#CardCorner: 1980 Topps Rico Carty
Hall of Fame staffers are also baseball fans and love to share their stories. Here is a fan's perspective from Cooperstown.
This 1980 Topps card was the last of Rico Carty’s career. By the time this photograph was taken (likely sometime in the spring of 1979), Carty had taken on the look of a grizzled, well-worn veteran. A few wrinkles appeared on his face, along with the lengthy sideburns and full mustache that became so fashionable in 1970s baseball.
Beyond his physical appearance, Carty takes a pose that epitomizes the posture of the wise veteran. With his left arm draped on the railing, Carty is gazing toward the playing field with that all-knowing look that has seen so much during a 15-year career that included stops with six different franchises. He looks like a leader, an ancient veteran whom his younger teammates can call upon for sage advice and counsel.
As it turns out, Carty did not actually play in 1980, the year that this Topps card was published. He was expected to do some DHing and some pinch-hitting for the Toronto Blue Jays that summer, but age finally caught up with the veteran hitter and his chronically sore knees. (As Carty’s former manager, Whitey Herzog, once said, the team trainer had “seen better knees on a camel.”) On March 29, during the final days of spring training, the Jays decided that the 40-year-old Carty could no longer help them. They released him, ending a professional career that had begun 21 years earlier.
Bruce Markusen is the manager of digital and outreach learning at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum