The following summer, Zellers paired with the Montreal Expos and put out a 60 card set of Baseball Pro Tips. Cards were distributed in 20 panels of three cards.
I remember making my way to the mall to get the cards, especially the Gary Carter ones! I don't remember how they were given away, but imagine it wasn't with purchase because I don't think that I would have had as many as I did. If you had asked me a month ago, I would have figured that of course I had collected the whole set at the time, separating the panels into their individual cards, and putting elastics around them with the rest of my cards at the time.
I recently picked up a full set of cards still attached in panels. Looking at them, I'm now sure that I didn't have them all. I didn't remember there being 20 panels/60 cards. I'm still sure I had all the Carters, but a lot of the others seem new to me.
I hope to eventually show all of the cards, but this post will look at those of my hero, Gary Carter.
Gary Carter had five of the twenty panels, broken down as follows:
Cards 1A - 1C - Catching Position
Cards 6A - 6C - Fielding Pop Fouls
Cards 13A - 13C - Fielding Low Balls
Cards 16A - 16C - Catching Stance
Cards 19A - 19C - Hitting Stride
|Remember to read the tips from right to left to match the card photo above|
I credit catching with making me not afraid of the ball. Later in life, in a men's baseball league, I often led my team in being hit by pitches because I wouldn't really make a serious effort getting out of the way. I would twist my body enough to make it look to the umpire that I was trying to avoid the ball but had no problem letting myself get hit in the arm or the thigh. I once remember an opposing catcher trying to call me out to the ump as not having tried to move out of the way but the ump still gave me first base. BTW, the other catcher was right!
Now, I only played around with other stances when there wasn't anybody on base. If there was a runner on base I would be prepared to shift my body to throw to whatever base I might need to.
As for the hand placement, as a kid my throwing hand would be solidly behind my back. As I got older, and when I played in the men's league, my hand would mostly hang behind my right leg/shin. That got me in trouble once when instinct took over and made me grab for a foul tip that jammed my thumb nail into my thumb. That hurt.
I was a good hitter, with good hand-eye coordination that was mostly a contact hitter when I was young that developed power when I got bigger.
As with most Canadians, I think my baseball swing was influenced by my hockey playing. I shot left in hockey, and batted left in baseball. Like a lot of left-handed batters I liked the low ball.
And writing all of this has made me realize just how much I miss playing baseball.
The tips on these cards seem so basic now but I know that I loved reading them when I was a kid.
And of course, seeing these tips remind me of another avenue of instruction that I had as a kid with another catcher, Johnny Bench. Does anyone else remember "The Baseball Bunch"? What other avenues of baseball instructional tips do people remember?