Wayne Housie never dreamed of playing baseball. He’d envisioned himself in a suit and tie, carrying a briefcase.1
Housie worked a full decade in professional baseball from 1986 through 1995, primarily as a center fielder. He played briefly for the Boston Red Sox in 1991 and for the New York Mets in 1993.
Wayne Tyrone Housie was born on May 20, 1965 in Hampton, Virginia. After the family moved to California, he went to school in Riverside (in the greater Los Angeles area), graduating from Norte Vista High School, and then attending Riverside Community College.2
Housie talked about his parents in a November 2021 interview. “My mother’s name was Carol Housie, and she was a teacher’s aide her whole life. High school. She was always a giver. She always loved to work with kids. She worked mainly with kids who were challenged. She stayed later – even after school was over with – to help them. That was just her passion. She absolutely loved it.
“My dad was Mario Housie, Jr. He’s always been a businessperson. He ran a restaurant called Chicken and Wings. He owned a real estate company. He was a real estate broker for a while. He’d be gone in the morning and didn’t come home until late in the evening. Provided for the family. There were no issues or any kind of stuff like that.”
Wayne had one sister, Valerie, two years younger. Her career has been in the insurance business, and she has worked for State Farm for more than 10 years.
His father urged Wayne to take up sports, pushing him toward baseball when he was just eight years old.3 Both of his parents worked later than the end of the school day, and “they wanted me to be involved in some kind of sport or something that was going to keep my attention, so that way it would keep me from doing things I shouldn’t be doing as a young man. He pushed me to baseball. I played both football and baseball in high school and I was good at both. I could have totally done something with football as well, but we both agreed that I was probably not the size for that.” He grew to 5-feet-9 and was listed at 165 pounds.
In baseball, Wayne was a switch-hitter who threw right-handed, He says he always hit more left-handed than he did righty. The Detroit Tigers selected him in the eighth round of the January 1986 draft, and he was signed by scout Joe Henderson. “I knew that he was following me. My dad would always come to the games, and he would be sitting out in the stands, and all of a sudden, you’d see him talking to somebody. I’d think, ‘Who the heck is he talking to?’ And they’d say, ‘Oh, yeah, all these scouts are out here.’ Then we found out that Joe Henderson was going to be there. I met with him once, like right after I was drafted. But he had followed me when I was in college.”
After being drafted, Housie was first assigned to the Gastonia Tigers in the Single-A South Atlantic League. He acquitted himself well during his first year in professional ball, appearing in 90 games, batting .259 with 29 RBIs, 55 runs scored, and 38 stolen bases. An outfielder throughout his first four years in the minors, he played in 125 games during his second season, again in Single A, but this time for the Lakeland Tigers in the Florida State League. He hit for an almost identical average (.258) while driving in 45 and scoring 58.
His 1988 season was split between Lakeland (.269 in 55 games with 23 RBIs and 31 runs scored) and Double-A Glens Falls (Eastern League), where he appeared in 63 games but struggled, batting .188 with 16 RBIs.
Housie was kept at Double-A in 1989, remaining in the Eastern League and playing in 127 games for the London (Ontario) Tigers. He hit .237, with a .323 on-base percentage in part thanks to drawing 52 walks. That was his last year in the Tigers system. He was assigned to London again for 1990, but it became clear that he was going to be a part-time player, so he asked for his release during spring training. His request was granted and for most of the 1990 season, he was with the unaffiliated Salinas Spurs in the Advanced-A California League. In 92 games, he hit .270.
The Spurs were operated by Joe Buzas, the owner of the New Britain Red Sox, and Buzas was impressed enough by Housie’s play to mention the outfielder to officials in Boston.4 Housie was signed to a Red Sox contract and on August 2, he came to Connecticut and joined the BritSox, a Double-A Eastern League team that was part of Boston’s system. He appeared in 30 games before the season ended and did well as “a speedy leadoff hitter” with a .274 batting average. “He has made a difference,” said manager Butch Hobson.5
Housie said he had left the Tigers on good terms but was pleased with his time at New Britain. “I’ve been treated here better than anywhere else I’ve ever been,” he said.6 Housie covered a lot of ground in the outfield and was rated highly on defense. The BritSox didn’t prevail in the Eastern League but made the postseason. The following year, the Hartford Courant said that having added Housie in August had been “the offensive booster shot New Britain needed to make the playoffs.”7
In 1991, Housie played at Double-A New Britain again, as the team’s starting center fielder; at the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox; and in the major leagues with Boston. He hit .277 in 113 BritSox games and drew 55 bases on balls for a .361 OBP, earning himself the team MVP award.
Pawtucket added him for the stretch drive in the International League in mid-August. Housie played in 21 games for the PawSox and upped his game, batting .329 (.384 OBP). This earned yet another promotion – to the big club. Mike Greenwell hurt his knee and the Red Sox needed someone to help fill in. The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo heralded Housie’s arrival by noting that the organization considered him “a superior defensive outfielder.”8
But after Pawtucket’s season was over, Housie had gone home to Santa Ana, California. When the call came, Housie had already started his offseason job at Best Products department store, where he’d worked for five offseasons and been promoted to a department manager. He was having dinner with his fiancée when the call reached him via his mother. After a cross-country trip, he was back in New England and in a Boston uniform, not having slept for 36 hours.9
Housie had never even been to major-league spring training, but made his big-league debut on September 17 when Red Sox manager Joe Morgan put him into the game in the bottom of the eighth inning. Boston had a 4-3 lead over the Orioles and Jack Clark led off the eighth with a single. Housie came in as a pinch-runner. Carlos Quintana lined out to center. Housie then stole second base. None of the other batters got the ball out of the infield, so he remained stranded on second, but he’d done what was asked of him and the Red Sox won the game.
He got into another game the next night. Again, it was the bottom of the eighth, at Fenway Park against the Orioles, with Boston holding a one-run lead. Steve Lyons led off with a walk. Housie pinch-hit for John Marzano and executed a sacrifice bunt to move Lyons to second base. Lyons then stole third and Luis Rivera bunted back to the pitcher, scoring Lyons on the squeeze play. Housie knew he was likely to be used sparingly. He just wanted to contribute, saying, “I don’t care. I’m here. That’s what it’s all about. Two weeks ago, I was home, my season over. Now I’m in a pennant race. If I have to sit and watch, that’s just fine.”10
His next two appearances were as a pinch-runner. On September 27, he got his first base hit against the Milwaukee Brewers at County Stadium. The Red Sox were trailing 7-2 when Mo Vaughn singled to lead off the seventh. Housie was asked to pinch-hit for Bob Zupcic, and singled off Chris Bosio. Four batters later, not only had Vaughn scored but Jody Reed had driven in Housie for his first run scored. He came up again in the ninth and struck out in a 7-5 loss.
Housie’s only other hit for Boston was a double at Fenway against the Brewers on October 5. He scored that time as well. In all, he appeared in 11 games for the Red Sox, batting .250 in 10 plate appearances (2-for-8, with a sacrifice and a walk.) He logged 18 innings in the field, all in center, accepting three chances without an error.
Housie spent the full 1992 season with Pawtucket. He started the season very slowly (4-for-45) and by season’s end – even after coming on strong in July and early August – he’d hit a meager .219 in 134 games, driving in 28 runs and scoring 53. He struck out 102 times, walking 32. The Red Sox released him after the season.
Why had he struggled so much in 1992 when he had been so successful at three different levels in 1991?
“Everything for me was based off of speed,” Housie related. “I remember bunting the ball probably in my third or fourth time up in Pawtucket [in 1991]. I drag-bunted the ball, I got it past the pitcher, and it went toward the second baseman. He tried to bare-hand it, but it took a bad hop and it bounced over his hand. The ball never left the infield. I saw that and I took off and went to second. I got a double for bunting the ball, so speed was really, really a big deal.”
For someone for whom speed was a hallmark, Housie had just one stolen base in the majors – the night of his debut – but had 235 steals during his minor-league years.
In 1992, however, he suffered knee maladies that proved to be recurring. “The whole time I played baseball, I had six knee surgeries. Thank God they were all meniscal tears. One had a ganglion cyst in it, so I had to get that taken care of, but I couldn’t run like the normal way I would run that year that I struggled. There’s a lot of base hits I lost because of it.” Each knee required three surgeries over time. Right after the 1992 season, he had another.
In December, he was signed by the New York Mets and made his way back to the majors once more in 1993, this time at the beginning of the season. He was initially assigned to Norfolk, but after outfielder Darren Reed strained a tendon in his knee, Housie (who had hit .444 in spring training) was brought to New York in time for Opening Day.
Fifteen of his 18 appearances for the Mets were as a pinch-hitter; the other three were twice as a late-inning entry in right field and once as a pinch-runner. He singled and scored a run in his first game, on April 9 against the Astros. On April 12, he was sent to Norfolk, but was soon summoned back after the Mets decided to send outfielder Ryan Thompson to Norfolk with a hamstring issue. Housie doubled in San Diego on May Day. He had just one other hit, in Montreal on May 14, an RBI single to center in the sixth inning off Scott Aldred, bringing the Mets to within a run of the Expos. Two batters later, he crossed home plate, tying the score at 6-6, though Montreal ultimately prevailed, 8-7.
He didn’t get much playing time. His last game with New York was on June 9. Batting .188, with just the one RBI, he was returned to Norfolk on June 11. The very next day, he was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers. When he first heard the news, he was looking forward to being reunited with a friend on the team, pitcher Josias Manzanillo. Then he learned that it was Manzanillo for whom he had been traded.
The Brewers apparently hadn’t done their homework. “The manager [Phil Garner] was told that I was a power hitter. He realized when I got there that I was not what they had traded for.” The Brewers placed him with their Triple-A club, the New Orleans Zephyrs. He played in 64 games and hit .274, scoring 22 runs and driving in seven. “The situation with Milwaukee never worked out.” At one point, he beleived he was headed to the big-league club. “I was told I was going to be the one going and the next thing you know, it’s not me. It’s Troy O’Leary who goes.”
At the end of the season, Housie was granted free agency.
In 1994, he was back in the Red Sox system, spending the year with New Britain. “The organization always treated me well with regard to opportunity. I just felt like it didn’t matter who you were. If you played well, you got an opportunity.” At one point, Housie even pitched, the final inning of a 16-6 loss to the Binghamton Mets on April 19. He did not allow a run and thus sported a career 0.00 earned run average.11
All in all, however, he was not able to play well enough. Again, his knees bothered him, but he also suffered from shoulder pain. Nonetheless, he appeared in 112 games, but batting .225 in Double-A the year he turned 29 – even though he drove in 40 runs – was not a recipe for promotion. The year was his final one in the U.S. minors.
As 1995 began, Housie continued to play – in Mexico, for Los Leones de Yucatán, based in Mérida. (He’d previously played winter ball with Los Mochis of the Mexican Pacific League.) He hit .239 with one homer and 21 RBIs in 46 games.
Housie then began to play independent baseball with the Sonoma County Crushers (Western League) of Rohnert Park, California.
There was an incident, though, which drove him to the decision to leave the sport. After a game with Sonoma early in the season, he changed at the hotel and got into his rental car to head to a team party. As he started to pull out, one car ahead of him and one behind, a fourth car swerved in and almost hit him. He was accosted by several white men yelling obscenities at him. When he stepped out of the car to try to resolve the situation, “I get hit by somebody I don’t see. They’re calling me the ‘n-word’ the whole time, just racial slurs. Next thing I know, I wake up in an ambulance and my right eye, I can only see double out of it. There’s blood. It’s puffed up. I had two surgeries to get that straightened out and that’s the whole reason that I didn’t go back to baseball.
“I’m a big believer and if God just didn’t feel like it was time for me to go back – it was time to do something else… By the time it was healed, I went and did something else. God probably thought it was time for me to stop.”12
He had started a family; his first son, Wayne Jr., was born in 1993. Another son, Joshua, was born in 2002. He was married for 23 years but it ultimately ended in divorce. With a new partner, Housie now has a third child, a daughter, Elena, born in 2020.
After recovering from the attack, he did indeed leave baseball. “I went to work for Target as an assistant manager in Norco, California (near Riverside).” After a couple of years with Target, he moved to Kmart and became a store manager, first in Long Beach and then in Hacienda Heights. He did well there and was brought to Los Angeles to run a store off Vermont and Slauson.
“Ran that store and then next thing I know I got promoted to district manager and I did that for 15 years. All I did was travel around, look at different stores, trying to help people develop, motivate leadership. Then I got laid off.” He moved over to Family Dollar, based in Bakersfield, and was district manager there for a while.
Housie had realized the vision he’d had at a young age, wearing the suit and tie and bearing a briefcase.
Then came another calling. “Once I left there, I started doing what’s called coaching. Life coaching. It’s helping people develop, helping people honing their skills, honing their craft, their voice. I learned to be a coach from the John Maxwell Training Program.” As a manager in retail, he had read Maxwell’s books. He wound up in the program and became a certified team member. He worked with Maxwell for six years, then struck out on his own.
“Since then, I have a company called Change Your Life Coaching.” He works both directly with individuals and for corporations, “catching the spirit of possibility [and] igniting a fire within people to achieve great things.”13
“That’s what I do on a day in/day out basis. I talk to people, and I help people develop. Some people just want to do growth. And I do keynote speaking. You can book me and say, ‘Hey, I want you to come talk. It’s going to be at a conference, and you’ll be on stage for 20 minutes. I talk on motivation. I love what I do.”
Last revised: May 24, 2022
Sources and acknowledgments
In addition to the sources cited in the Notes, the author consulted Baseball-Reference.com, Retrosheet.org, SABR.org, the Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball, and La Enciclopedia del Beisbol Mexicano. Thanks to Alan Cohen, Rory Costello, Rod Nelson, and to Wayne Housie.
This biography was reviewed by Rory Costello and Jake Bell and fact-checked by Jeff Findley.
1 In an interview with the author on November 19, 2021, he said, “I never dreamed of playing in the big leagues. That was never a dream. For some reason, I always thought I was going to be somebody who wore a suit and tie every day and carried a briefcase. I had dreams like that.” Unless otherwise indicated, all direct quotations attributed to Wayne Housie come from this interview.
2 The school is now Riverside City Junior College.
3 Dan Shaughnessy, “The Show is suddenly Wayne’s world,” Boston Globe, September 18, 1991: 63.
4 Vic Bernstein, “Winning with locals boosts Britsox gate,” Hartford Courant, August 12, 1990: E10.
5 Don Amore, “Housie rallies Britsox,” Hartford Courant, August 21, 1990: F5.
6 Amore, “Housie raliies Britsox.”
7 Don Amore, “Britsox win 3-2 in 12th on Housie’s home run,” Hartford Courant, June 17, 1991: C2B.
8 Nick Cafardo, “Disc plagues Burks,” Boston Globe, September 17, 1991: 31.
9 Dan Shaughnessy.
10 “Names and Numbers,” Los Angeles Times, September 22, 1991: 10. The Red Sox ultimately finished second in the AL East, seven games behind the Toronto Blue Jays.
11 Paul Doyle, “Binghampton starts fast, breezes past Britsox, 16-6,” Hartford Courant, April 20, 1994: C3A. Remembering it in 2021, Housie said, “They told me when I went in there, ‘Don’t throw hard. Don’t throw curve balls or anything like that.’ They didn’t want me to hurt my arm. I just went in there and threw mainly fast balls, but it was fun.”
12 “They were skinheads. Not nice people. And I just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. I fought back. I wasn’t just going to take a beating from anybody, but…I tried to resolve it. I don’t know why these people were telling things at me. I don’t know these people. They don’t know me. It was racially motivated.”