Padres' Young saved for Nolan Ryan
Long, lean starting pitcher also collected Griffey Jr.
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.
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.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.