Rick Sutcliffe, 1988 Topps Bigg Series 1

Name: Rick Sutcliffe
Team: Chicago Cubs
Position: Ace
Value of card: Slightly less than a bag of mullet hair
Key 1987 stat: Zero haircuts
A busy 1987 for Mr. Sutcliffe: The 1984 Cy Young winner did much more than pitch in the mid-1980s, and 1987 stands as what was likely his busiest year. Going 18-10 in 237.1 innings is quite a workload, but if you factor in his hobbies, side jobs and habits, Sutcliffe couldn't have slept more than 45 minutes a night.
Sutcliffe's 1987 off-the-field pursuits: Vidal Sassoon spokesmodel; stand-in for Kenny Rogers at strip mall appearances; hunting his great white whale, the Tennessee albino wild boar; staring; curing cancer with his tears, if he slept, which he doesn't, because he is Chuck Norris; driving a big-rig cross-country; persuading baseball card companies to be listed at 6 feet 7, when he is, in fact, 6 feet 3, minus the mullet; smoking three Marlboros at a time; glaring.



Pete Vuckovich, 1986 Topps

Name: Pete Vuckovich
Team: Milwaukee Brewers
Positions: Pitcher, Swamp Cooler Repairman
Value of card: Less than the cardboard on which it's printed
Key 1985 stat: 12 bologna sandwiches eaten in one week
The truth about Pete: The above photo was taken the day of Vuckovich's one and only major league outing. The Hales Corners, Wisc., native was at Milwaukee County Stadium on a blistering 106-degree day, plying his trade. But his trade wasn't throwing fastballs, it was fixing swamp coolers. In the intense late-summer heat, the Brewers' locker room cooling device broke. By noon, the clubhouse air was heavy with sweat and desperation. A call was made to CoolGuys Heating and Air Conditioning Services, Inc., and two-and-a-half hours later a repairman in a blue, button-up jacket showed up. Just because old Pete didn't play in the big leagues didn't mean he wasn't a pro. That swamp cooler was up and running within the hour. That day, the players were the ones doing the cheering. A series of high-fives and butt slaps ensued, which led to Vuckovich and three utility infielders shotgunning a couple of MGDs. What happened next, as they say, is history. Outfielders Ben Oglivie and Billy Joe Robidoux persuaded manager George Bamberger to let Pete "The Cold Front" Vuckovich throw an inning in an otherwise meaningless late-season game against the Kansas City Royals. In the bottom of the eighth, Bamberger called for the big righty with the bushy handlebar mustache. Vuckovich stepped onto the mound, still wearing his CoolGuys work jacket. His first pitch hit George Brett in the ear. His second pitch soared into the netting. His third pitch hit Steve Balboni in the boiler. Balboni charged the mound, the Earth shook for 27 seconds and Vuckovich's major league career ended. He spent the next 14 years fixing swamp coolers, eating bologna sandwiches and drinking MGD. He died in 1999.



Greg Luzinski, 1984 Topps Purina Dog Chow Insert

Name: Greg Luzinski
Team: Chicago White Sox
Positions: Designated Hitter, Lumberjack
Value of card: 12 cents
Key 1983 stat: One triple
Background: Luzinski, known as The Kodiak Brute, was raised in a family of lumberjacks in Kodiak, Alaska. The 225-pound slugger spent his formative years wrestling brown bears and chewing on tree trunks. At age 10, Luzinski entered the seedy world of competitive beard growing. He flourished. After dropping out of school at age 11, Luzinski split time between grooming his award-winning whiskers and chopping down Alaskan forests. On a sunny night during the Alaskan winter, a major league scout who spent the offseason breeding sled dogs happened upon a shirtless Luzinski cutting down Douglas firs -- with his bare hands. The scout hiked 14 miles to the nearest pay phone and called the Chicago White Sox owner. Luzinski was signed for $84,000 and a case of brook trout. Two hundred and ninety-four home runs and six optometrists later, American League pitchers shivered at the sight of The Kodiak Brute, hitter of home runs and shatterer of laws of physics.