How The Bat Boy Ended Up On Aurelio Rodriguez’s 1969 Topps Baseball Card
Aurelio Rodriguez was a slick fielding, rocket-armed, gold glove winning third baseman who enjoyed a 17 year major league career and batted .237 with 124 career home runs in just over 2,000 games with seven teams.
Though he is wearing a uniform, and the baseball card states that this is Aurelio Rodriguez, the California Angels third baseman, it is not.
In actuality the card shows Angels bat boy, Leonard Garcia, on what was supposed to be Rodriguez’s card #653, for 1969. The error was not divulged until 1973.
So how does a bat boy get on a baseball card?
There are two popular rumors/theories of how this happened. The first, was that the Topps photographer Continue reading
The Aaron’s, Clemente’s and Mays’ Of A Lesser Ilk
Roberto, Willie and Hank
In major league baseball history there was only one Ruth, Gehrig, Koufax, Medwick, Seaver and Carew. You know who is being referred to when you hear the name Mantle.
Yet there have been several Robinson’s, Johnson’s, Ryan’s and Smith’s of varying playing ability. Some were great, some were good, and others were let’s just say, not so great. If you say, “Robinson was a fantastic player,” you usually have to clarify which- Jackie, Frank or Brooks.
What if you were a professional ballplayer and your last name happens to be Jeter, but your first name is not Derek?
Sharing a baseball great’s last name can sometimes be a drag because comparisons may be drawn to your famous counterpart. You can be sure that with the exception of your family and close friends, most references by the baseball loving public to your last name, go to the superstar.
So as a professional ballplayer if you share that famous last name but you never achieved super-stardom, at least you can always say you had your name on a baseball card.
So which baseball card would you rather have?
Hank Aaron or….
Derek Jeter or…
Johnny Jeter? Continue reading
Dave Ricketts, St. Louis Cardinals, Topps Baseball Cards 1968 & 1969
It is an unfair characterization to say Dave Ricketts could have easily been mistaken for a high school biology teacher rather than a major league catcher. Players who wore eyeglasses in the 1960’s were still very much a rare breed. When I was a kid, every time I looked at these two baseball cards, I thought that Dave Ricketts never really got to play, but just posed for the card.
Ricketts did play sporadically, appearing in 130 total games for the St. Louis Cardinals from 1963-1969 and the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1970 and ended up with a .249 career batting average and one home run.
After his playing career ended, Ricketts became a fixture in the Cardinals organization mostly as the bullpen coach and minor league manager. Ricketts by all accounts was an excellent coach and had a large influence upon other players. Derrick Goold of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote about Ricketts after he passed away:
“I’m here because of him,” Yadier Molina said. “He made me into a catcher. I wasn’t a catcher when I got here. I learned a lot from him. He was like my dad, there for me since I was 17. He meant so much to me.”
“I’ve never seen a coach who has worked harder for whatever team he’s involved with than Dave Ricketts. Ever,” former Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Steve Blass said. “Totally dedicated. … He had a zest for life that was part of his personal life, and, thank goodness, we are better because it spilled over into his professional life.”
“Sometimes the word ‘great’ gets overused, and it’s a shame,” manager Tony La Russa said. “There have been some truly great Cardinals who have come through the organization, but I don’t know anyone greater or more beloved than Dave Ricketts.”
Dave Ricketts died in St. Louis at the age of 73 on July 13, 2008 of renal cancer.
Something Even Babe Ruth Couldn’t Do
I stopped collecting baseball cards in 1981 after it became speculative and was more about card values rather than flipping, trading and completing sets.
This was one of my favorite baseball cards simply because of the obviousness of the mistake and the fact that it was never corrected.
The Dave Bennett – Rick Wise rookie card from the 1964 Topps set is nothing extraordinary on the front. But on the back of Dave Bennett’s very short biography is this astounding piece of information:
“Dave is the younger brother of the Phils’ ace, Dennis Bennett. The 19-year-old righthanded curveballer is just 18 years old!”
Now that is some feat!