Gary “The Kid” Carter

01011101I’m finally getting around to another Gary Carter post.  Quite ironic as the original intent of this entire blog was to give me an online spot to showcase and discuss my Carter collection.  I’ve been collecting anything and everything pertaining to Gary Carter since I guess around 1987.  Needless to say, I have quite a collection.

My wife thinks its weird and I think she felt I crossed the line when I bought a polo shirt that Gary had worn at one of his charity golf tournaments.  She wants to know why I’m buying clothes worn by other men.

She clearly doesn’t “get it”.


One of my favorite pieces is this post card of Gary.  The painting was done in 1989 by Jeffrey Rubin and was featured in a book containing about 25 other baseball related post cards.  The book was released in 1990 and simply carries the title of “Baseball”.  I received the book as a gift from my parents for Christmas.  I’ve since lost most of the other cards in the book.  This one survived the past 26 framed and displayed proudly on a bookshelf.

Card collectors will instantly recognize the image as it is also featured on Gary’s 1989 Score baseball card.  I may be biased, but I think that card is one of the more iconic cards of that set.

THE Cincinnati Reds!? Yes, you failed to mention that…

01101205The other day I was going through some old Sports Illustrated issues and came across this issue from October of 1990.  I had sent this to Chris Sabo the year after the Red’s World Series sweep of the A’s.

Sabo was a hero to all little leaguers with bad vision because he made it cool to wear those goggles.  Before the plastic goggles, kids just had to wear their regular glasses. Back in the 80’s and 90’s, contact lenses weren’t really an affordable option for many of us.  I was fortunate enough to have vision that didn’t go south until high school so I didn’t have to deal with glasses or goggles.

Thinking back to this time period, I think it was the summer before 5th grade that I met a new kid in the neighborhood.  Probably 1989 or 1990 I’d say.  His name was Zach and we had a lot in common.  Naturally, we spent most of the summer fishing in the pond by our house, swimming in his pool, or playing catch.  Both of us were big baseball fans so one thing was for sure, whether we were fishing, swimming or playing – we were definitely TALKING about baseball.

We spent a lot of time tossing the ball around his front yard and while I played little league that summer, Zach had just moved to town so he never made it onto a team that year.  I remember one particular evening, Zach and I were playing catch and his step-dad pulled up in the driveway.  He gets out of the car, pops his trunk and pulls a well-worn catcher’s mitt out.  He motioned for the ball  and joined in.  After a few tosses, he gave Zach and I a few quick pointers on the fundamentals of throwing.  He was clearly a little bit more educated on baseball fundamentals than the average dad with a glove in his trunk.   I thought he would make a great little league coach one day.

We continued to toss the ball around as he shared a few stories about guys named Tony Perez, Joe Morgan, and Pete Rose.  He tossed a few more and then headed in the house.  I asked Zach how his dad knew so much about those guys and this is the part that I will never forget for the rest of my life…

As Zach tossed the ball back to me and just as casual as one could say it, Zach says,

“Yeah, he was a catcher for the Reds.”

Wait.  What?!

Now we had been buds for all of 5 weeks, we talked about baseball every chance we had, and never ONCE had this come up.

Not one single time.

I felt betrayed.  I had never been so mad in my life.  That summer I had major-league royalty right under my nose the entire time and didn’t even know it.  How could this family factoid be something that he didn’t see the need in sharing?

For the life of me, I cannot remember Zach’s step-dad’s last name.  Over the years, whenever I think about it, I’ll run a few Google searches to see if I can find any pictures of the guy.  I remember seeing some pictures of him with the big-name Reds players.

Thinking back, it was never a team picture that he showed me.  Only single pictures of him with guys like Rose, Concepcion, or Perez.  He was in the full uniform and definitely on the field with those guys.  As I try to piece together those memories, I think he may have been a bullpen catcher  in the mid 70’s or something.   Crazy to think that he may have been part of that World Champion ’76 team.

Zach moved a few years later and we lost touch.  His old house is still there and I drive by it when I go see my parents.  Every time I see his front yard, I remember the day that kid told me that his dad was a professional baseball catcher like it was nothing.



TTM Success – Ryne Sandberg

01211203Good Sunday evening everyone!  I hope everyone had a great weekend.  The sun came out today which was a welcome sight as we’ve been in a relentless weather pattern here lately which has brought what seems like nothing but rain and clouds for the past few weeks.

Even a rainy day can be made better when a TTM return shows up.  Yesterday it was a great return from Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg.

Mr. Sandberg added a nice bold signature on my 2011 Topps Tier One and I think it looks great.  I’ve always liked his signature despite the illegibility of it.    It’s always seemed like a “curvy” signature to me and seems to combine both his first and last name.  Doesn’t hurt that the card is just absolutely beautiful as well.  Topps really hit a home-run with the design on these Tier One cards.

Despite breaking into professional baseball as a 3rd baseman in the Phillies organization, Ryne is widely considered one of, if not THE greatest second-bagger in the history of the game.  During his 11 year career, Sandberg earned 9 Gold Gloves (’83-’91), 7 Silver Sluggers (1984, 1985, 1988–1992), NL MVP (1984), and was nominated to the All Star Team 10 times (’84-’93).  Sandberg was inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2005 with just over 76% of the votes.

Despite bleeding Met’s blue and gold, growing up as a baseball fan in the ’80’s I could not help BUT be a Sandberg fan.  It didn’t hurt that I hung with a best-bud who’s family was from Chicago.  Needless to say, there were lots of Chicago Cubs (and Bears) posters and cards in his room and even more debates on who was better, Backman or Sandberg.

I don’t think I ever really had much of an argument.  Backman may have a WS ring (’86) but he’s far from a Hall of Famer.