Thursday, October 21, 2010

When I was 10, I wanted to be "Roy"

(*Sigh*) Nice try, Mr. Oswalt. Hope you're around for Game 6.

Anyway, ever since Roy Oswalt came over to the Phillies late in the regular season, there's been a lot of talk about the name "Roy." When you've got two dominant pitchers on the same team with the same first name, everyone falls all over themselves to come up with a cutesy title for the two of them.

Like you, I've suffered through the teeth-grating attempts at cleverness. And I've never heard more talk about the name Roy since the mid-1970s when Roy Scheider needed a bigger boat and Roy Clark was a-pickin'-and-a-grinnin'.

I was a mere lad of 10 back then, and the name Roy meant a lot to me. It's the reason why when I hear the name, I don't think of Oswalt.

And I don't think of Halladay (better be on your game Thursday, sir).

I don't even think of this guy.

I don't think of Roy Smalley, Roy Face or Roy McMillan either.

Instead, the person that I think of first just happens to be ...

... a life-long Yankee.

Roy White came into my life during a time when I was fascinated with the name "Roy." When you're a kid, you role play a lot and you're forever coming up with names for your character or names for your toys. "Roy" was the name I picked all the time. I liked the way it sounded. I liked the idea of being "Roy," whatever that meant.

When we played baseball in the backyard, many times we would pretend to be ballplayers. But we didn't pretend to be current ballplayers, because they already existed. We wanted to be someone undiscovered. A great untapped talent.

I wanted to be "Roy." The best power hitter the world would ever know.

So, I pronounced my name "Roy" before at-bats and proceeded to launch a tennis ball over the garage roof 40-50 feet away.

It wasn't long before I found out there was a major league baseball player named Roy. Without even thinking about it, he became one of my favorite players, just because of his name. When I was "Roy" while playing ball, it was now partly a tribute to Roy White. The Yankees hadn't become the evil force in my life that I know them to be now. They had not yet blotted out the sun.

But even after the team lied and cheated its way to wins over the Dodgers in the '77 and '78 World Series, I still liked Roy White. He didn't seem like the other Yankees at all. On a team filled with cranky, ego monsters and general boorishly behaved people, White faded into the background. He played virtually every game for New York between 1970 and 1977 without a stir. Roy Hilton White was my kind of player.

It's too bad he had to be a Yankee for all those years. It kept him from being my favorite non-Dodger of all-time. But as you are about to see, I won't hold it against him, because I'm about to devote the latest "Best of the '70s" post to Roy White.

It is time to see all of his 1970s Topps cards and then vote on the best one.

I know that means I'll have two polls going on at once. I find that annoying, as well. But this is too fun of an exercise. Even if you hate the Yankees with all your might and hope the team plane crashes into a steaming manure pit, you'll have fun voting in this poll. I guarantee it.

Here is the rundown:

1970: I once had this card, but traded it away. I remember being disappointed when I obtained this card as a teenager. Roy looked so dorky.

1971: An awesome horizontal card. White was known for two things as far as his batting stance: choking up on the bat, and the pigeon-toed positioning of his feet. You can see both of those here.

1972: Roy is starting to look like how I knew him here. I'm not sure where he is, but the stands are full.

1973: Not much of a difference between this one and the last one. Just a different camera angle.

1974: The mustache years begin. When I saw White with a mustache on his card, it shocked me. It just didn't look like him. Nice card, though.

1975: This is the card that stunned me when I saw that mustache. This is also one of the first cards that I ever ordered through the mail. I wanted the 1975 George Brett and Ralph Garr (cool photo), and of course I had to get the Roy White card.

1976: Hoo-boy. Those cap-less photos will kill ya. At least you can tell it's the '70s.

1977: This is the card that I think of when I think of Roy White. It's the White card that I have had the longest. It is so strange to see someone hold a bat like that.

1978: Almost all of the '78 Yankees cards are action cards, and this is one of the better ones. Plus you've got Carlton Fisk in the photo. This gets my personal vote as the top White card of the '70s.

1979: White looks a little like one of my friends that I knew back during this period. It's a nice shot of him peaking over his shoulder.

For disclosure's sake, I do not have the 1970 and 1973 cards in my collection. I have all the others.

OK, time to vote for your best Roy! The poll is over on the sidebar. Underneath ... er .. the other one.

And you thought I'd never fit a career Yankee into one of these.


  1. If Roy White played most of his career in any other era post Ruth, he'd be an HOF lock. He's better than some in the HOF (thanks Frankie Frisch and your nepotism), but to me he's in the Hall Of Very Good (I'm pretty strict HOF wise).

    For the most part, he played in an era that most all Yankee fans and sportswriters want to forget.

    I remember him in the WS for the Yanks at the end of his career. He exuded quiet grace, which was NOT the MO for Reggie, Billy, and the rest.

  2. whenever I hear the name Roy, I think of the movie Die Hard.

    every time.


  3. I saw enough of the Yankees yesterday afternoon thank you very much.

  4. It's a toss-up between the 1971 and 1978 cards. I'll go with 1971 -- Topps needs to do a horizontal set.

  5. You need a spot for a non vote since they are all Yankee cards.

  6. Never heard of him (before my time), but cool story.

    Switch hitter too?

  7. Its funny, when I was a kid playing backyard baseball I never announced my self as a power hitter. I always went with Lou (Whitaker), Ozzie (Smith) or Scott (Fletcher)... I went through a Hubie (Brooks) phase and I guess he had some pop... My fav is the '78, but the horizontal wide angle view of the '71 is awesome!

  8. I've met Roy twice now, and both times he was really cool to me. He seems like a great guy and I appreciate that a Yankees hater can appreciate some of the underrated great players of the game!!! The 78 is best btw by far, its a nice card