Saturday, March 10, 2012

Rico Carty (#35)

Rico Carty was the Braves' regular left fielder in the mid-to-late 1960s. I remember him most as the first player to get a starting all-star berth as a write-in candidate.

Carty was signed by the Braves in October 1959, and played 4 seasons in the minors before making his major-league debut in September 1963. During his first 3 seasons in the minors, he was exclusively a catcher. In 1963, he played both catcher and outfield.

During his rookie season in 1964, Rico compiled a .330 batting average (2nd behind Roberto Clemente). He also finished 2nd in the NL Rookie of the Year voting behind Richie Allen.

Carty hit over .300 during the 1965 and 1966 seasons, while his defensive shortcomings were nicely hid as the left fielder. He also started 14 games behind the plate in 1966, despite regular catcher Joe Torre being in the lineup at 1st base (I can't figure that one out!)

After an off-year in 1967, Rico missed the entire 1968 season due to tuberculosis, but roared back with batting averages of .342 in 1969 and a league-leading .366 in 1970. That season he also hit 25 home runs, collected 101 RBI, and was in the starting all-star lineup despite not being on the ballot.

Carty missed another entire season (1971) with a knee injury, and was never the same after that. Following the 1972 season, he was traded to the Rangers, and spent the remainder of his career bouncing around to several teams (primarily the Rangers, Indians, Blue Jays) as a DH and some-time outfielder.

Carty retired after the 1979 season.