Chris Young now has a view of the game of baseball from one of its most unique vantage points. At 6-foot-10, the San Diego Padres right-hander shares second-tallest big league pitcher honors with the Randy Johnson. Both are an inch shorter than Jon Rauch.
02/12/2009 10:40 AM ET
Padres' Young saved for Nolan Ryan
Long, lean starting pitcher also collected Griffey Jr.
By George Castle / Special to MLBPLAYERS.com / MLBPLAYERS.com
Before he shot up to his distinctive height, Young followed baseball from another perspective -- via baseball cards. He was an avid collector growing up in Dallas.
Young recently shared his recollections with MLBPLAYERS.com.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Who were the players you collected?
Young: I remember going to a convenience store, buying a pack of cards and hoping there was a [Ken] Griffey Jr. rookie card in there. I remember the excitement when there was one in the pack and the disappointment when there wasn't. It was also the excitement about the type of player he was -- how athletic, how he played great defense and hit for average and power; also how his dad was a teammate of his.
Growing up in Texas, I was a big Nolan Ryan fan. I remember trying to find his cards. I remember going to a baseball card shop and using my allowance to buy a 1976 Nolan Ryan card. He was a hero of mine. It took a few weeks of my allowance to save up. I wanted a vintage card. My allowance couldn't add up to afford his rookie card, so I did the next-best thing.
[Some] of the Rangers at the time were Oddibe McDowell and Ruben Sierra. Julio Franco was one of my favorites. I remember one night getting Julio's autograph at a game on a card. I had an opportunity to have dinner with him last offseason, shared that story with him. I should have had him re-sign the card, but I didn't want to make him feel too old. He was super nice.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Do you still have these cards?
Young: Yes, the cards are at my parents' house. I'm sure I'll go through them and find some diamonds in the rough, some surprising cards I didn't know I had.
MLBPLAYERS.com: When did you first appear on a card?
Young: Probably T-ball, where you have a stick-on photo and favorite player on the back. My first pro card was the Hickory [N.C.] Crawdads. They had a couple of Crawdad team sets.
MLBPLAYERS.com: What's your favorite Major League card?
Young: That's a tough question. There's a couple I dislike. A couple are just facial shots. I just have to sign across my face because there's nowhere else to sign it.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Would you like to see the ultimate card -- Chris Young pitching to Chris Young, the Diamondbacks slugger?
Young: Maybe. That would be cool. I'd like to see one of me up to the plate instead of me pitching.
-- Red Line Editorial