Sunday, May 10, 2015

Baseball card stories from Ray Peters

Ray Peters was the Seattle Pilots' number one draft pick in 1969. Though he only pitched three years of professional baseball, he did make the major leagues with the Milwaukee Brewers in 1970. He kindly shared some great baseball card stories.

"First, I really do not "collect" cards in any real sense.  The only ones I have are of some teammates from my brief time in pro baseball - 1969-1971.  For example, Jim Slaton, Rick Auerbach, Buzz Stephen, Tom Kelly and Pete Koegel were teammates of mine from Clinton IA,  Jacksonville FL and Portland OR.

I have never been known for my brevity, so bear with me as I tell the story of my "one and only" mass produced card - #163 from the "Oddball" Set - Miller Milwaukee Brewers 25th Anniversary Set 1994.

When I was called up to the Brewers in June 1970, I recalled getting a photo taken by J. D. McCarthy or one of his photogs; don't remember if it was J.D. himself or not.  I was given or paid for (I don't remember which) a few 8x10s and 5x7s.  It is my favorite photo of yours truly, on one knee in Milwaukee County Stadium.  So, I've had this photo since 1970. 

Until the late 1980s, I never gave a thought ​to​ pro-baseball or any photos of me.  What I did know is that Topps never produced a card of me.   Sometime in the late-1980s, when both my sons were playing Little League or other organized youth baseball, for some reason I remembered that in 1971, when I was in the major league spring training camp for the Milwaukee Brewers, that Topps did take a photo of me.  Again, no card, but I remembered a photo being taken.  I didn't have it, but I remembered it being taken.

Well, I wrote Sy Berger at Topps around 1990,  I believe, and he sent me the negative of the photo.  When I received it I thought it would be neat to have a "custom or fantasy" Topps card of me made.  A friend of mine - a graphics artist - created a great "custom" card in a Topps 1971 Brewers format.  He used Skip Lockwood's 1971 card as a guide.  You can actually see Skip's card #433 on the back of my fantasy card. 

Okay, so now I had a "custom card" that I could send to autograph seekers and to kids in the neighborhood who were always asking for one from me.

So, from 1970 until 2001+/- those two images of me were the only ones of me in a big league uniform that I had and knew about.

Then around 2001 I received the Miller 25th Anniversary card in the mail from an autograph seeker.  I truly could NOT believe it.  Once again I knew nothing about the Miller set.  I now know that Miller and the Brewers could NOT use Topps photos.  Somehow someone must have contacted J. D. McCarthy and used a cropped black & white headshot from the photo for the Miller set.  Here's the front, low res and a link to the history of the set.

Around mid-2008 I got a number of  "fantasy cards" in the mail from 4 or 5 custom card makers of me in a Seattle Pilots uniform and another in a Brewers uniform.  I had NEVER seen these images before and didn't know they existed.  In fact, I had never seen myself in a Pilots uniform before!  I asked these card makers where they got the images and that's when I found out about the Topps Vault. 

Obviously, when I was in big league spring training for a few weeks with the Seattle Pilots in Feb-Mar 1969, before going back to finish my college degree, I must have signed up with Topps but didn't remember that happening either.  Also, I didn't realize at that time in '69 or in '71 that Topps took more than one photo of a ballplayer in spring training.  I thought the Topps negative that Sy Berger sent me was the only one of me from 1971.  Wrong!

Bottom line: I am one lucky guy to have gotten a small taste of the big leagues and to actually have a real mass produced baseball card, even though it was in an "oddball" set.

One more interesting thing about the McCarthy photo.  I have no idea whose baseball glove I am wearing!  All I know is that it wasn't mine.  Perhaps I was sitting in the dugout and suddenly I was called to have a photo taken (the scheduling of which I probably did not know anything about) and my glove was in the clubhouse, so I just grabbed someone's.  I just don't remember."



  1. Great story! I love it when you find a guy who really wants to share.

  2. Yeah, love reading stories like these.