It all started during the Winter of 1970-71 while playing in the Dominican Republic, when Carty seriously injured his knee and saw him go from M.V.P. candidate to missing the entire 1971 season.
He came back in 1972 but only appeared in 86 games, batting .277 with six home runs and 29 runs batted in for the Braves.
During that off-season Atlanta traded Carty to the Rangers for pitcher Jim Panther, but the change of scenery didn't help him much as he hit .232 in 86 games before the Chicago Cubs purchased him from Texas on August 13th.
He only managed to get into 22 games for the North Siders, batting .214 before being sold to the Oakland A's about a month later.
His time in Oakland was minimum, as he appeared in only seven games, going 2 for 8 in a designated hitter role for the eventual World Champs.
However, all told for 1973, Carty DID get into 115 games, good for 384 at-bats. Yet when 1974 rolled around, Topps didn't have a card for him in their set.
Granted Carty was released by Oakland in December of '73, but you think there'd be a card for a guy who played a relatively full season AND was a star of some magnitude not too many years earlier.
After signing on with Cordoba in the Mexican League for the beginning of 1974, he was back in the Majors by August, signing on with Cleveland which rejuvenated his career.
As everyone saw immediately, Rico was not done as a Major League player by a long shot, coming back to post some solid years before finally retiring after the 1979 season.
As a matter of fact, in his second to last season in 1978, at the age of 38, he split the year between the Blue Jays and the A's, hitting 30 home runs and driving in 99 runs with a .282 average as a D.H.
Not too shabby a showing for a guy that was supposedly done as a professional four years earlier.
By the time he was done a year later, Carty ended his career with a batting average just under .300 at .299, with over 200 homers for six teams: the Braves, Rangers, A's (two stints), Cubs, Indians and Blue Jays.
Anyway, here's a "missing" 1974 card for Carty, showing him as an Oakland A's player since Topps would never have had him as an Indian.
|Depicting Rico's first, short-lived stint with the A's.|