Mario Ramirez, 1986 Topps

Name: Mario Ramirez
Team: San Diego Padres
Position: Shortstop
Value of card: A lifetime of smiles
Key 1985 career stat: .192 batting average
Mario's not-so-super moment: Mario Ramirez was a happy-go-lucky fellow, the kind of guy who could brighten a locker room with his big, bushy smile. He was also gullible, and his teammates loved taking advantage of this fact. But when Mario asked Steve Garvey what the new letters on the sleeves of their uniforms meant during spring training in 1985, it set in motion a series of events that would end Ramirez's baseball career. Garvey knew that RAK were the initials of Ray A. Kroc, former Padres owner and the man responsible for such atrocities as the McPizza and McRib. Instead, Garvey told Mario they stood for the team's new motto, "Really Ass-Kicking." It was an endless inside joke in the clubhouse, but Mario got a little carried away. "Hey, Topps camera guy," he yelled shortly before the photo on this card was taken, "Padres are Really Ass-Kicking!" Unfortunately, a prominent San Diego sports journalist was on the field at the time, and publicly berated the cheerful shortstop for not respecting the late Mr. Kroc. Ramirez, ashamed and heartbroken, chose to make up for his guffaw by retiring from baseball and spending his life savings on the first 10,000 pack of Chicken McNuggets.


Andre Dawson, 1993 Upper Deck Red Sox Checklist

Names: Andre Dawson, The Hawk
Teams: Boston Red Sox, League of Justice
Positions: Outfield, Protector of the Universe
Value of card: Three mice gripped in talons
Key 1992 stat: 14 damsels in distress saved
A superhero, on two wings and a player: Andre Dawson spent his days hitting home runs, stealing bases and showing off a rocket arm from right field. The Hawk, however, spent his nights protecting the Earth from evildoers of all shapes and sizes. After games at Fenway Park, Dawson would return to his Fortress of Feathers high atop a Boston skyscraper. There, he would change into tights, talons and a beak, before donning magic wings made of fastballs that allowed him to swoop down from building perches and treetops to intercept dastardly villians. Women would flock to The Hawk, but The Hawk flocked to danger. He migrated to good deeds and regurgitated small rodents to feed his children. Baseball was a passion for Dawson. But when it came to ridding the world of wickedness, the Hawk ruled the roost.



Frank Thomas, 1992 Jimmy Dean Sausage Collection

Name: Frank Thomas
Team: Chicago White Sox
Position: First base
Value of card: 2 pounds of liverwurst
Key 1991 stat: Negative-one uniform
Quote: "You don't want to see how the sausage card is made." — Jimmy Dean
A recipe for disaster: Take one part Frank Thomas, combine with Midwest breakfast staple and serve on a bed of anonymous uniform. Your family will love seeing the slugger's head cut off when they're enjoying this delectable treat.
Congratulations are in order: Baseball Card Bust wants to thank the top-notch photographers and graphic designers at the Jimmy Dean Sausage Company. Without their tireless efforts, children might have known that Thomas played for the White Sox or been able to appreciate the moment fine art met sports cards.



Mickey Brantley, 1988 Donruss

Name: Mickey Brantley
Team: Seattle Mariners
Positions: Outfield, enforcer
Value of card: One stink eye
Key 1987 stat: None of your damn business
Pop quiz, hot shot:

Why is Mickey Brantley so mad?

(A) You've been talkin' trash about his mama
(B) Donruss obscured the team logo on his jersey with the team's logo
(C) Somebody hid his Highlights magazine collection
(D) That Harold Reynolds is such a jerk!
(E) Two words: Jock itch

What happened after this photo was taken?

(A) An overly aggressive game of pepper
(B) An awkward apology, followed by a beautiful friendship
(C) $800 in hospital bills and two gold teeth
(D) A staring contest
(E) Tears, and lots of them



Deion Sanders, 1992 Skybox Pimp Insert (Football Friday, No. 1)

Name: "Neon" Deion "Prime Time" Sanders
Team: Atlanta Falcons
Position: Cornerback, King of Slop
Value of card: $$
Key 1991 stat: Three Deions
Headline: The King of Pop dies at 50
A thriller on the field: They say there are no new ideas. They say average artists borrow; great artists steal. They say style is truth. If these statements are true, a small part of Deion Sanders died yesterday, June 25, when Michael Jackson succumbed to a heart attack. "Neon" Deion Sanders was a flamboyant athlete from Florida State University who played professional football and baseball. He was known, in this order, for his brash sense of style, his football skills and his minimal baseball IQ. By looking at the above card, it's obvious Sanders stole his fashion identity from Michael Jackson. Both adored leather jackets, gold and ridiculous hats. But Deion Sanders and Michael Jackson had more in common than style. Michael Jackson sang "Smooth Criminal." Deion Sanders is a criminal. Michael Jackson sang "Bad." Deion Sanders was bad at baseball. Michael Jackson sang "Man in the Mirror." In 1992, Deion Sanders got stuck in a house of mirrors (see above). Michael Jackson sang "P.Y.T." Deion Sanders was, by all accounts, a P.Y.T. in the early 1990s. But the strongest connection between the two should be obvious: They both made music that defined a generation.



Bruce Sutter, 1984 Topps Purina Dog Chow Insert

Name: Bruce Sutter
Team: St. Louis Cardinals
Positions: Closer, hunter
Value of card: Three pounds of beard hair
Key 1983 stat: One plane crash survived
Welcome back, Sutter: Feeling there was something missing from his life, Bruce Sutter signed up to fly aid packages to South America during the winter of 1983-84. It made for great publicity, what with Sutter being a reliever, but things went horribly wrong when the pitcher's plane went down off the coast of Chile in December. A search turned up no survivors, and his wife and teammates were heartbroken. But Sutter was not dead. He washed ashore on a tiny island inhabited by a strange tribe that hunted by throwing round stones at birds and allowed ferrets to nest in their massive beards. Sutter, whose facial hair was already prodigious, adapted quickly. He dined on terns, gained 5 mph on his fastball and adopted a young black-footed ferret he named Buttons. In short, he gave up hope of going home. Fate intervened when Steven Spielberg and crew showed up in March to scout the location for "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom," only to find the loin cloth-clad, half-feral closer shivering in a cave. Sutter was rushed home just in time for photo day at spring training, as seen above. Tragically, his wife had already moved on, marrying the historically homely Willie McGee.


Sherman Corbett, 1989 Topps

Name: Sherman Corbett
Team: California Angels
Positions: Relief pitcher, science teacher
Value of card: One beaker
Key 1988 stat: 142 wacky experiments conducted
An experiment gone wrong: As a rookie in 1988, Sherman Corbett had two passions: Pitching and science. When he wasn't throwing cheese to opposing batters, he was growing mold on it in the locker room. He quickly became a clubhouse favorite, helping his teammates' children with their science fair projects and coming up with crazy experiments, like the time he got liquored up and tried to see which player's jock strap had more elasticity. (Bob Boone's won, but all the rigorous stretching earned Corbett a 15-day DL stint). The youngster especially took a liking to Wally Joyner, going so far as to breed a half-horse-half-zebra he named Ezekiel to give to him on his birthday. But the fun and games took on a more sinister tone when Corbett started handing out samples of the latest "supplement" he had concocted with his buddy Vic. Manager Cookie Rojas grew suspicious, and near the end of the season told Corbett to pack up his Bunsen burners and head back to the minors. Ezekiel died in 1997.



Dennis Eckersley, 1994 Fleer Ultra Firemen

Name: Dennis Eckersley
Team: Oakland A's
Positions: Closer, Fireman
Value of card: Too hot to judge
Key 1993 stat: 67 runners hosed at plate
Too much heat for one card: You may have noticed there's a giant fire engine behind Dennis Eckersley. Why? Well, in baseball jargon of yesteryear, a team's closer was called a "fireman" by approximately 14 people in the United States, including a White Sox announcer, an executive at Fleer and a guy named Frank from Brooklyn. But forget that bit of engine trivia. This card is full of useful tidbits you can share with friends. Some examples: Who's the perfect closer to be identified as a 1980s-era "fireman"? Why, Eck, of course. In the '80s, it was required by law in 39 states that every fireman had to sport a thick mustache. Eck, as you can see, is showing off a beaut'. Another: What was the required hairstyle for a closer in 1994? Obviously, the answer is mullet, and Eck's hairdo trumps notable coifs from closers Jeff Montgomery, Mitch Williams and Rod Beck. And, finally, what do you do when you're handed an octopus instead of a rosin bag on the mound? Well, if you're Eck, you stuff it down your pants, as evidenced by the disturbing bulge that nearly obscures the 40-foot-long fire engine.



Phil Niekro, 1986 Topps

Name: Phil Niekro
Team: New York Yankees
Position: Ace
Value of card: One Denarius coin, Roman Empire, circa 200 B.C.
Key 1985 stat: Four games of pinochle before early bird special (April 24)
10 reasons Phil Niekro was old in 1986:
10) He was born in 1939, six years before the microwave oven was invented
9) When infielders threw the ball around the horn, Niekro told them to turn it down
8) His age was a higher number than his fastball's radar-gun reading
7) He signed with the Braves after 12th grade because he thought he'd get a shot at a high school bully, Custer
6) He wore black socks with sandals — on the mound
5) He fell asleep in the clubhouse June 12. Don Mattingly called the morgue
4) When manager Lou Piniella tried to take him out of a game, Niekro told him to respect his elders
3) On road trips, his back went out more than he did
2) Despite 33 starts in 1985, he never took the hill; he was always over it
1) Players, coaches, Yankees staff members and Major League Baseball officials mistook him for George Steinbrenner every day.



Rance Mulliniks, 1988 Donruss

Name: Rance Mulliniks
Team: Toronto Blue Jays
Position: Third base
Value of card: One enormous Adam's apple
Key 1987 stat: 310 aliases
What's in a name: The wordsmiths here at Baseball Card Bust considered inventing a story about Rance Mulliniks' oversize eyeglasses, oversize ears or oversize Adam's apple. Instead, we realized that "Rance Mulliniks" is not actually a name. We attempted to analyze this seemingly random collection of letters, but quickly tired and decided to come up with humorous anagrams instead. Here are some of them: Canine Kills Rum; Unmanlier Slick; Unclean Milk Sir; Secular Milk Inn; Criminal Elk Sun; Manic Nurse Kill; Mink Urine Calls.


Will Clark, 1992 Topps Kids

Name: William Nuschler Clark Jr.
Team: San Francisco Giants
Position: First base
Value of card: 42 gallons of testosterone
Key 1991 stats: 4,289 pounds gained; 42 feet grown
A giant attitude: Baseball Card Bust isn't only fun and games. We here at the Bust pride ourselves on our hard-hitting investigative reporting. Until now, Will "The Thrill" Clark had never been linked to steroids. Well, we're doing the linking. In a card obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, it becomes clear "The Thrill" began using performance-enhancing drugs during the 1991 season. Through careful analysis, the Bust found that Clark gained 4,289 pounds and grew 42 feet. To compare, the fan on the bottom left holding the Giants pennant, Bruce Cobbledick, stands 5 feet 9. The woman on the right, Sue Stagler, stands 5 feet 10. Clark, although listed as 6 feet 1 on the back of the card, actually stands 48 feet 1. His biceps are 11 feet in diameter, about the size of a small sequoia redwood. As is common with steroid users, Clark's head enlarged dramatically. In 1992, its size was equivalent to that of one of Saturn's moons. Though scientific evidence shows steroid use shrinks a man's testicles, Clark's bulge is still the size of eight bags of industrial-grade cement heaped on top of one another. Impressive. After all the above evidence is compiled, one thing becomes abundantly clear: Giants use steroids.



Mike Harkey, 1989 Topps

Name: Mike Harkey
Team: Chicago Cubs
Position: Pitcher
Value of card: One personal groomer
Key 1988 stats: 31 psychiatric evaluations conducted
Here's a question: What do you see when you look at Mike Harkey's face? A butterfly? People doing the deed? Another, smaller, more hairy face? Look, mock Harkey's Rorschach-esque monobrow-mustache combo all you want; it saved the Cubs thousands of dollars in psychiatric therapy in 1988. When slugger Andre "The Hawk" Dawson lost his groove at the plate, skipper Don Zimmer had him stare at a photo of an unshaven Harkey for 20 minutes. Dawson's inner demons were quieted; he went on to hit .303 with 24 homers that year. During one July outing, Rick "Red Baron" Sutcliffe lost the strike zone, beaning three batters, one umpire and the San Diego Chicken in one inning. Pitching coach (not making this up) Dick Pole sat the Baron on the bench next to Harkey. Sutcliffe struck out the next 14 hitters he faced.
Not making this up, either: Harkey's pitching career was cut short when he tore up his knee while doing cartwheels during pre-game warmups in September 1992. Seriously.


Rickey Henderson, 1992 Upper Deck Rickey's 1,000th Stolen Base

Name: Rickey "Be Rickey" Henderson
Team: Oakland Athletics
Position: Left field, Thief
Value of card: Free, if stolen
Key 1991 stats: 1,000th stolen base (all in July); one awesome newspaper headline
Grand theft Rickey: Rickey Be Rickey was a burglar. Rickey Be Rickey stole 1,406 bases in his Hall-of-Fame career, and Rickey Be Rickey let everyone within earshot know it. Rickey Be Rickey would steal hot dogs from concession stands between pitches while at bat. Rickey Be Rickey stole hearts in every major league city. Rickey Be Rickey stole signs from opposing teams. Not "curve ball" or "pick-off attempt" hand signs, but actual team signs from locker rooms. Rickey Be Rickey stole identities. During the 1984 season, Rickey Be Rickey successfully disguised himself as Vince Coleman. Rickey Be Rickey didn't steal cars; Rickey Be Rickey stole entire dealerships. Rickey Be Rickey single-handedly stole speaking in the third person from the rest of America. Rickey Be Rickey stole kidneys from tourists in Bangkok, but instead of a knife he used his cleats. Rickey Be Rickey stole royalties and credibility from baseball card companies by scanning card images onto his computer, posting them on a blog and writing moronic stories about them. Rickey Be Rickey was that good.

Card submitted by Clay Deas



Gus Zernial, 1952 Topps

Name: Gus "Six-Pack" Zernial
Team: Philadelphia Athletics
Position: Left field
Value of card: $6.06
Key 1951 stats: Six home runs, six RBIs, six doubles, six triples, six walks, six errors, six A-OK signs
A man approaches a woman at a bar in 1952 and says: "Well, hello there, baby cakes, I'm Gus Zernial, a slugger with the Philadelphia Athletics. Ask just about any chap in this place and he'll tell ya I'm a big deal. I get paid to hit homers, or 'home runs,' to a gal like you who probably doesn't pay much attention to sports. This guy (points to man at the other end of the bar) probably gets paid to repair cotton gins. What a square. But look, sweetheart, I'm not here to talk; I'm a man of action. A man of action who had a romantic encounter with Marilyn Monroe. Yes, that Marilyn Monroe. (Gives A-OK sign with left hand.) But don't think my ruggedly handsome good looks and cocksure strut make me unapproachable, hot lips. I could be your Spencer Tracy, except a Spencer Tracy who's a helpless sex fiend (slaps woman's rear end; woman starts walking away). Wait ... wait ... don't leave, honey pie. Don't you want to know why I'm in a gin joint carrying this baseball bat with six balls attached to it, breaking the laws of physics? (Follows woman around tavern yelling at back of her head.) Well, darling, it's simple. I once got to sixth base, both on the ball field and in the bedroom. Hey, where ya going buttercup?" (Woman leaves bar. Zernial shatters jukebox with baseball-studded bat.)

Card submitted by Jennifer Christian



Steve Bedrosian, 1988 Woolworth Baseball Highlights

Name: Steve Bedrosian
Team: Philadelphia Phillies
Position: Closer
Value of card: One Woolworth's coupon
Key 1987 stats: 40 saves, one beard-related injury
Eyes on the prize: Steve "Bedrock" Bedrosian had the ninth inning locked down in 1987, registering a National League-leading 40 saves to go with five wins and a 2.83 ERA. Those numbers earned him the Cy Young Award that year, but what few remember is that Bedrock was temporarily blinded in a freak beard-trimming accident that August. The Phillies, desperate to stay in the NL East race, tried to train Bedrosian to throw strikes with his compromised eyes shut. The attempt failed miserably and ended in DL stints for the blurry-sighted Bedrosian, Kevin Gross, who was plunked in the glasses with a 95-mph heater, and Kent Tekulve, who strained an oblique muscle from laughing so hard.



Matt Williams, 1988 Topps

Name: Matt Williams
Team: San Francisco Giants
Position: Third base
Value of card: To him, invaluable
Key 1987 stat: One three-day, cringe-inducing glare
A first for the ages: It's something a Major League Baseball player — or a man, for that matter — never forgets. It's arguably the most meaningful first for a rookie, and the crack Topps Company photography staff captured the instant, allowing Matt Williams and his legions of fans to cherish it forever. First hit? No. First RBI? Nope. First home run? Nah. First glimpse of a woman in the buff? Yes, sir. And just look at how that seminal moment captivated ol' Matty. He's transfixed. Williams sat in that position for three days, staring, blankly, at Seat 24, Row F, Section 142, where a glamorous sea cow in a cut-off Richard petty T-shirt bared her breasts for a crowd of 9,163, forever changing one third baseman's life.



Bobby Bonilla, 1992 Rembrandt Ultra Pro

Name: Bobby Cosby Bonilla
Team: New York Mets
Positions: Outfield, team doctor
Value of card: One Cosbylike sweater-shirt
Key 1992 stat: 197 Jello Pudding Pops eaten (spring training only)
The doctor is out: Bobby Bonilla showed up to spring training in 1992 a changed man. It was his first season with New York, and he was coming off a career high in batting average, slugging percentage and 1980s sweaters. The Mets knew they were paying for a heavy hitter; they did not know they were paying for a Bill Cosby impersonator. Bobby Bo, as he's known, greeted all his new teammates at spring training with, "Hey, hey, hey! Flippity-flop, the Jello puddin' pop! I'm Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable." Of course, nobody took him seriously — except the gullible John Franco. Bonilla, or "Cliff," persuaded Franco and his wife to let him deliver their second child, due two months later. Their teammates were incredulous, but the plan probably would have gone ahead as scheduled if not for one thing. Franco and his wife, Rose, had decided to name their unborn son J.J., but Bonilla insisted they name him Theo. The two ballplayers got in a series of fights over the moniker, and the Francos decided to go back to their original doctor. A crushed Bonilla missed three days of practice. Teammate Howard Johnson went to visit Bobby Bo at his apartment, only to find him sitting shirtless, weeping and surrounded by hundreds of empty plastic pudding cups.
Note: Bonilla does actually have legs. He's just wearing invisible pants in this photo.


Braves Leaders, 1989 Topps

Name: Some guys
Team: Atlanta Braves
Positions: Role players, backup dancers
Value of card: Two Madonna cone bras
Key 1988 stat: 212 lines of lyrics
What's on the back of the card: Come on, vogue. Let your bullpen move to the music. Hey. Hey. Hey. Come on, vogue. Let your bullpen go with the flow; you know you can do it. I know a place where you can get away; it’s called a diamond, so ... come on, vogue. Let your bullpen move to the music. Hey. Hey. Hey. Come on, vogue. Let your bullpen go with the flow; you know you can do it. It makes no difference if you’re a Brave or Met. If the baseballs are pumping, you can win a bet. You’re an all-star, yes, that’s what you are — you know it. Come on, vogue. Let your bullpen groove to the music. Hey. Hey. Hey. Bunting’s where you find it. Move to the music. Bobby Cox and Monroe. Dale Murphy and DiMaggio. Ron Gant, Jimmy Dean. On the cover of a magazine. Ozzie Virgil, Harlow, Jean. Picture of a batting screen. Mark Lemke, Fred Astaire. Lonnie Smith, pitch on air. They had Skoal, they had grace. Paul Assenmacher gave good face. Smoltz, Glavine, Lana too. Dion James, we love you. Vogue; vogue. Vogue; vogue. Ooh, you’ve got to ... let your bullpen move to the music. Ooh, you’ve got to just ... let your bullpen go with the flow. Ooh, you’ve got to ... let your bullpen move to the music.



Willie Mota, 1989 Star

Name: Willie Mota
Team: Elizabethton Twins
Positions: Catcher, Dealer
Value of card: Dime bag
Key 1988 stat: 12,234 bong hits
Big league stoner: In Spanish, "mota" is slang for marijuana. In baseball, "Willie Mota" is slang for playing stoned. Mota never played a major league game, and, as only a pothead could do, he somehow didn't record one official stat in 1988. According to court and police records obtained by Baseball Card Bust, Mota admitted to "taking fat bongloads" before, during and after every game and practice since he was 13. This is obvious in the above photo.
A stoned scout's analysis: "Dude, this guy's name means weed, man. He is like totally stoned all the time, man. He doesn't have blazin' speed, ya know, but he does have budding ability. He's a righty and ... um ... what was I saying? Mota. I love saying that. Mooo-taaaa. Mooo-taaaa. Yeah man, this dude plays better on grass. Holy toledo, man. I said he plays better on grass. Ha-ha.
Fun fact: What seems to be a baseball bat in the above photo is actually a joint.
Fun fact, No. 2: Mota says his favorite color is pizza.



Darren Lewis, 1991 Fleer

Name: Darren Lewis
Team: Oakland A's
Position: Outfield
Value of card: Whatever a fade cost in 1990
Key 1990 stat: 162 tubes of ChapStick used
The Talented Mr. Lewis: Darren Lewis made a name for himself as a speedster during his 13-year major league career. But what you may not know is that baseball was Mr. Lewis' fallback career. For six months in 1988, he was the fifth member of Boyz II Men. His dulcet tones wowed record executives and his fade put all others to shame. Well, almost. Lewis' path to musical stardom seemed paved with gold records — that is, until his secret came out. Darren suffers from a near-constant debilitating thirst, causing him to lick his lips incessantly. What at first appeared to be a nervious tic ended up ruining video shoots, cutting short concerts and creeping out women of all ages. The soulful R&B quintet was quickly reduced to a quartet.
Unfazed, Lewis got hired as a stunt double for Will Smith during the debut season of "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." He and Smith became fast friends and were often spotted around Hollywood, usually on the playground, chilling out, maxing, relaxing all cool or shooting some b-ball outside of the school. But that gig also soured when the baby-faced Lewis got involved in a seedy love triangle with the lovely Karyn Parsons and the boyishly handsome Alfonso Ribeiro. Tempers flared, hearts were broken, high-tops were mocked. Lewis left L.A., returning to his first love, baseball. He still has the same haircut.


Jose Canseco, 1991 Score Dream Team

Name: Jose Canseco
Teams: Oakland A's, Jordache
Positions: Right field, Dreamboat, Fashion model
Value of card: One shirt
Key 1990 stat: 33 hearts broken
A stud for all seasons: Jose Canseco hit home runs. Jose Canseco stole bases. He drove Ferraris. He romanced movie stars and pop singers. He rescued orphans from Yugoslavian sweatshops and lassoed meteors, which he then used in batting practice. He became the first 40/40 man in the history of the universe. Despite all these accomplishments, Canseco's legacy will be tethered to something else he brought to the game of baseball: sudden growth. All it took was two pecs, a sweet swing, dripping sex appeal and a skyrocketing testosterone level.
Putting the "stare" back in "steroids": In 1990, baseball needed a spark. So Commissioner Fay Vincent contacted baseball card company Score — you read that correctly, SCORE — as well as the most stylish clothing company of the era, Jordache. Vincent said the future of the game hinged on transforming a player into a sex symbol. Enter Canseco. At the time, the all-star was self-conscious about his body. He thought he was scrawny. Vincent offered him some guidance: "Bulk up fast." Canseco took the advice, began a decade-long addiction to steroids and posed for the centerfold seen above. Baseball's ratings grew. Lonely housewives found meaning. Prepubescent girls started collecting cards. The Oakland Coliseum was suddenly filled with fans from San Francisco. Baseball had reached out to new fans, all thanks to one shirtless stud whose legend expanded as his testicles shrunk.

Card submitted by Kevin Rand



Joe Girardi, 1993 Milk Bone Super Stars

Name: Joe Girardi
Team: Chicago Cubs
Position: Catcher
Value of card: Worth its weight in ticks
Key 1992 stat: 381 games of fetch played
A dog's life — and near-death: I know what you're thinking: What's up with Joe Girardi's baggy brown sweater? What you may not have noticed is that there's a fuzzy white dog sitting on Girardi's pool table. This is Nikko, the catcher's beloved bichon frise. Girardi would spend hours tossing billiard balls for Nikko to fetch, feeding him chalk and trying to comb frizzy white hairs out of his garbage-bag-size clothing. Eventually, the Cubs' backstop taught Nikko how to jump on his pool table and do trick shots with his nose. Teammates Paul Assenmacher and Andre "The Hawk" Dawson mocked Girardi for the girly-dog he called friend -- until Nikko schooled them in a game of snooker. But the fun nearly came to an end one night in August 1992. Girardi had arrived home from a nine-day West Coast swing and was eager to get in a game of doggie nine ball. Nikko, however, had taken ill. A frantic Girardi rushed his best friend to the veterinarian, where it was discovered the pooch had somehow swallowed a pool ball. It had moved into the pup's lower intestine, and surgery would likely kill the dog, the doctor said. Forced to choose between putting down Nikko and hoping the object would run its course, Girardi chose life. A sleepless, painful 24 hours later, the bichon frise managed an epic bowel movement. It was the first and only time in Girardi's career that he was happy to be responsible for a passed ball.
Not making this up: On the back of the card, it reads, "Nikko is a great pool player and likes to run around with the laundry."


Bo Jackson, 1991 Kalifornia Kardz

Name: Bo Jackson
Teams: Kansas City Royals, The Aces (R&B group)
Positions: Outfield; Arm on Cheek
Value of card: N/A
Key 1990 stat: Two sports, one gargantuan ego
Disclaimer: Baseball Card Bust did not make this card with the original version of Microsoft Paint and the help of the Yucata Valley High School class of 1987 yearbook staff. It was, in fact, purchased at a Phoenix-area card store in the early 1990s.
The American Legend: According to the shabbiest card ever produced (see above), Bo knows how to be a legend. Bo Jackson is such a legend, he poses in front of a poster of himself morphing from a baseball player into a football player. Bo is such a legend, he wears a leather jacket with aces on the breast pocket. Bo is such a legend, he can pose like Punky Brewster and get away with it. Bo is such a legend, he is compared to other American legends on the flip side of the above card. Now, which American legends would you place in Bo Jackson's neighborhood? Perhaps Jim Thorpe, the gold-medal-winning multisport star from the early part of the 2oth century. Or maybe Deion Sanders, the flamboyant former cornerback and outfielder who dominated in one sport and stunk like sulphur in another. What about Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Joe Montana or Mark McGwire? According to the flip side of the calamity that is the 1991 Bo Jackson Kalifornia Kardz -- please, don't choke on the double K's -- none of these athletes is even near Bo's class. No, to "live in Mr. Jackson's neighborhood," you must be a "leading American legend." Do yourself a favor and click here to see who's important enough to the fabric of Americana to be featured on the back of this disgraceful card.



Lou Whitaker, 1989 Bowman

Name: Lou Whitaker, aka "Sweet-lou" Whitaker
Team: Detroit Tigers
Position: Second base
Value of card: Nearly as much as GM stock
Key 1988 stat: One unnecessary hyphen
Sweet-lou's True Hollywood Story: Lou Whitaker has accomplished many feats that most of us never will. I, for one, will never turn a double play with Alan Trammell. I will never hit 244 Major League home runs. I will never autograph a baseball card by hyphenating my nickname and my real name. (Then again, Crazylegs-wes doesn't resonate like Sweet-lou). But to my biggest dismay, I will never out-act Tom Selleck on an episode of "Magnum, P.I." If you think you're ready, click here to watch the 1980s Detroit middle infield turn Thomas Magnum into a bumbling idiot. Well, even more of a bumbling idiot.


Ruben Sierra, 1992 Topps Stadium Club

Name: Ruben Sierra
Team: Texas Rangers
Positions: Outfield, Designated Hitter
Value of card: 1/500th of that hat
Key 1991 stat: 591 pieces of gold jewelry purchased
El Caballo's secret: Look at Ruben Sierra. The man didn't come to own half of San Juan, Puerto Rico -- not to mention that spotless white, brimmed hat or that muscle-packed, striped polo shirt -- without a little help, my friends. You see, Sierra lived a hard childhood in Rio Piedras. On his 14th birthday, young Ruben was out searching for work when a sparkling object on the side of a dusty farm road caught his eye. It was a golden medallion, seemingly ancient yet intricately designed. Unbeknown to him, it was Montezuma's legendary Medallion of Power. He picked up the treasure, and felt a sudden strength surge through him. Rather than sell the trinket to buy medicine for his ailing mother, Ruben wore it to school the next day and proceeded to stun his baseball coach by launching 226 home runs in batting practice. Word quickly spread, drawing scouts from the U.S. and launching his career as El Caballo, a hitter to be feared and a lover to be coveted. Ruben still dons the medallion, pictured, and now rents out slum housing, also pictured, to awe-struck tenants.

Ripken Baseball Family, 1988 Donruss

Names: Billy Ripken, from left, Cal Ripken Sr., Cal Ripken Jr.
Team: Baltimore Orioles
Positions: Second Base, Convalescent Home, Shortstop, respectively
Value of card: 1 cent for each Ripken
Key 1987 stat: None for Billy; many for Cal Jr.
Step 1 is Prevention: Child abuse is no laughing matter. The physical or psychological mistreatment of those younger than 18 happens in thousands of homes across the United States. There are five major categories of child abuse: neglect, physical abuse, psychological-emotional abuse, sexual abuse and baseball abuse. The latter is a growing concern among psychologists and law enforcement agencies. A majority of baseball abuse is the result of a father's dashed dreams of playing professional baseball. A boy becomes a man and longs to become a big leaguer, and when he ends up the manager of a mediocre baseball team in Maryland, he can snap. His eldest son, for instance, may be forced to become obsessed with the game, believing it is his responsibility to never take off a day, usually for about 2,632 games. This affliction can surface in the form of delusions, in which a shortstop turned third baseman, for instance, believes he is an "Iron Man," an archetypal superhero who can bat .323 with 34 home runs and 114 RBIs in 1991. Baseball abuse can also be seen in less talented siblings of "Iron Men," who under the crushing influence of a successful manager father will bounce from team to team over a 12-year career, never hitting more than four home runs in a season.



Cliff Floyd, 1995 Topps

Name: Cliff Floyd
Team: Montreal Expos
Positions: First Base, Outfield, Stud for Hire
Value of card: 2 ounces of chew spit
Key 1994 stat: One pose, just one
Floyd carries a big stick: There it is. Where? Right in front of you. It's the photographer's focus, middle of the card, staring back at you. Why are you looking at it? Oh, you think the way he's holding the bat is suggestive? Maybe it is. He looks angry. Maybe he's angry at you for looking at it. Quit looking at it. Sure, it's tough to see anything else in the photo, with it front and center. But c'mon, you can do it. Look away, if just for a moment. Now let's play some bulgeball.



Randy Johnson, 1989 Donruss Rated Rookie

Name: Randy Johnson
Team: Montreal Expos
Position: Ace
Today's headline: Big Unit wins No. 300
Value of card: 300 units
Key 1989 stat: Four batters decapitated
An ugly win is still a win: On June 4, 2009, Randy "The Big Unit" Johnson won his 300th game. Many of the victories were pretty, but some were quite ugly, which seems fitting because the Unit is arguably the least attractive 300-game winner. But baseball isn't a beauty contest, and jacked-up grills mean nothing when a 101-mph fastball is breaking the laws of physics on a path toward your face. Sure, Johnson was gangly and awkward in his rookie season with the Expos. Sure, the first time Tim "Rock" Raines saw the 6-foot-10 lefty on a mound he exclaimed, "That's one big unit." Sure, the first-ballot Hall of Famer has had the same look on his face for 20 years. But what Johnson lacks in looks, he makes up for in mullet and mustache.



Tom Henke, 1988 Topps All-Star

Name: Tom Henke
Teams: Toronto Blue Jays, Lambda Lambda Lambda
Position: Closer, in more ways than one
Value of card: Booger
Key 1987 stat: 20/1600 vision
Fame nearly finds Henke: It was 1983, and Thomas Maurice Henke was just another small-town kid who excelled in biology and baseball. He spent his days around beakers and ballfields and his nights alone. Then, his life changed. He was approached at a comic book convention by a Hollywood casting director, who told the 17-year-old he would be perfect for a part in a movie scheduled to hit theaters in 1984. The movie: "Revenge of the Nerds." The part: Nerdy Athlete No. 1. Henke agreed to try his hand at acting. He excelled, but, sadly, his scenes wound up on the cutting-room floor. Heartbroken, he turned to baseball, and again, the giant, 6-foot-4 dork excelled.



Julio Franco, 1991 Studio

Name: Julio Franco
Team: Texas Rangers
Position: Second base
Value of card: You can't put a price on love
Key 1990 stat: Two hearts, believing in just one mind
An affair to remember: Theirs was a love that knew no bounds. Players, coaches and the media said it would never last. But the passion shared between Julio Franco, a hard-hitting second baseman, and Genuine Louisville Slugger, a wooden baseball bat, was everlasting. They spent countless nights melting into each other's warm embrace. They whispered sweet nothings into each other's ears and splinters. They cried and laughed, and made love with reckless abandon. Then fate came calling. "It was a Thursday," Franco recalls. "A Thursday I will never forget." The tracks of his tears glisten as he looks away. "She ... she was my darling stick. I had never met an inanimate object like her. She made me the man I always thought I could ... " Franco trails off, reliving, as he does every day, what happened Aug. 15, 1992, against the Seattle Mariners. In the fifth inning of a 2-0 game, Franco stepped in against Erik Hanson. The count was 3-1. The crowd was silent. Then, hearts were ripped apart. Franco hit a slow ground ball to shortstop, and shards of Genuine Louisville Slugger shot out across the field. Franco fell to his knees, then, with tears spilling down his face, walked around the infield, picking up his lover's pieces, one by one. "She was my whole world. And in one moment, she was no more," he says. "Part of me died that day." Franco never hit again.



Nolan Ryan, 1991 Pacific Trading Cards

Name: Nolan Ryan
Team: Dallas Cowboys
Position: Quarterback
Value of card: Less than a ride on the Ryan Express
Key 1990 stat: Six interceptions (preseason only)
Multi-sport athlete: Sure, most baseball fans know Nolan Ryan threw a major league record seven no-hitters and leads the strikeout list with 5,714 K's. But during the fall of 1990, the fireballer took up a whole other ballgame. After finishing the 1989 season with a godawful 1-15 record, the Dallas Cowboys were the laughing stock of the NFL. Not sure how rookie running back Emmitt Smith and second-year quarterback Troy Aikman would pan out, owner Jerry Jones knew he had to take a risk. Enter the Ryan Express. The pitcher, then 43, signed a conditional one-year contract with America's Team and brought his 100 mph-plus arm to camp that summer. Ryan refused to wear a helmet or pads, openly questioning the virility of football players everywhere. The media loved the signing. His new teammates? Not so much. Ryan's laser throws broke all 10 of Daryl "Moose" Johnston's fingers and nearly severed Jay Novacek's arm at the elbow. The final straw came during a preseason game against the the then-Phoenix Cardinals, when his receiving corp avoided his strikes like Michael Irvin avoided rehab. The big hurler threw six interceptions that day, his only NFL game, but managed to give the crowd one last gridiron thrill, tackling Mike Zordich like he was Robin Ventura. A determined Ryan returned to the Texas Rangers, tossing his final no-hitter May 1, 1991.