As we count down the days to 2018’s opening day, we take a look at the greatest Braves to wear each jersey number that’s been worn.
We resume our countdown with the best Brave to ever wear #77, Rico Carty. We skipped #78, which was apparently issued to reliever Blaine Boyer at some point during his 2006 DL stint, but there doesn’t appear to be any evidence he actually made it onto the field with #78 on his back. Therefore, we move to #77.
Like the best to wear #96, Carty is the only Brave to wear #77, and he only did so for a handful of games as rookie for the 1963 Milwaukee Braves. One of the first major leaguers from the now prolific San Pedro de Macoris, DR, Carty was noticed by international scouts after playing for his homeland in the 1959 Pan American Games. The Braves signed him later that year. In 1962, playing in A-ball for the Yakima Bears, Carty broke out with a .366 batting average, hitting 17 homers in 352 at-bats. In ’63, now with the AA Austin Senators, Carty continued to mash minor league pitching, hitting .327 with 27 HR and 100 RBI in just 391 at-bats. He earned a brief stint in the International League with the Toronto Maple Leafs, where he hit 4 homers in 21 games. Milwaukee called him up in September for a cup of coffee, assigning Carty #77.
Carty made his MLB debut on September 15. After SP Dan Schneider got into a 3-0 hole against the Cardinals, the Braves pinch-hit Carty for him in the 5th. Cards pitcher Ray Sadecki, who would go on to win 20 games the following season, struck out Carty. It was an unceremonious debut, to say the least.
10 days later, the Braves called on Carty for another pinch-hit appearance, this time against the Reds’ Dom Zammi. With a 9-4 lead, leading off the top of the ninth, Carty struck out again. The team still managed to earn Warren Spahn his 349th career victory that day, albeit without Carty really helping.
And that was it. The #77 Braves jersey hasn’t made it onto a baseball field farther than the batter’s box, sadly. He struck out each time and never donned a glove. There are some sources that suggest he started 1964 as #77 before switching to #43, but it is both unlikely and unconfirmed. Carty would slash .330/.388/.554 on his way to a 2nd place finish in the 1964 NL RotY race. He would remain a reliable hitter, eventually taking the 1970 batting (and, more importantly, on-base) title with a .366/.454/.584 season. That all came, of course, with a smaller # on his back.