Have you ever read a story about a ball player that surprised and maybe fascinated you to the point where you were inspired to go out and pick up some of his cards? It happens for me from time to time with the biggest example perhaps being my player collection of Ben Petrick due to his brave fight against Parkinsons.
It happened to me again about a week ago. I get a weekly newsletter from the Baseball Hall of Fame. It typically links to a story or two about a Hall of Famer, an anniversary of a famous event, a unique story and sometime even a memory about a certain baseball card. It is one of my favorite weekly reads.
The reason this particular story fascinated me was probably due to the fact it was a story, somewhat of a biography of someone I had never heard of. Now I won't profess to be all knowing about the history of baseball but I do think I am most likely in the top 5% of the population when it comes to baseball knowledge. As a kid I read every baseball book in the kids portion of the library and moved to the adult books around the age of 10 (Imagine a ten year old reading a book like Ball Four - it was eye opening and probably a little too adult for my immature 10 year old brain but I had to have more baseball). I have 2 book cases of baseball books in my hallway spanning the entire history and while I haven't read them all yet I have polished off quite a few. I am not trying to brag just highlight how surprising it was to me that I had never heard a smidgen of the story about Carlos Paula.
Paula was an outfielder for the Washington Senators and was the player who broke the color barrier for the Senators in the mid-1950s. He apparently was a good hitter and poor fielder and bounced up and down from the minors to majors a couple of times, never fully establishing himself as a major leaguer. Apparently his fielding was so bad that his name became synonymous with poor fielding with the article siting examples up until the late 1970s.
I really enjoyed the story and if you are interested in learning more about Paula, here is a link to the article. I was so fascinated with the story I hopped on to eBay and picked up his 1955 Topps rookie card and his 1956 Topps card Just for the "F" of it.