Team: Los Angeles Dodgers
Value of card: Whatever wearing long sleeves in L.A. is worth
Key 1974 stat: 20-pound glasses
Time for a pop quiz, '70s style:
What's that stuff coming out of Henry Cruz's nose?
A) I don't know, but it's getting bigger! Run!
B) An evil caterpillar
C) Motor oil
D) The world's grooviest mustache
E) The stuff they make Magic Markers from
F) The stuff they make corrective sunglasses from
G) All of the above
Team: Minnesota Twins
Value of card: A bag of broken glass
Key 1995 stat: 111 strikeouts
Ten things, aside from his power, that were raw about Marty Cordova:
10) His stench
9) The wrestling show he liked to watch
8) The ground beef he ate in the locker room
7) His prowess with the ladies
6) His right palm, thanks to his prowess with the ladies
5) His ability to spell
4) His favorite Eddie Murphy standup movie
3) His feet, after his teammates hid his shoes before a game as part of rookie hazing
2) His emotions
1) His bulge
Team: Oakland A's
Positions: Pitcher, all fours
Value of card: Humiliation
Key 1992 stat: One concussion
In the doghouse: Poor Ron Darling. He got on Tony LaRussa's bad side during an April start after giving up 10 runs and walking five batters in an inning. But, instead of just pulling his struggling starter, LaRussa decided to further humiliate him, moving Darling to first base and letting Mark McGwire pitch in the blowout. Darling, who hadn't played a defensive position since high school, had no idea what to do at the bag. Upset and flustered, the only thing Darling could think of was Bill Buckner's error in the 1986 World Series. Determined not to let that misfortune happen to him, Darling got down on all fours and prayed for a strikeout. Instead, McGwire's first pitch was laced for a one-hopper down the first-base line, striking Darling squarely in the forehead. In the dugout, LaRussa could be heard cackling.
The moral of this story: Tony LaRussa was one heartless son of a gun.
Team: St. Louis Cardinals
Positions: Catcher, outfield
Value of card: One melon rind
Key 1993 stat: 47 pounds gained
Hunger, just not for the game: Erik Pappas wasn't very good at baseball. He spent a lot of time in the dugout, bored, watching his teammates play the game he loved while he pined for any sort of attention from manager Joe Torre. Then he began eating. At first it was just sunflower seeds or a little beef jerky. Then he moved on to heartier fare, bringing in a whole pizza or a bowl of cut-up cheddar cheese, as seen on this card. By the end of the 1993 season, Pappas carried a George Foreman Grill with him wherever he went, had grease stains on all of his uniform pants and smelled vaguely of turkey burgers. On the plus side, he finally looked like a catcher.
Names: Todd Noel, John Oliver
Teams: Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds
Positions: Pitcher, Outfield
Value of card: Phlegm
Key 1996 stats: Two dudes, one cup (shared)
The Matchup takes on the youngsters:
Round 1: Mr. T-size gold necklace (Winner: Noel)
Round 2: Freakishly large hands (Winner: Oliver)
Round 3: A name perfect for the holidays (Winner: Noel)
Round 4: Posing in a way that gets the ladies hot (Winner: Oliver)
Round 5: Penchant for throwing like a girl (Winner: Noel)
Round 6: Transparent mesh jersey (Winner: Tie)
Round 7: Ears the size of pancakes (Winner: Oliver)
Round 8: Dreams of big leagues vanquished (Winner: Tie)
Round 9: Taking-a-dump look (Winner: Noel)
Score: Noel 4, Oliver 3, Ties 2
Synopsis: It's like Christmastime for Noel, who scored the most points, but no one really wins because both of these chaps never reached the big leagues.
Name: Don Beebe
Team: Buffalo Bills
Position: Wide receiver
Value of card: Two BBs
Key 1989 stat: One bounce-back (see below)
It's time for another pop quiz:
What happened approximately two seconds after this photo was taken?
(A) Beebe landed on his knees and was ruled down.
(B) Beebe landed on his feet and ran out of bounds.
(C) Beebe and Browns safety Felix Wright fell to the ground in a heap.
(D) Beebe stripped off his uniform and ran around the field naked.
(E) Excruciating neck pain: click here.
Name: Rolando Arrojo
Team: Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Value of card: This much (see above)
Key 1995 stat: 10 fingers (he'll show ya)
It's time for a hands-free pop quiz:
Why is Rolando Arrojo holding up his hands?
(A) He's being arrested for obscene use of a mock turtleneck.
(B) He's waving to both of his fans.
(C) He was asked how many wins the Devil Rays would have that year.
(D) He's shoving the camera lens after the photographer made a crack about his ears.
(E) None of the above.
Name: Carlos Perez
Team: Montreal Expos
Value of card: Three bullets, for a finger gun
Key 1995 stat: Four 1990s fashion necessities (backward hat, Oakley Blades, mock turtleneck, ridiculous bulge)
Conversation between Donruss photographer and Donruss editor, March 14, 1996:
Donruss photographer: "So, what do you think of this shot?"
Donruss editor: "Well, where do I start ..."
DP: "So you like it?"
Editor: "No, I don't like it. I don't like the shot and I don't like the guy."
DP: "Carlos Perez is one of the hottest rookies this season."
Editor: "I don't care. This guy is breaking every rule in the book."
DP: "Like what?"
Editor: "Like his backward hat. This isn't a home run derby. This is the national pastime."
DP: "C'mon, he's just having fun."
Editor: "Fun? You call those late-1980s Oakley Blades fun? This guy's a pitcher for chris'sakes."
DP: "He's a character. We should embrace him."
Editor: "Embrace him? He's pointing a finger gun at the camera. Who is this guy?"
DP: "He's the youngest brother in the Perez family. You remember Pascual and Melido, right?"
Editor: "That's exactly my point. He's a fool, just like his brothers. He's wearing a mock turtleneck on a hot day. He's all style, no substance."
DP: "That's part of what makes this shot so memorable."
Editor: "The only thing anyone is going to remember about this shot is the snake-like bulge twisting down to his knee."
DP: "Well, this is the only shot of him I got."
Editor: "Just cover up most of his junk with a big square and print this piece of crap."
DP: "Will do, boss."
Editor: (shakes head, takes shot of whiskey)
Name: Jeff Nelson, aka Kenny Powers
Team: Seattle Mariners
Value of card: "Not worth as much as these nuts," Powers said.
Key 1993 stat: "Numbers are for people who don't have talent. If there's two things I have it's talent, balls and talent," Powers said.
Northbound and down: Kenny Powers had been run out of Atlanta, New York and San Francisco. He was in Seattle, his career in decline. He had poisoned the media and the fans had abandoned him. His velocity was gone and he was spending money on hookers, cocaine and Budweiser at a staggering rate. Kenny Powers needed a change, and he'd tell you: "When my (expletive) was 19 years old, I changed the face of professional baseball. I was handed the keys to the kingdom, multimillion-dollar deals, endorsements. Everyone wanted a piece of my (expletive). Just a man with a mind for victory and an arm like a (expletive) cannon. But sometimes when you bring the thunder you get lost in the storm." But Kenny Powers didn't give up. He struck out on a new road, with glory in mind. He had a vision of paradise on the diamond and he knew only the heart of a champion and the mind of a scientist would get him there. So he stole a few credit cards and an ID from some guy named Jeff Nelson, and his career, for a short time, was reborn in Seattle.
Team: Chicago Cubs
Position: Whatever the hell "LRP" is
Value of card: An empty bottle of Ambien
Key 1989 stat: More mullet than collar — barely
At the count of 10, you will wake from this quiz:
What makes Mitch Williams so dreamy?
A) The family of small birds nesting in his mullet
B) The way he suggestively leaves that elastic-laden warmup jacket slightly unzipped
C) The half-gallon of cologne he applies every morning
D) The fact that he just downed a fifth of Beam, passed out and began dreaming
E) None of the above
F) All of the above
Team: Atlanta Braves
Position: First base
Value of card: The creeps
Key 1992 stat: One 4-inch stick
Brian Hunter's train of thought from 10:42 to 10:44 a.m. Feb. 7, 1992: "Man, I am so ready for this photo shoot. Let's see, tight black T-shirt: check. Tousled mustache: check. Suggestive stare: check. Bat that emphasizes my 'Big Stick': check. Oh yeah. All right, Mr. Photographer, make sure you zoom in on my wide-set eyes and my bat. Oops, almost had the writing on the bat turned the wrong way. Hold on, let me get it centered in the light ... yeah, there we go. I hope the ladies notice the 'Big Stick' part. Ladies buy baseball cards, right? I'm pretty sure. I know that, between my bedroom eyes, suggestive bat and perfectly round face, they'll be beating down my door once this photo hits the shelves."
Team: St. Louis Cardinals
Position: Middle infielder
Value of card: One brick cell phone
Key 1993 stat: One run
St. Louis Cardinals scouting report on "future star" Tripp Cromer: "Has some sort of weird reptile scales running down his back. We're checking into it. ... He's squinty. ... Claims he once ate a 32-pack of individually wrapped American cheese in one sitting. ... Swings the bat better than some people. Like the drummer from Def Leppard. Barely. ... Has an unsettling fascination with the boy band Menudo. ... Could be a future star. But only if he dies and comes back as a zombie with super strength and speed. ... Calls his mother by her given name, and that's just strange. ... We're still not sure what his name is, but apparently he has a genuine dislike for someone named Cromer. ... Keeps calling our manager, Joe Torre, 'grandpa.' Torre seems to get a kick out of it."
Team: Toronto Argonauts
Position: Wide receiver
Value of card: Less than a loonie
Key 1990 stat: Screw the NFL
Run for the border: Yes, Raghib Ismail played in the Canadian Football League. Yes, there is a Canadian Football League. Yes, half of the teams are named the Roughriders. Here's the thing: There are only eight teams in the CFL! Eight! Didn't the NHL add eight more teams just last year? It's time for some CFL expansion, dammit. Here are 10 teams we'd like to see added to the Canadian Football League:
10) Whitehorse Snowflakes
9) Northwest Territories Gangrene
8) Victoria Victors
7) Iqaluit Random Letters
6) Yellowknife Socialists
5) Vancouver Grizzlies (because it worked so well the first time)
4) St. John's Sissies
3) Medicine Hat Naughty Nurses
2) Red Deer Medicine Hats
1) Halifax Machines
Team: Milwaukee Brewers
Value of card: One botched tongue piercing
Key 1991 stat: 219 warnings from his mother that his face would stick like that
Some fun facts about Bill Spiers:
- He was rubber, but you were not actually glue, so whatever you said bounced off him but did not stick to you.
- He knows you are, but what is he?
- Though he pretended a pitch hit him a couple times, his pants did not catch on fire.
- Rarely did he choose which base to throw to by playing Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Mo.
- He was once placed on the 15-day DL with cooties.
- Could blow a raspberry with the best of them.
- Accepted a double-dog dare to lick the flagpole outside Milwaukee County Stadium in January 1993. It did not end well.
Name: Bobby Bonilla
Team: New York Mets
Value of card: One plastic Cracker Jack watch
Key 1993 stat: 2.3 million reflections
Script from Oakley Blades sunglasses commercial, circa 1994: "Yo, Bobby Bo here with Oakley, America's favorite shades. You know what I hate? I hate the sun, man. It's all bright and yellow, up in your business. That's why I grab a blade for this battle. Or Blades, that is. (Zoom to cartoon picture of Blades, being worked on by tiny construction workers.) Take it from a big leaguer who cares more about looking cool than playing well: There has never been a better combination of style and craftsmanship in the history of sunglasses. (Pan to Bonilla sitting in the locker room, holding a pair of Blades, in a towel.) These Blades go with your mullet, they go with your mustache, they go with your fine-lined flat top. (Zoom to Bonilla running hand over his flat top.) You can hold these up and use the reflection when you're shaving. You can blow coke off them in a crowded party. (Cut to shot of Bonilla smiling at camera and pushing Blades down his nose.) And most important, you can use these Blades as a shank in your battle against life's biggest opponent, the sun. "
Name: Todd Greene
Team: California Angels
Positions: Catcher, outfield
Value of card: Sorry, Greene, no green
Key 1995 stat: 412 awkward half-swings in front of a photographer
Angels' scouting report on top prospect Todd Greene: "This guy has all the tools we're looking for – to build a shelf. ... Wears red batting gloves even though navy blue would have been the obvious choice. ... One thing's for sure: He doesn't mind putting his bulge right in your face. ... Prefers to swing a square bat, which isn't good. ... Plus: He likes to wear mock turtlenecks. ... Minus: His mother never taught him how to properly tuck in a jersey. ... Man, this whole bulge thing is a little much. ... We need to get this guy some mustache practice."
Name: Jeromy Burnitz
Team: New York Mets
Position: Right field
Value of card: Two pieces of used finger tape
Key 1993 stat: Countless hours waiting for a shot at the big time
Sadness debuts: Jeromy Burnitz was ecstatic when he was called up to the big leagues June 21, 1993. He got his mullet trimmed. He double-wrapped athletic tape around his fingers for no reason. He made sure his bulge was in place and put on his best pair of Pony high-tops. But manager Dallas Green didn't pencil Burnitz into the starting lineup. With tears streaming down his face he left the dugout and plopped himself down on the dirt in front of a local TV station sign. He thought about his mother at home in California watching the game, her "Little Mooky" nowhere in sight. He thought about his college buddies in Oklahoma, drinking beers and screaming at the TV, "I think I saw him! No. Wait, there he is! No." He sat and he cried, taking comfort in grabbing his junk, thinking about the people he loved and wondering who this "JerEmy Burnitz" guy was on the lineup card and why he got a shot in right field for the Mets.
Name: Nolan Ryan
Team: Texas Rangers
Value of card: Three scraps of dried paint
Key 1989 stat: Four hairs in bangs
10 titles for this fabulous work of art:
10) "Staring into Senility"
9) "Norman Rockwell's The Geezer"
8) "Below the Waist, Chaps Only, No. 5"
7) "No Lips in Blue"
6) "Profile of a Profile of a Pitcher"
5) "A Texas Ranger, But Not Chuck Norris"
4) "Portrait of the Artist's Grandfather"
3) "Mrs. Coverdale's Fourth-Grade Art Assignment, By Tommy Fitzsimmons"
2) "Old on Canvas"
1) "The Bald Ranger"
Team: New York Mets
Positions: Shortstop, pitcher, pitcher
Value of card: One broken stink bomb
Key 1982 stat: Zero team haircuts
A Matchup of "future stars":
Round 1: Presentability (Winner: Nobody)
Round 2: Dumbest look on face (Winner: Leary, barely)
Round 3: Worst attempt at a mustache (Winner: Gardenhire)
Round 4: Handlebars (Winner: Leach)
Round 5: Resemblance to a caveman (Winner: Leary)
Round 6: Worst haircut (Winner: Tie, all three)
Round 7: Future in baseball (Winner: Gardenhire, as a manager)
Round 8: Future as an actor (Winner: Timothy Leary)
Round 9: Monobrow (Winner: Leary)
Round 10: Biggest joke on the card (Winner: The idea of the 1983 Mets having "stars")
Score: Leary 4, Gardenhire 2, Leach 1 (Ties: 2)
Synopsis: These dudes are ugly.
Team: Buffalo Bills
Position: Special teams
Value of card: Shrapnel from a tank blast
Key 1992 stat: Zero trips to the dentist for Jim Kelly
Wow. Just wow: Skybox was known in the 1990s for some of the cheesiest gimmicks in the sports card business, but the Kelly's Heroes football subset in 1993 may have been the most blatant embrace of the nonsensical. We could talk about the 3 pounds of product in Kelly's hair, the yellow tinge to his teeth, the cartoon tank or the hyperbole — "Steve's a lunatic." — ascribed to the Bills quarterback, but none of these things compare to the back of the card:
That's right, Magic's Kingdom and Kelly's Heroes — each a groan-inducing pun in its own right — were combined on one card. Kelly has a tank; Magic gets a star, hearkening to his time on the "showtime" Los Angeles Lakers. Kelly's teeth are front and center; Magic gives collectors the thumbs-up. The writing on the card's back is as putrid as what's on the front. Magic all but admits he chose Elvis Patterson only because he watched him play more than other players. Who cares if he's not good, right? Which brings up the most important failure of the subset: Why in god's good name should football fans care what a basketball player thinks of the NFL? Nothing heroic, nothing magical for this thinking outside the Skybox.
Team: Philadelphia Phillies
Value of card: An ounce of stubble
Key 1988 stat: Had a hard time closing his mouth
The picture of health: John Kruk was never exactly the most physically fit baseball player. Here are 10 afflictions Kruk experienced during his career.
10) Alcohol poisoning
7) Mullet rash
6) Rhymes with merpes
5) Cirrhosis. And not just of the liver.
4) Jungle fever
3) Being fat
2) Cocktail flu
1) Meat sweats
Team: Detroit Tigers
Manager: Sparky Anderson
Positions: All of them
Value of card: 40 men / 40 bad hairstyles = 1 cent
Key 1980 stat: 22 hands on crotches during team photo shoot
10 things Topps photographer yelled at the Tigers before this photo was taken:
10) "All right, let's put the carnies up front!"
9) "Did we get everyone from the crowd with a mullet or a mustache into this photo?"
8) "It says here that everyone with a felony should be wearing a white jersey. Perfect!"
7) "Smile or we'll make you live within Detroit city limits!"
6) "Time to shoot! You guys are from Detroit, so you're used to that, right?"
5) "Look! There are as many people in the stands as during Tigers games in September."
4) "Jesus, there's enough hair here to cover a cancer ward!"
3) "Hey, who let these suits in here?"
2) "Sparky! Wake up, Sparky!"
1) "OK, scumbags, smile and grab your junk!"
Name: Woodie Fryman
Team: Montreal Expos
Value of card: One piece of wood, one french fry
Key 1981 stat: 265 straight hours sitting Indian style
Clearing up some rumors about Woodie Fryman:
- Fryman's first name wasn't a nickname. It was a way of life.
- Fryman didn't always wear baby-blue pants. He usually didn't wear pants at all.
- Fryman didn't market himself. He had other "guys" do that for him.
- Fryman didn't always show off the bulge. Once, he crossed his legs.
- Fryman didn't live north of the border. All the action was south of the waistband.
Name: Kevin Stocker
Team: Philadelphia Phillies
Position: Shortstop, short stocker
Value of card: N/A (out of stock)
Key 1994 stat: 1,254 bats put in the correct place
Kevin Stocker's train of thought upon seeing this card, 7:34 to 7:35 a.m. March 3, 1995: "You have to be kidding me. Oh, I get it. My last name is 'Stocker' so they show me stocking bats. Reeeaaalll clever. This is so amateur. They're making a mockery of my career. Hey, I'm the guy who hit .274 with two home runs last year. I don't know what other Phillies shortstop hit 11 doubles in 330 at-bats. I had at least three good plays in the field they could have shown. But, noooooo. They make a mockery of my name and my career with one photo selection. Well, maybe I should be glad my name isn't Kevin Stroker."
Name: Mr. Alma Ziegler
Team: Grand Rapids Chicks
Position: Second base
Value of card: What's it to ya, toots?
Key 1944 stat: Zero times wearing a cup
The incredible Mr. Ziegler: Alma Ziegler was a man's man. He was a wrestling and baseball star growing up, and, as seen above, he could sweat with the best of them. He was drafted out of high school by the Milwaukee Braves and seemed to be on the fast track to success, but he had a problem: pants. Most men put them on one leg at a time, but Ziegler wouldn't put them on at all. He felt constricted, he said, and his numbers backed up his claim: While wearing pants, Ziegler batted .126 with no home runs; while wearing shorts, or, later in his career, a dress, he batted .339 and averaged 27 home runs a season. Despite his numbers, Ziegler was run out of Major League Baseball. He ended up playing with the Grand Rapids Chicks of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, where he was named the MVP (Most Valuable Player) in 1950 and won MVL (Moist, Voluptuous Legs) from 1944 to 1951.
Teams: St. Louis Cardinals, San Diego Padres, Florida Marlins, Oakland A's
Positions: Pitchers, one and all
Value of card: Failure x 4
Key 1995 stat: An ounce of talent between them
"Prospects" is a loose term: This card is a Mt. Rushmore of suck. A four-way Matchup has never been done at the Bust, but these guys are begging to be mocked, round by round.
Round 1: Monobrow (Winner: Wengert, in a runaway)
Round 2: Major league ERA under 6 (Winner: Valdes)
Round 3: Inability to spell "Mark" (Winner: Tie, Kroon and Valdes)
Round 4: Resemblance to Steve Buscemi (Winner: Barber)
Round 5: Resemblance to Marsellus Wallace in "Pulp Fiction" (Winner: Kroon)
Round 6: Resemblance to a caveman (Winner: Wengert)
Round 7: Fantasy baseball ownership, all time (Winner: Nobody)
Round 8: Facial hair (Winner: Barber)
Round 9: Teal (Winner: Valdes)
Round 10: Photo taken at a college party (Winner: Barber)
Synopsis: As usual, none of these four stands out. But since somebody has to win from this collage of crappiness, we'll go ahead and give it to the dude who doesn't look like he's constipated.
Team: San Diego Chargers
Position: Running Back
Value of card: One second-degree burn
Key 1994 stat: 728 touchdowns, if we remember correctly
Top 10 things Natrone means:
8) Fireworks, apparently
7) Humongous shoulder pads
5) Weight problems
3) More sausage
1) Jock itch
Team: Charleston RiverDogs (definitely not the Texas Rangers)
Value of card: One tarnished silver spoon
Pop quiz, Junior:
What question from a reporter has Reid Ryan so stumped?
A) "How exactly are you a 'Top Prospect' when you're 0-10 with a 9.34 ERA?"
B) "How are you going to celebrate your 14th birthday?"
C) "Have you ever seen a grown man naked, Reid?"
D) "Who did you steal that Rangers hat from, meat?"
E) "Has your dad ever put you in a headlock?"
Team: Chicago White Sox
Value of card: Half a spacebuck
Key 1993 stat: Twice went to ludicrous speed
Top 10 printable lines from the greatest movie of all time, "Spaceballs":
10) You have the ring, and I see your Schwarz is as big as mine. Now, let's see how well you handle it.
9) They've gone to plaid!
8) I am your father's brother's nephew's cousin's former roommate.
7) I'm a Mog. Half-man, half-dog. I'm my own best friend.
6) Or else Pizza is gonna send out for you.
5) What!? You went over my helmet?!
4) So, at last we meet for the first time for the last time.
3) What's the matter, Colonel Sandurz? Chicken?
2) So, Lone Starr, now you see that evil will always triumph, because good is dumb.
1) I hate it when I get my Schwarz twisted.
Name: Kevin Seitzer
Team: Milwaukee Brewers
Positions: Third base, crumbled in pain
Value of card: Two "prairie oysters," blended, served over ice
Key 1995 stat: One debilitating hit by pitch
Kevin Seitzer's train of thought, 2:14 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. July 17, 1995: "Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Oh. My. God. Owwwwww. I can't believe that bastard hit me. I can't believe I didn't wear a cup. Can't move. So ... much ... pain. My little buddies have liquefied. My goods are bad. The rocks, rickrolled. I need medication. The hurt tastes like grapefruit juice and organs. Ohhhhhh, the humanity! My privates are public. The nuts, cracked. I got an F on the testes. The huevos, rancheros. My gonads aren't going anywhere. The count? Two balls, one strike. Owwwwww."