In the dark ages of card collecting, before the internet, before Beckett magazine, before cable, there was Baseball Digest, maybe Sports Illustrated, and, for instant information, the card back.
That's all I had to go on when I pulled a card like this. And I remember pulling a card like this. My next two questions were "who the heck is this guy?" and "why is his name 'Shooty'?"
So, the next move was flipping the card over, upon which I saw this:
Early 1980s Fleer is delightfully uninformative. So, other than reveling in the fact that someone named Shooty once played for a team called Medicine Hat, I am no more aware than before I turned over the card.
Fortunately, in 1982, there was more than one option for your cards, and I was lucky enough to pull a second Shooty that year, this one from Topps.
Shooty is a little more delighted by what he sees in the distance than on his Fleer card. And, looking at the signature, I now know that "Shooty" was a nickname. His real first name is "Mock," or at least that's what the signature reads.
Perhaps if I turn the card over, I can find out more about the terrific nickname of Mock.
Well, I now know such trivial facts as Charlie Hough recording 18 saves in three months in 1977 and something about Carl Yastrzemski's 11,000th at bat (it's worded terribly). But nothing about Shooty other than he went 2-for-4 on 4-15-81.
So far, the card backs are getting me nowhere. If the internet was around, I would have had his nickname down, the top five worst things about Shooty Babitt ever, and acquired several computer viruses by now.
Let's move on to the Donruss card of Shooty from 1982 -- yep, I pulled all three Shooty cards in 1982. I'm sure at this point I was frothing at the mouth, screaming from the third floor of some building, "BLOODY HELL, WHO IS THIS GUY?"
Unfortunately, Donruss commits the ultimate baseball card faux pas and misspells Babitt's last name. They stuck an extra "B" in there. Hey, why not, right? His first name has two "O"s, his last name has two "T"s, throw another "B" on the grill!
But I'll turn the card over and see if Donruss can redeem itself.
This is where you have to admire Donruss over Topps. Not only do you find out that Babitt's real first name is "Mack" (not "Mock"), but he went to the same school as manager Billy Martin.
And -- there it is! -- Babitt was nicknamed by his father because a local DJ couldn't stop saying the word "Shooty" (sounds like the DJ might have been having a breakdown).
What a novel idea, actual information about the featured player on the back of the card.
Donruss even gets Shooty's last name right here.
So if we're scoring Shooty Babitt cards, here is the point total:
Donruss would win in a beatdown if it had spelled his name right on the front.
Those would be the only nationally produced cards of Shooty Babitt. He'd be sent down to the minors the next year, and Martin is credited with saying, "If you ever see Shooty Babitt play second base for me again, I want you to shooty me."
Babitt later became a scout, is now a studio and broadcast booth guy for the Oakland A's, and his son played rookie ball in the Dodgers organization the past two years.
Oh, and Babitt is known for singing R Kelly on the air.