When faced with a need to turn to baseball’s history at a time when baseball should be on the TV, let us not forget the other mediums in which baseball can be enjoyed — namely, the 20 year card history that has captured for posterity the Tampa Bay Rays these past two decades.
During this new series, I’ll select a truly random member of the Tampa Bay Rays and then find a random baseball card of them from any company that was produced during that player’s time with the team. Once finding the card, I’ll attempt a deep dive to find the exact moment that was captured on the card, and hopefully discover some interesting tidbits along the way.
The easy way of doing this would be to just find the card and the photographer credited with the image. Then once I know that, I’ll be able to track down the date the picture was captured and be able to precisely pinpoint the situation.
I don’t want to do things that way.
I will let you, the reader, into my mind and my method as a I track down these moments, so let’s get started.
Taking the Rays all-time roster and plugging into a randomizing list, the first player we’ll do a deep card dive on is... you guess it if you looked at the image above!
Mikie Mahtook, an outfielder and member within the Tampa Bay Rays organization from 2011 to 2017.
Mahtook’s most notable time with the Rays came during September of 2015 when he ravaged opposing pitchers with 6 HR and a 205 wRC+ over 73 plate appearances.
Mahtook had a pretty good season with the Tigers in 2017, but one thing that I’ll always remember from his time with the Tigers is this play below:
Mahtook became a free agent following the 2019 season and signed a minor league deal with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Now with the quick recap of Mahtook’s career is out of the way, let’s find a Mikie Mahtook baseball card, preferably with the Rays.
So googling Mikie Mahtook baseball cards brings up myriad options for us to choose from, so we’ll go simple and choose this gem, which showcases a jubilant Mikie Mahtook.
This card is labeled as 2015 Topps Update #US299 Mikie Mahtook.
At quick glance, a notable feature is the RC emblem on the card which indicates it was produced during Mahtook’s rookie season in 2015. Mahtook is also shown smiling jubilantly in the Rays road grays and a clear blue wall and fans decked out blue attire behind him. This likely means the image was captured in Toronto.
During April in 2015, the Rays were suffering through a wrath of injuries and this led to the early season promotion of Mikie Mahtook to the big leagues; he’d made his Major League debut against the Miami Marlins on April 10th.
Checking Baseball-Reference’s game logs for Mahtook during the 2015 season, shows that he played in Toronto four times that year. During two of those games, Mahtook wasn’t too much involved and didn’t have much to be very smiley about as he entered as a pinch-runner in one and then was hitless as a pinch-hitter in the other.
During one game, later on in the year in September, he was great as he launched a home run during a two hit performance. However, that game was on Sunday, September 27th, when the Rogers Centre roof was likely to be open in the afternoon.
That would leave us with April 15th, the game in which Mahtook recorded his first Major League hit, a two run home run in the sixth inning off of Mark Buehrle.
I believe that is the moment that the baseball card captured.