Monday, March 21, 2011

1979 TCMA Rochester Red Wings Baseball #5, Willie Royster

Baltimore drafted and signed a fresh-faced, 18 year-old Willie Royster in 1972 and immediately assigned him to their Appalachian rookie league, where he caught 41 games for the bucolic-in-name Bluefield Orioles. Today's card shows him in Rochester, their AAA team from 1961 to 2002.

Card front

For three years, from expansion in 1962 to 1964, Houston called themselves the Colt .45s in honor of the West's signature sidearm and featured a rarely seen "number logo." HOFer Joe Morgan started his MLB career wearing this hat, as did fellow #5 profilees Rusty Staub and John Bateman.
Seeing Royster's "50" hat brought that Houston team right to mind, but it actually marks Rochester's 50th anniversary as a MLB affiliate. Originally connected to St. Louis in 1929, the Red Wings now play for Minnesota and reign as pro baseball's longest-lived franchise. Check out my 1980 TCMA Rochester #5 profile for more team history.

Card back

Willie Royster got the briefest cup of major league coffee, just 4 games as a September call-up in 1981, but spent 11 seasons as a pro in the Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Detroit farm systems.

Value: This card cost $2 from, about right for non-star minor leaguers.

Fakes / reprints: Haven't seen any in the marketplace.

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