Monday, March 5, 2012

Zero-Year Cards, Part 24

1970 Topps #603 Ray Oyler (A's)

I'm fairly certain that this is the oldest "zero-year" card that I own.

I know there's a few pre-1970 "zero-year" cards out there, notably the '62 Topps Robin Roberts that lists him as a Yankee, but I don't yet have any in my collection.

Jim Bouton's Ball Four is one of my favorite baseball books. Ray Oyler is a key part of many of my favorite portions of it. It's not surprising that Bouton and Oyler seemed to develop a rapport on that 1969 Seattle Pilots team, because they were quite a pair of characters.

Oyler is one of the more interesting figures in baseball that not a lot of people know about. He may well have been the worst hitter in history. He played in the majors from 1965 to 1970 for the Tigers, Pilots, and Angels.

He had a career batting average of .175 in those six years.

In his final year in Detroit in 1968, Oyler hit an anemic .135 in 215 at-bats. His fielding is (obviously) what kept him in the majors.

In what would become the only season in Seattle Pilots history, Oyler hit .165 with seven homers. However, he was a fan favorite, so much so that Pilots fans started a Ray Oyler fan club.

The Pilots became the Milwaukee Brewers shortly after the 1969 season ended. In December of '69, the Brewers dealt Oyler and pitcher Diego Segui to the A's for infielder Ted Kubiak.

Oyler would be purchased by the Angels before ever suiting up for the A's. (Segui would go on to lead the American League in ERA in 1970.)

Oyler's 1970 Topps issue is one of my favorite cards in the entire set. Other than the fact that it's a "zero-year" card, I'm not quite sure why. I picked it up for fifty cents at the flea market last summer, and I've cherished it ever since. One thing I've noticed: This is as much green as you'll ever see on a card. The uniform, the grass, and the outfield wall. All green.

It might be my all-time favorite "zero-year" card.


Hackenbush said...

OK, I had a really weird thought while looking at your card. I pictured Mr. Oyler in the same pose transported somehow to the old west, wearing a beat up old cowboy hat and holding a couple of pistols. No, I'm not high on anything.

Anonymous said...

I saw him go 3-4 in McLain's second win of his 31-win season, April 1968, my first game in Yankee Stadium. Obviously didn't get too many more.