Gary Gray's cards always throw me for a loop when flipping through a stack. I'm not dyslexic but I always have to pause to read his name correctly.
Let's look at Gray's second Topps card. He's is batting in a sunny spring training picture and has a crooked hat in the inset. The OUTFIELD-1st BASE label is inaccurate. Gray played just 11 games in the OF in his career and none at all in '82
Gary Gray was a streaky right-handed hitter drafted by the Rangers in the 18th round in 1974. By hitting over .300 each year he advanced a level each year and debuted with Texas in 1977 with two at bats. The next two years he hit .300+ at AAA with 13 and 17 homers but found playing time scarce at the big league level. He came to bat about 50 times each year but hit just .240 and .238 in his brief opportunities.
Before the 1980 season the Rangers included him in a multi-player deal that sent him to Cleveland. He showed he had nothing left to prove in the minors throttling AAA pitching at a .335/.414/.577 clip in 96 games. Called up to the Indians he started four games right off the bat but then rarely played the rest of the year. He batted just .148 in 54 at bats with a pair of homers.
The Indians left him off the 40 man roster and he was plucked by the Mariners in the Rule-5 draft. Platooning with Bruce Bochte, Gray finally got a chance to play in '81 and hit 13 homers. The power was evident but he walked just four times with 44 whiffs en route to a .245/.257/.476 slash line.
Gray was sent down to Salt Lake City to start the '82 season, perhaps with the intention of refining his definition of the strike zone. When he returned in May he showed better judgment at the plate with 24 walks against 59 strikeouts in 295 plate appearances. He lost some pop along the way and hit just seven homers while hitting .257.
The Mariners sold Gray to the Angels after the '82 season but he never played for California. He spent the four of the next five years playing in Mexico but never made it back to the majors.
Flipside: These are Gray's career stats and his last card.
Oddball: Gray was tried in leftfield in order to get his bat in the lineup but according to 1983: The Scouting Report he had terrible time judging fly balls.
History: Gray was a minor league stud but couldn't get it done in the majors. In over 1,700 plate appearances at the AAA level he posted a .312/.368/.510 line. In 663 trips to the plate in the majors he hit .240/.281/.402.