1999 Just #147 Ricky Williams (Phillies)
Before I start, I'd like to officially welcome Manny Ramirez to the "zero-year club".
Topps jumped the gun and released a card of him as a member of the A's in this year's Series 2. Oakland released him yesterday.
We now have our newest "zero-year" inductee. There was a part of me that wanted to see him get another shot in the bigs, but I'll take a new zero-year addition.
Now we move from one polarizing figure to another.
I know what you're probably thinking with this "zero-year" installment. Yes, it's that Ricky Williams. The controversial NFL running back who liked to "light up" every now and then.
Before he became somewhat infamous, Williams was the top running back in the league. I was a much bigger fan of football as a kid than I am now, and he was one of the first great athletes I specifically remember watching.
What sometimes gets lost in the shuffle is that he played minor league baseball for a few years before he became a nationwide sensation in the NFL.
In 1995, the Phillies drafted him out of high school in the 8th round.
Just like many before him, Williams (an outfielder) struggled in the minors, never making it past single-A in the Phillies' system. This particular card probably captures him during his '97 season with the Piedmont Boll Weevils. (How great of a name is that?)
In four minor league seasons, he hit just .211 with four homers. He did steal 46 bases, a small sample of the speed that would later make him famous.
He was out of baseball by 1998. He'd begin his pro football career with the New Orleans Saints in '99, and the rest is history.
Normally, I don't include minor league cards amongst my "zero-year" inductees. A large number of players featured in sets like Just or UD Minors never made it to the bigs.
I made an exception for this card. It's just so out of the ordinary, which means that it's a perfect fit for this blog.
And yes, it was a dime box find, but it was one I passed on a few times. I used to see it week after week at the flea market, but I never pulled the trigger. I didn't think it would "fit" with my collection at the time. Why I thought that, I'll never know.
After weeks of deliberating, I finally decided to buy it. I'm glad I did. He slots in nicely next to fellow outfielders Danny Tartabull and Ed Delahanty in my Phillies binder.
I guess my collection really does have a little of everything.