Infielder Matt Kata has spent parts of five seasons in the major leagues. Last year, at the Rangers AAA affiliate in Round Rock, he hit .293 with 13 HR and 71 RBI. He was re-signed by the Rangers in December. He kindly answered my questions about baseball cards.
"My first professional card with the South Bend Silver Hawks was pretty tight! I was at short and taking a throw from the catcher on a steal and blowing a bubble at the same time. Pretty cool shot for your first card. I always carried an old Chico Lind card with me of him making a jump throw with his legs spread in the air and also a Don Mattingly card where they sectioned his swing into 4 parts. Sweet swing. I was a big collector growing up. My dad shared an office with another doctor who had his own card shop and I got to see some pretty awesome cards; Mantle rookies etc. He gave me all the 1984 sets in a box and I remember thinking I had a gold mine; Clemens, Gooden, Mattingly, Strawberry. Donruss, Fleer, and Topps. Still have them. I bet I "flipped" away some good money on the playground though. And I love hearing the stories from all of my uncles about how my grandma burned Mantle rookie cards and a bunch of other expensive cards that were in the attic. Should have sold my mint McGwire USA card way back..."
Thanks! I couldn't find a picture of the South Bend card, but here is one from Upper Deck.