As I work my way through the 750+ photos of ballplayers shot by Detroit photographer J.D. McCarthy from the late 1950s through the early 1980s, some of my favorite "finds" are images of players from my childhood card collecting days in the uniforms of teams other than those which they are most commonly associated.(Wow . . . a 54-word sentence!).
I've often found myself thinking, "I never knew he played for them." In some cases "he" didn't. The McCarthy photos are rife with pictures taken in spring training of players trying to extend their major league days with a new team, or players who worked their way through the minor league system of one team, only to finally make the show with another.
I'd like to share two of my favorite such photo finds with you.
The first is a picture of Clem Labine with the New York Mets.
The Mets were Labine's last team.
After pitching for the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers from 1950 through mid-June, 1960, Labine was traded to the Detroit Tigers. He was released by the Tigers two months later. He signed with the Pirates who, in turn, released him after the 1961 season.
The Mets signed him as a free agent for their inaugural season of 1962. He pitched only four innings for New York before being let go on May 1.
It's really too bad this McCarthy photo of Labine is in black-and-white; it would be fun to make a 1962-style custom card of him with the Mets. At that, it wouldn't be impossible for me to colorize the photo, but I just don't see such a project making it to the top of my to-do list.
The second "What's he wearing?" photo is Dick Schofield (Sr.) with the New York Yankees.
Old J.D. was really on his toes to get pictures of Schofield as a Yankee. He played only 25 games with New York in 1966, between June 21 and Aug. 13. The Yankees acquired him in a trade with the Giants, and traded him away to the Dodgers.
The Yankees pictures were the only Schofield photos in the McCarthy trove. If there were pictures of him as a Cardinal (1953-58, 1968 and 1971), Pirate 1958-65), Giant (1965-66). Dodger (1966-67), Red Sox (1969-70) or Brewer (1971), somebody else got to them first.