Ricardo Adolfo Jacobo Carty
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 3", Weight 200 lb.
- Debut September 15, 1963
- Final Game September 23, 1979
- Born September 1, 1939 in San Pedro de Macoris, San Pedro de Macoris, D.R.
Outfielder Rico Carty was one of baseball's most dynamic hitters of the mid- and late 1960s. Known to teammates as "Beeg Mon", he played 15 years in the majors, mostly during the sports's second dead-ball era. Carty typically had a high batting average, good power, and decent range in the outfield. He led the National League in batting in 1970, was second in 1964, and third in 1966. As outstanding as Carty's career was, he may have been Cooperstown-bound had he not suffered a variety of leg injuries and serious illness.
One of the first major leaguers to hail from now famous San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic, Carty played for the Dominican national team in the 1959 Pan American Games. He was signed in 1959 by the Milwaukee Braves and reached the Bigs for a cup of coffee in 1963. Up for good in 1964, he made a splash playing alongside Hank Aaron and having just as good a year, batting .330, slugging .554, and hitting 22 home runs in just 445 at-bats. Though more than enough any other year to win the Rookie of the Year Award, the Philadelphia Phillies' third baseman Dick Allen had an even better breakout season, earning an almost unanimous choice as 1964's NL top rookie pick.
Carty played with the Braves from 1963 to 1972. Through his first six full seasons his batting average stood at a robust .322, a terrific figure in an era when batting championships were being won with averages as low as .301.
The years, however, had not been easy. Leg injuries hobbled him repeatedly, and he suffered a sub-par 1967 and lost all of 1968 to a bout of tuberculosis. He missed 1971 completely with injuries suffered during winter baseball. In between those two lost seasons he showed the kind of player he could be if he could only stay on the field, putting up a terrific .342 BA./549 SA line in 104 games in 1969 and an even hotter 25/101/.366/.454 OBP campaign in 1971.
Destined by persistent ailment and advancing years for the made-to-order DH role, Carty moved to the American League in time for the position's debut there in 1973. He spent the season with three teams before settling in with the Cleveland Indians from 1974 to 1977, playing for the most part excellently. Selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 1977 expansion draft, he was traded back to Cleveland before the season, then sent back to Toronto once it was over. He split 1978 between the Blue Jays and the Oakland Athletics, hitting a career high (and then DH record) 31 home runs. He finished up as the Blue Jays' regular DH in 1979, becoming at 39 years, 339 days the oldest player in MLB history to hit his 200th home run that August.
In Carty's scorching early days comparisons were made to Roberto Clemente and the Pirate superstar's rising AL rival, Tony Oliva, whose own potential Hall of Fame path was likewise derailed by repeated leg injuries. By his career's end Baseball Reference's similarity scores shows his most similar player as Pedro Guerrero, a streaky thumper Bill James called baseball's best hitter of the 1980s.
Carty's 31-game hitting streak in 1970 was the Atlanta Braves record till passed by Dan Uggla in 2011. He is the all-time Dominican Winter League career Home Run leader with 59, and was elected to the Latino Baseball Hall of Fame in its Class of 2011. Carty is the uncle of pitcher Julio Santana. His cousin, Ramon Carty, played in the Dominican Republic but not in the Dominican League. His son, Rico Carty, Jr., played 16 games for the AZL Mariners in 1991.
- 1964 Topps All-Star Rookie Team
- NL All-Star (1970)
- NL Batting Average Leader (1970)
- NL On-Base Percentage Leader (1970)
- 20-Home Run Seasons: 3 (1964, 1970 & 1978)
- 30-Home Run Seasons: 1 (1978)
- 100 RBI Seasons: 1 (1970)
- Wynn Montgomery: "Rico Carty", in Chip Greene, ed.: Mustaches and Mayhem, Charlie O's Three-Time Champions: The Oakland Athletics 1972-74, SABR, Phoenix, AZ, 2015, pp. 384-391. ISBN 978-1-943816-07-1