Friday, February 03, 2012

Mailbag: A Roy Gleason Auto Card

I can't believe how long this card has been sitting on my desk at home. For whatever reason I hadn't taken the time to scan and write about it, and believe me I really wanted to. I just had so many other things come up that caused me to hold off until now. I know, that's just an excuse, and obviously I'm a man who procrastinates much more than he's willing to admit to. Nevertheless, I figure it's better late than never, so here you go.

Several months back I won the above card on eBay. It is a 2011 TriStar Obak autograph card of former Dodger Roy Gleason. It is numbered 50 out of 50, and I consider it one of the highlights of my growing autograph collection.

I'm sure you're wondering who is Roy Gleason? Well... he's one of those unsung heroes of the game who had an opportunity to run the bases at Dodger Stadium and defend his country in a time of war- the Vietnam War. On top of that, he's one of the few players who can claim to have a lifetime batting average of 1.000. That's right. He was perfect at the plate.

Anyway, Gleason was the only former Major Leaguer to have served in the Vietnam war. He started out as a standout athlete out of Garden Grove High School. Upon graduating he immediately signed with the Dodgers, and rose up the ladder. Soon, Roy was given a cup of coffee during the Dodgers 1963 World Championship run where he showed off his amazing speed. Knowing that he still had some seasoning left to do in the minors he continued advancing until there was an opening on the Dodger roster. Then, the draft notice came.

Roy served in Vietnam for 21 months. Baseball Reference has more:
He was promoted to the rank of sergeant and led search-and-destroy missions. In one such mission, he was wounded in the left arm and both legs by a shrapnel explosion and was one of only two survivors of his 45-man platoon. He earned a Purple Heart as a result.
He came back from the war to resume his Baseball career, but was never the same. His injuries were too great to overcome.

For some extra reading about Roy Gleason, check out this great story from the North County Times. Also, Bill Plaschke has a excellent piece on him, as well.

Here is what it says on the reverse of the card.
Gleason, a minor league outfielder, played 8 games for Los Angeles in 1963, mainly as a pinch runner. Drafted by the military before the 1967 season, Roy served in the Army during the Vietnam War. Is the only US Combat Veteran and former Major Leaguer to receive "Special Congressional Recognition" for being awarded a "Purple Heart", a World Series Ring, and holding a "perfect lifetime" Major League Batting Average.
Below are his career starts.

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