Monday, September 26, 2011

Another "WTH?!" Picture

Here's another one of the many "Who is that?!" pictures that appeared in the 1973 Topps baseball card set:

Card #45 -- Ellie Rodriguez, Milwaukee Brewers

The picture shows the catcher getting ready to throw to second. It's not clear whether this is a steal attempt...the other Brewers player behind him indicates a pitcher (the visible "2" on his jersey indicates he's either Skip Lockwood or Bill Parsons) is backing him up at the plate, but the batter is still holding a bat in his hand. Since the umpire's backside takes up a full third of the card, he covers up any clues.

There's one thing for certain. The catcher shown isn't Rodriguez, it appears to be Paul Ratliff. If that's correct, it would be the only card Ratliff would have in the set, since he never had a Topps card since 1971 and played his final major league games the next year. But he's not the guy who we're discussing.

Ellie Rodriguez was one of few Puerto Rican-born catchers of his era. He played for five different teams between 1968 and '76, with the Brewers being his longest stay. He came up as a Yankee, was an original member of the Royals and later caught Nolan Ryan's fourth no-hitter with the Angels. His final season was spent with the Dodgers in 1976.

Ellie Rodriguez went into scouting after his retirement and still performs that task today.


  1. I don't think that's the batter behind the catcher. I think it may be George Scott and that's a glove not a bat in/on his hand. I'm guessing the catcher caught a pop-up and that is why there are three players near the ball and the catcher is just holding a runner to his base. This may be the 5th inning of the June 3, 1972 game where a lot of the clues fit (at home, Ratliff catching, Parsons pitching, man on base, catcher made put-out). Or maybe it's not. Fun to look for the play in any case.

  2. I thought this was listed as John Felske in the picture.

  3. I used to think it was Felske too, then I read an interview where he said it definitely wasn't him in the picture. My Standard Catalog says it's Ratliff.

    The confusion over who's shown led to the purposefully vague description.

  4. It is Ellie Rodriguez. Several cards in the 1973 Topps set were taken at the game in Milwaukee on June 17, 1972. In addition to this card, Bill Parsons (with Ron Theobald in the background), Ray Newman in relief, for the Brewers. Then, Amos Otis (with Ellie Rodriguez # 6 catching), Ed Kirkpatrick (with Johnny Briggs at bat), and Paul Splittorff for Kansas City. Look up the box score for June 17, 1972. It all falls into place.

  5. See video here that proves it IS Ellie Rodriguez in the photo: