#CardCorner: 1973 Topps Carmen Fanzone
Hall of Fame staffers are also baseball fans and love to share their stories. Here is a fan's perspective from Cooperstown.
In posing for his 1973 Topps card in a photograph that was taken at Shea Stadium, Carmen Fanzone is shown clearly holding a bat. For a moment, imagine that bat to be a trumpet. In a sense, that would have been a far more appropriate—and creative—choice for a Fanzone baseball card. While the third baseman-second baseman often struggled with the bat—arguably the most important instrument for an everyday player in the major leagues—he repeatedly proved himself more than capable when it came to handling a musical instrument.
Like many major leaguers, Fanzone found the bat to be difficult to master, but in contrast to most big leaguers, he had little trouble in the world of music. At the tender age of 8, Fanzone started playing the trumpet. In high school, he performed capably for a band in Detroit, eventually majoring in music at Central Michigan University. Fanzone’s dedication to music didn’t prevent him from pursuing baseball, however. “If I wasn't going to a band rehearsal,” Fanzone told writer Jerry Crowe of the Los Angeles Times, “I was going to a baseball practice, or vice versa.”
As a ballplayer, Fanzone began his professional career in 1964, when the Boston Red Sox signed him as an amateur free agent. (It was the final year before the amateur draft, so Fanzone had his choice of signing with any team.) The Red Sox signed him to their NY-Penn League affiliate at Wellsville (located about 200 miles from Cooperstown); Fanzone immediately made a strong impression by hitting 21 home runs, putting up a 1.165 OPS, and playing three different positions: second base, shortstop, and third base. The Red Sox liked what they saw so much that they promoted him to full-season A-ball by the end of his first summer.
Bruce Markusen is the manager of digital and outreach learning at the National Baseball Hall of Fame