Former Giants general manager Al Rosen, upon trading Mitchell to Seattle in '91, two days after the outfielder was cleared in a rape investigation, predicted Mitchell was destined to be the Dick Allen or Bobby Bonds of his time, flitting from one club to another. So, where to next?
Maybe another ball club will try to define Mitchell in 150 pages or less—and decide that he and all his scars are worth the trouble. Maybe some other general manager will dream that Mitchell can drive in 100 runs in a season, though he's done that only once. Life has never been a sure thing for someone who eats Vicks Vapo Rub because that was his grandmother's remedy for colds, who covers his body with industrial-strength liniment for games in inclement weather, who takes phone calls from convicts, who is always a box of Ring Dings from a trip to the disabled list and who has been known to playfully stretch the truth. That time the woman heaved a glass at his eye, for instance? Some eyewitnesses provided a different version: The woman bopped him with the glass after arguing with Mitchell.
"A lot of people have this bad image of me they get only from the newspaper," Mitchell says. "If I was younger, it would bother me. But they can say whatever they want. As long as my friends and family know who I am, that's enough. The thing is, I get along with everybody. I enjoy life. I enjoy meeting people."
There will be a Team Number 10 that will book his act, or Mitchell will take his toys and march back to the desert in his $1,800 combat boots for good. Either way, he will be having fun. This, after all, is a man who scoffed when Reds shortstop Barry Larkin once asked him before a big game if he was feeling pressure. "Pressure," Mitchell said, "is wearing a pair of handcuffs."