Monday, January 23, 2017

A Venerable Old Card Part 42

It's been a tough weekend around the game of baseball with the loss of both Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura and former uber prospect Andy Marte.  I had originally planned to write about another card in this space this week, but switched over to another card after putting some thought into the matter.  I have seen Ventura pitch games on television, but he is a player that I have never actually seen in person.  He was a very talented pitcher who had a bright future in the game.

My best memory of Ventura comes from the 2014 World Series when he pitched the Royals into Game 7.  The game came on the heels of Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras being killed in a DUI car crash in the Dominican Republic, you can see the OT18 on his hat in the highlights from the game.

Great performance by Yordano.  I know he will be missed by many.  

I actually wanted to spend a little bit more time talking about Andy Marte though.  He was a player that I knew very well from my first summer living in North Carolina watching the Durham Bulls.  At that point the Minor League experience was a new scene to me after spending 20 some years living in St. Louis watching the Cardinals.  

I figured out the players on the Durham Bulls pretty quickly during that first summer in North Carolina.  There was a lot of talent on that roster including Delmon Young (the best prospect in the Minors at the time), Elijah Dukes, B.J. Upton, Ben Zobrist, Jason Hammel, Edwin Jackson, and James Shields.  I also had to figure out the scenery with other teams.  What players were must see attractions?

 One of the biggest stars was Indians prospect Andy Marte, who had previously been with the Braves Triple-A affiliate the year before.  Between 2003 and 2006 Marte appeared in the top 50 prospects according to Baseball America, with three of those years being inside the top 20.  There was a lot of pop in his bat and he was just 21 when he made it to Triple A.

While I spend a lot of time on here talking about my Durham Bulls cards, I also pick up cards of players on other teams that stand out.  Those players can be old, young, and everyone in between.  They just have to stand out in my mind....

Marte stood out and made a few appearances in my card collection.  The first Marte card I added to my collection after seeing him play during the summer of 2006 was a 2003 Topps Heritage Chrome card that I picked up at a card shop in Durham.....

Marte cards were a big deal back in those days.  I don't remember how much I paid for this card, but it was a lot more than the $1 or so that it sells for now on Ebay.  While Marte never really made it big in the Majors, as a Minor League baseball fan, I ran into him several times over my years watching baseball in Durham.  Most recently I saw him with the Indianapolis Indians (Pirates) back in 2011.  He was older, definitely not a prospect at that point, but it was good to see him again.

Over the last few years I have backed into a few really nice Marte cards in the cheapy bins at card shows or ones with no bids in the last few seconds on Ebay.  While the Topps Heritage Chrome will remain my favorite, I have found several others which would have been gems long ago that are now just cool cards to look at and reminisce.

Just to throw out a second card of Andy, this is my favorite of my card show finds....

This would have cost a pretty penny back in 2003.  Sad to have lost Andy Marte at a young age, glad I could share a few cards with all of you.  

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