Continuing to look at some of the signed baseball cards I added to my New York Mets autograph collection last year, today we have Frank Catalanotto and Choo-Choo Coleman.
Frank Catalanotto, a Long Island native who began his professional career in 1992 with the Detroit Tigers organization, spent parts of 14 seasons in the major leagues between 1997 and 2010. He appeared in 1,265 games and recorded 1,113 hits while playing for five different teams.
The Mets signed Catalanotto as a 36-year-old veteran just weeks before spring training began in 2010 with the hope that he could provide a veteran presence off the bench. It didn’t work out too well – Catalanotto went 4-for-25 working almost exclusively as a pinch hitter and was released before Memorial Day.
Because of his short time in New York, Catalanotto does not appear on any baseball cards as a New York Met. I bought my Signature Rookies Old Judge autographed insert card for $1 from a dealer at a local baseball card show.
Choo-Choo Coleman was an original Met, selected with the 28th pick in the 1961 expansion draft. He played in a handful of games for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1961, but the majority of Coleman’s major league experience came with the Mets, where he played from 1962-66.
Like many early Mets, Coleman was not an especially gifted ballplayer – his career batting average is .197 and he hit just nine home runs in 201 games. But he was a character. The most famous story is one recounted about an interview with Mets broadcaster Ralph Kiner:
“What’s your wife’s name, and what’s she like?” Kiner asked. According to the story, Coleman replied, “Her name is Mrs. Coleman — and she likes me, bub.”
Coleman denied the story to New York Times writer George Vecsey last year, though Kiner stood by it.
I got my 1964 Topps baseball card signed through a private signing session last year.