable to secure a license from the Major League Baseball Players Association to use player photos. Hemrick promised Buice a 12% stake in the company if he could help arrange for such a license.46

A year later, Buice delivered. “He did a lot of the ground work, actually opening these doors and getting us in to see the right people in a relatively quick period of time,” said Hemrick’s business partner, Paul Sumner.47 Hemrick launched his project and the Upper Deck trading card company was born. The product exploded in popularity – it was called “cardboard gold.”48 In 1989 the income Buice received from Upper Deck was 20 times his baseball salary. But as Buice reviewed company revenues and compared them to what he received, he felt things did not add up. Buice filed a lawsuit to recover what he felt was rightfully owed. The suit was resolved by a settlement in which Buice received a significant financial outlay and agreed to sever ties with the company.

In the years since, DeWayne Buice has been a player and part-owner of an independent baseball team.49 He has also been active in baseball alumni events, overseen several business ventures, and enjoyed deep sea fishing for recreation. As of 2022, he resides in San Clemente, California.

Last revised: July 12, 2023



Thanks to DeWayne Buice for his memories.

This biography was reviewed by Rory Costello and Rick Zucker and fact-checked by Ray Danner.

Photo credit: Trading Card DB.



Websites,,,,,, William J. Weiss player questionnaire.


George Genovese and Dan Taylor, A Scout’s Report: My 70 Years in Baseball, Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland and Company (2015).



1 DeWayne Buice, conversation with the author, December 2, 2022 (hereafter “Buice conversation”).

2 Buice conversation.

3 “All-city MVP award divided,” News-Pilot (San Pedro, California), June 17, 1975: 10.

4 “Jurak Named Marine Best,” News-Pilot, June 14, 1975: 9.

5 “Daily Breeze 1975 All-Star baseball team,” South Bay Daily Breeze, June 1, 1975: 41.

6 Adam Martin, “Old Dreams Die Hard,” Los Angeles Times, July 1, 1988: B14.

7 Bob Hersom, “Bob Hersom,” Cedar Rapids Gazette, May 20, 1978: 17.

8 Hersom, “Bob Hersom.”

9 Bob Hersom, “Mother Nature Stalls Streak,” Cedar Rapids Gazette, May 8, 1978: 15.

10 Frank Benson, “Sox Win 5 in a row to stretch lead,” Reno Gazette-Journal, August 26, 1980: 23.

11 “Pitching Duel: Outlaws Clip Little Giants, 2-1,” Fresno Bee, May 17, 1979: 38.

12 George Genovese and Dan Taylor, A Scout’s Report; My 70 Years in Baseball (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland and Company, 2015), 216.

13 Genovese and Taylor, A Scout’s Report, 216.

14 Barry Schatz, “Mooneyham, Romanick still ailing,” Transcript-Telegram (Holyoke, Massachusetts), June 2, 1982: 31.

15 Mike Ingraham, “Buice, the starter, hurls Tigers close,” Tacoma News Tribune, June 15, 1982: 5.

16 Ingraham, “Buice, the starter, hurls Tigers close.”

17 Corky Simpson, “Sore pitcher rallies Tacoma,” Tucson Citizen, June 26, 1982: 9.

18 Stan Farber, “Bass home run ruins Tacoma bid for sweep,” Tacoma News Tribune, August 28, 1982: 13.

19 Glenn Schwarz, “Boros promises shake-up for slumping A’s,” San Francisco Examiner, June 1, 1983: 61.

20 Schwarz, “Boros promises shake-up for slumping A’s.”

21 Mike Penner, “Buice Gives Angels Some Comic Relief,” Los Angeles Times, May 15, 1987: 103.

22 Penner, “Buice Gives Angels Some Comic Relief.”

23 Penner, “Buice Gives Angels Some Comic Relief.”

24 “Monday’s Late Games,” Arizona Daily Star, July 13, 1983: 11.

25 Penner, “Buice Gives Angels Some Comic Relief.”

26 Penner, “Buice Gives Angels Some Comic Relief.”

27 “Guides Final Roster Isn’t Settled Yet,” Journal Tribune (Biddeford, Maine), April 4, 1984: 11.

28 Lloyd Herberg, “Deer’s slam paces Phoenix,” Arizona Republic, May 11, 1984: 125.

29 Manuel Flores, “Winning will keep international experiment alive,” Corpus Christi Times, July 8, 1985: 7.

30 Genovese and Taylor, A Scout’s Report, 216.

31 Genovese and Taylor, A Scout’s Report, 217.

32 Penner, “Buice Gives Angels Some Comic Relief.”

33 Mike Penner, “Buice Finally Delivers Punch Line,” Los Angeles Times, March 31, 1987: 38.

34 Penner, “Buice Gives Angels Some Comic Relief.”

35 Mike Penner, “Angels Defeat Twins, Despite 5 Errors, 7-3,” Los Angeles Times, April 24, 1987: 93.

36 “Buice Has Returned,” News-Pilot, April 23, 1987: 30.

37 Mike Penner, “Angels Run Out of Innings and Lose, 8-7,” Los Angeles Times, April 26, 1987: 57.

38 Jon Heyman, “Buice hopes to keep grip in majors,” News-Pilot, May 8, 1987: 17.

39 Moss Klein, “Too Often, Deserving All Stars Overlooked,” The Sporting News, July 13, 1987: 28.

40 “Sox Drop Another,” North Adams (Massachusetts) Transcript, July 21, 1987: 9.

41 Chris Foster, “Buice Hopes to Star in a Major Rerun,” Los Angeles Times, May 16, 1989: 191.

42 Foster, “Buice Hopes to Star in a Major Rerun.”

43 Mike Penner, “Angels Get 19 Hits, Still Need Davis’ Homer to Beat Royals,” Los Angeles Times, June 18, 1988: 53.

44 “A.L. West,” The Sporting News, September 12, 1988: 23.

45 Paul Dottino, “Pitcher found fortune in his cards,” The Record (Hackensack, New Jersey), May 1, 1993: 22.

46 Buice conversation.

47 Darren Rovell, “’Hungry’ journeyman Buice enjoys his millions,”, August 7, 2003.

48 Joey Hend, “How a Mediocre Baseball Player Ended Up Making MILLIONS Off Upper Deck Baseball Cards,”, February 12, 2006.

49 Darren Rovell, “’Hungry’ journeyman Buice enjoys his millions.”

Full Name

DeWayne Allison Buice


August 20, 1957 at Lynwood, CA (USA)

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