Tuesday, September 8, 2015

#479 Todd Pratt

About the Front: The opposing catcher's left arm and mitt are peeking out at the bottom of the photo; I'm not sure I ever noticed that before.

About the Back: Ray Boone is of course the progenitor of the baseball-playing Boones, a two-time All-Star infielder who was active from 1948-1960. His son Bob made four All-Star teams while catching for the Phillies, Angels, and Royals (1972-1990), and grandsons Aaron and Bret had notable big league careers after this card was issued. Bret, in fact, will make his Topps debut at the tail end of this very set.

Triple Play:

1. After being cut by the Mariners in the spring of 1996, Todd was out of pro ball for the rest of the season. Instead, he worked as an instructor at Bucky Dent's baseball camp and supplemented his meager income by delivering pizzas for a Domino's in Boca Raton, FL. By the time he caught on with the Mets the following year, the slugging catcher had worked his way up to a manager's position at the pizza franchise.

2. His solo home run off of Arizona reliever Matt Mantei in the bottom of the tenth inning gave the Mets a walkoff win in the fourth game of the 1999 NLDS, clinching a trip to the NLCS.

3. He has been the only head baseball coach at West Georgia Technical College since the junior college began fielding a team in 2011.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: I couldn't find Pratt's home base of Chula Vista on a map back then, but 16 years later, I bought my first packs of 2009 Topps at a Target in that southern California city while visiting friends in San Diego. How far I've come.

Bill James Said: "He doesn't get much work behind Daulton, but is perhaps the best-hitting backup catcher in baseball." That certainly was the case in '93, when he batted .287/.330/.529 with five home runs in 95 plate appearances.

On This Date in 1993: September 8. Roger Salkeld, the Mariners' first-round pick (third overall) in the 1989 draft, makes his big league debut as Seattle's starting pitcher in Baltimore. Jay Buhner's first-inning two-run homer off of Fernando Valenzuela gives Salkeld a lead, but he is yanked by manager Lou Piniella with two outs and two on in the fifth inning, with the M's clinging to a 3-2 advantage. The Birds pull out a 6-3 win against the Seattle bullpen, with a Chris Hoiles home run tying the game in the sixth inning and a two-run single by Hoiles putting the home team on top for good in the bottom of the eighth.

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