Rusty Ryal follows his dad as a collector
Diamondback collected Cubs, Braves as a youth
Rusty Ryal is both a second-generation big leaguer and card collector.
The Arizona Diamondbacks rookie second baseman got his playing genes from dad, Mark, an outfielder who played with the Royals, White Sox, Angels, Phillies and Pirates for nearly a decade starting in 1982. All the while, the elder Ryal also passed along his love of collecting to Rusty, who hit .271 in his 30-game break-in with the D-backs in 2009.
MLBPLAYERS.com: When did you start collecting?
Ryal: My dad bought me sets of baseball cards when I was too young to even know what cards were. He has a huge sports memorabilia collection. When I was little, I loved cards so much I'd put them in teams. It was a way to organize them. Growing up in Oklahoma, all we had to watch were the Braves and Cubs on TBS and WGN -- there was no Fox Sports Southwest.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Did you have any favorite cards to collect?
Ryal: I've got many cards. My grandma [Sue Sparks] and mom [Susan Ryal] picked up so many cards. I didn't collect any player in particular. I'd just get packs in volume and sort them out. I lived in Stillwater, but I didn't go to a card shop. I'd get them at a gas station or grocery store. I'd buy a couple of packs of cards. And do that over a 10-year span, they'd add up.
MLBPLAYERS.com: What do you remember about the cards that your dad got for you?
Ryal: With the whole-year sets my dad would get for me, there's boxes I haven't even opened. I can recall seeing cards of Chipper Jones' and A-Rod's rookie years. I've got [Mark] McGwire rookie cards. My dad has more cards than I have, but eventually those will be mine. I must have thousands I collected.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Would you know where to find them if you wanted to take another look?
Ryal: They're in storage at my grandmother's in Ralston, Okla., where they have a big barn. The cards are in box sleeves. Many of those boxes were organized by teams when I was 10 and are in the exact same condition.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Whose cards do you think you have the most of?
Ryal: I was a big Ryne Sandberg fan, also Andre Dawson; with the Braves, Sid Bream.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Where did you first appear on a card?
Ryal: After my draft year. It was a team card in Missoula, Mont. My first individual card was in Double-A at Mobile (Ala.), the Bay Bears. Topps did a card for them.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Have you seen your Major League cards yet?
Ryal: They're all the same where you show up at Spring Training and they tell you, "Well, hold your bat like this." Take a picture.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.