I just came across an interesting bit thanks to the guys at SABR (once again), that listed the Major Leaguers with the most career at-bats or innings pitched who never had a Topps card.
Sure most of the guys were journeymen without a substantial big league resume, but there were a couple of names that stood out to me, most notably former Indian slugger Tony Horton.
I was really surprised by this since I was convinced there was a card for him at some point, and that it was something I had in my collection.
But low-and-behold, except for a Kelloggs card in 1971, there wasn't a regular-issue card of the tragic figure who left the game at a young age amid inner-turmoil.
Well, since my blog deals with the 1970's, I went ahead and designed a card for him in the 1970 and 1971 set since he retired during the 1970 season.
Today I post up my 1970 design. Take a look:
Horton originally came up with the Boston Red Sox in 1964 as a 19-year old, appearing in 36 games, hitting .222 with a homer and eight runs batted in.
After a couple of more sporadic seasons bouncing between the Majors and Minors with Boston, Horton was traded to the Cleveland Indians in 1967 for pitcher Gary Bell, and finally got some full-time work with the parent club.
After a couple of decent years he really came into his own in 1969, hitting .278 with 27 homers and 93 runs batted in on 174 hits in 625 at-bats.
1970 started out well for the young slugger, as he had a three-homer game against the Yankees as well as hitting for the cycle on July 2nd against the Orioles, but after a prolonged slump and constant booing from the fans, the emotional toll finally came to a head for Horton as he took himself out of a game on August 28th against the Angels.
It was the second game of a double-header, and he voluntarily left the game after the fifth inning.
Sadly, later that evening he attempted suicide, but luckily survived and eventually got treatment for his problems.
But as for his baseball career, he'd never appear in another Major League game again.
His former manager, Alvin Dark, stated that in his long baseball career, the Horton situation was the "most sorrowful incident I was ever involved in, in my baseball career."
Tony Horton was only 25 years old when he left the game, after only 636 games and seven years, and has always been a stark reminder of the pressures professional athletes have day to day that fans can easily overlook as they're entertained on an almost nightly basis for six-motnhs out of every year.
Tomorrow we'll take a look at my design for his "missing" 1971 Topps card.