Monday, August 19, 2013
Cards That Never Were #56
The history of baseball cards is littered with players who appear on cards with teams which they never played for in a major league game. Some of these phantom players only appeared in spring training games. Some sat for a brief time on the bench, but never made it into a game. Some were traded away before they ever appeared in a game. There are thousands of stories for thousands of players.
Jim Kaat was released by the St. Louis Cardinals on July 6, 1983, almost a week after his last MLB game. Since he didn't catch on with another team during the 1983 season, this effectively ended a brilliant and long twenty-five year career that started back in 1959 with the Washington Senators.
Fast forward to 1984. Jim Kaat gets an invitation to spring training by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Ultimately, Kaat did not make the team out of spring training, but this seems like the kind of story that would eventually lead to a phantom player card. There were photos of Jim from that spring training, but it wasn't until the last year or two that these decent photographs started to leak out. Nearly thirty years in the making... here's what the 1984 Topps Jim Kaat card most likely would have looked like.