In 1970, on his way to the National League batting title, Rico Carty became the first player voted to play in the All-Star Game as a write-in candidate. Carty could plain hit. Over his first six full seasons in the big leagues he batted .300 five times and posted an aggregate average more than 60 points above league average. He missed the entire season following his batting title when he contracted tuberculosis, and it took him nearly four years to rebound fully from the ailment.
One of the first major leaguers to be born in famous San Pedro de Macoris, he was signed in 1959 by the Milwaukee Braves and broke in with a couple major league games in 1963. In 1964 he made a splash as a regular outfielder, playing alongside Hank Aaron and having as good a year as Aaron did: Carty hit .330 and slugged .554. In spite of that, Dick Allen was the almost unanimous choice as 1964 Rookie of the Year.
He was with the Braves from 1963 to 1972, and in addition to his 1964, 1966, and 1970 years when he ranked in the top three in batting, he also hit .342 with a .549 slugging percentage in 1969 when he appeared in 104 games.
Made for the designated hitter role, Carty forged a second career as a DH.
Carty spent 1973 with three different teams before settling in with the Cleveland Indians from 1974 to 1977, and playing for the most part excellently. He was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 1977 expansion draft but was traded back to the Indians before the season, the was sent back to Toronto once it was over. In 1978 he split his time between the Blue Jays and the Oakland Athletics, hitting 31 home runs, which was his career high. He finished out his career in 1979 as the regular DH for the Blue Jays.
He is the all-time Home Run leader for the Dominican Winter League with 59.
For as long as the game has been played, baseball players have been prone to superstition. With Rico Carty it was often an obsession. Carty believed in using the same socks if he had a good game at the plate, either wearing them dirty game-after-game, or demanding that he get the same pair returned to him after it went into the wash with the others. Carty didn't seem to have any problems with stepping on the foul lines (as many players with superstitions often do), but he was careful to always greet the homeplate umpire the first time he came to the plate. He felt that if he failed to acknowledge the ump, it was poor luck. Carty was also suspicious: he guarded his cadre of bats closely, and only lent them out to teammates in rare instances. He didn't even like anyone else using his model of bat. An old-time superstition was the fear of pebbles or scraps of paper on the field, and Carty inherited that, though he wasn't obsesive about it later in his career. Off the field, he had his share of fears as well. In his book, Ball Four, Jim Bouton wrote: "[Carty] doesn't trust banks. He also doesn't trust the clubhouse valuables box. So that big lump you see in his back pocket during baseball games is his wallet."
- Rico Carty