Clutch Hits – Carl Mathias
First, how about Dee Gordon? Gotta love seeing the Dodgers rebound after a blown call should have had the game tied up before the 9th inning even arrived…I’m calling it a favorable balancing decision by the baseball gods. I really feel like Dee Gordon is starting to come around too…as scrappy as this Dodger team is I can’t wait until Matt Kemp is back healthy and maybe even a potential deal for Ryan Dempster. How this team continues to win still baffles/scares/surprises me on a daily basis.
I’ve been slowly organizing and sorting my collection, which until a month or so ago was loosely organized into various sets but with no real sorting other than “this box has Heritage”. While putting together sets and figuring out dupes, trades, etc. for my recent yard sale I came across a 2009 Topps Heritage Real One Autograph of Carl Mathias that I honestly had forgotten I even had (isn’t it sad we end up with so many cards we forget hits like this?). I really like how Heritage does their autographs…on card and they’re the nice old-style cardboard that really takes to a sharpie signature (so much in fact that my next autograph project after the 88 Dodgers Project might be something more modern with a recent Dodgers team set from a Heritage release). Anyway, I got curious as to who and what this Mathias guy was all about so I used the internets and did some research…turns out like just about everything else in the world there’s more to this story than the card below indicates:
I think it’s really cool how Topps goes back and gets players like Carl Mathias to sign for these sets…it’s one of the cool parts about Heritage and keeps me coming back for more (even though my actual Real One hits are few and far between, boo to non-auto relic “hits”). It’s just a shame that a hobby box of Heritage doesn’t guarantee an autograph. Look at how well the Fan Favorites-style Topps Archives 2012 autographs have been received this year alone? This proves you don’t have to have a high-end list of autograph hits to stir up interest in today’s hobby market. I’m dying to get the Dodger autos from that set…and I’m talking about guys like Brett Butler and Maury Wills. Anyway, here is a look at the original 1960 Topps Carl Mathias card which the reprint is based…look not so closely and check out the key difference:
Notice anything different? I’m sure you did…firstly the Real One Auto has Carl playing for the Senators and the original has him with the Cleveland Indians. This discrepancy is what got me started…plus I also wanted to know what else Carl did as far as a major league career. You may have also noticed the now defunct SPORT Magazine has been replaced with Topps Magazine; which makes sense because the magazine finally ceased to exist in 2000 and I’m sure there are all sorts of legal-ramifications to having it on the reprint. The one change I thought I would see? A “Topps Certified Autograph Issue” in there somewhere like non-rookie star cards from the set have…but it’s suspiciously missing. I guess there wasn’t a convenient place to replace text with the designation for the rookie stars.
I’m not sure why they did it; Carl didn’t end up playing for the Senators until the 1961 season after he was picked in the expansion draft by Washington. Why did Topps choose to change the card? Carl had much better numbers in 1960 with Cleveland and he never saw the big leagues again after his 1961 campaign with Washington. There’s not a lot of history there, I found a dead link to a podcast from 2010 for the Reading Indians minor league team where Carl was the 2010 “King of Baseball Town” but unfortunately couldn’t hear more about his story. He hung around the minor leagues through the 1964 season in the Mets organization…never recapturing his earlier minor league success that seemed to prompt his promotion in 1960. As far as I can tell the 76-year-old still lives in his hometown of Bechtelsville, Pennsylvania. Here is a link where you might find some more history if you’re interested, mostly of Carl’s time with the Reading Indians and the aforementioned dead podcast links.
I thought this was cool. I love discovering older baseball players…you never know what sort of information you might find out.