Orioles Card "O" the Day

An intersection of two of my passions: baseball cards and the Baltimore Orioles. Updated daily?

Friday, August 23, 2013

Vintage Fridays: Matt Batts, 1955 Bowman #161

I'm getting married in three weeks, which has cut into my card-buying budget in a big way. It turns out that there are a few things that I prioritize above my hobby, and throwing a big ol' party to celebrate the fact that I somehow attracted a life mate is tops on the list. But I did have a chunk of Amazon rewards money, so I went vintage shopping earlier this week to scratch that itch. I filled a few needs in my 1956, 1959, and 1975 Topps sets and plucked a few oldie-but-goodie Orioles cards for good measure. One of those O's was a guy who never played a single game for the team, a curiosity that put this Matt Batts card near the top of my must-have list.

Batts, who has one of the most fitting surnames ever bestowed upon a ballplayer, was a part-time catcher for parts of 10 seasons (1947-1956). He also served in the United States Army Air Corps during World War II. He spent the bulk of his big league career in Boston and Detroit, and peaked with the Tigers in 1953, setting career highs by playing in 116 games and hitting 24 doubles and six home runs and driving in 42 runs. Matt batted .278 that year, a few ticks above his .269 career average. The following season, he was diagnosed with hemhorraging stomach ulcers, which contributed to a downturn in performance and playing time.

It was December 6, 1954 that the White Sox traded Batts to the Orioles as part of a seven-player deal, one of many multi-player transactions that new manager Paul Richards made to overhaul Baltimore's roster. The veteran catcher didn't make it through spring training with his new club; he was sold to Cleveland's AAA team in Indianapolis on April 12. Matt later claimed that Richards sent him packing after he'd questioned the manager's instructions to throw underhand in a rundown drill. Whether that was Paul Richards' true motive or not, it makes for a funny anecdote.

Matt Batts retired from baseball in 1957 and moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana with his wife Arlene and their two daughters. The couple ran a successful printing business for many years, and eventually sold their business and retired to the Country Club of Louisiana. Matt passed away just last month at age 91.

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