Kirby Puckett, 1993 Topps

Name: Kirby Puckett
Team: Minnesota (Tiny) Twins
Position: Outfield
Value of card: A small amount
Key 1992 stat: 42 inches tall
Walk small, but carry a normal-size stick: The Bust knows what you're thinking: There goes that silly Kirby Puckett again, playing around with a gigantic bat, trying to get a laugh. Well, you'd be mistaken, dear reader. In the summer of 1992, manager Tom Kelly told Kirby that his .329 average, though good, wasn't enough to support the Twins in their push for the playoffs. Kelly advised the 5-foot-8 outfielder to take more walks. But Kirby liked to swing at anything near the strike zone, and he told Kelly in no uncertain terms that he would continue to do so. Trainer Sammy Conte witnessed the altercation, and intervened. He told Kirby about a new performance-enhancing drug, Diminitol, that was undetectable and could help Kirby get on base more. Kirby started using the drug, and by the dog days of summer in 1992, he had shrunk to the size of a wombat. Kirby indeed drew more walks, but he had trouble getting the bat off his shoulder.



Chuck Knoblauch, 1997 Studio

Name: Chuck Knoblauch
Team: Minnesota Twins
Position: Second base
Value of card: For his teammates, priceless
Key 1996 stat: 46,764 tongue-in-cheek questions
10 things teammates asked Knoblauch after this card was printed:
10) The bat is one thing, but, c'mon, you didn't think about the phallic wood grain?
9) Has your father recovered from the suicide attempt?
8) Were you thanking it for keeping your wife occupied when you were on road trips?
7) Just how cute was Mr. Photographer?
6) You realize Studio is a baseball card company, not a sporty male modeling agency, right?
5) You play second base, but did the bat make it there?
4) How long until you could sit down without pain?
3) Do you know who put 1,000 photocopies of this card all over the locker room?
2) Have you heard the one about the bat, the balls and the mouth?
1) How much bigger did the bat get when you started gripping it?


The Famous Chicken, 1992 Donruss Triple Play

Name: Chicken
Teams: San Diego Padres, Farmer Joe's barnyard
Positions: Shortstop, freezer section
Value of card: Half-dozen eggs
Key 1991 stats: Two breasts, two thighs, two legs, two wings
The Chicken, in his own words: "Cluck cluck cluck, cluck cluck. Cluckity cluck-cluck. Cluck. Cluck a clucked, cluckity-cluck cluck (squeezes lemon juice over his head). Clucks cluck cluck, a cluck cluck, clucked. A cluck. Cluck cluck cluck clucked, a cluck-cluck. Clucks a cluck. Clucky clucky cluck a cluck-cluck (rubs garlic over his body). Cluck a cluck. Clucky cluck-cluck clucked. Cluck a-cluck cluckity-cluck cluck; clucky cluck clucks a cluck (grinds pepper onto chest). Cluck: Cluck cluck a-cluck a-cluck. Cluck clucks, cluck a cluck a cluck (lathers himself in olive oil). Clucky cluck, cluck clucky cluck, clucked a cluck. Cluck's cluck, a clucky cluck (lays on grill; screams; placed on 60-day disabled list with a side of asparagus).



Bip Roberts, 1993 Fleer

Name: Bip Roberts
Team: Cincinnati Reds
Positions: Infield, Outfield, Enforcer
Value of card: One beating
Key 1992 stat: Zero batting helmets stolen
Mr. Roberts' neighborhood: "Hello, welcome to the Reds dugout. My name is Bip, I'll be your tour guide today. You may notice directly behind me are several bats and batting helmets. Do not touch them. Do not look at them. Do not think about them. Now, over here to the left — hey, kid, didn't I just tell you not to look at those helmets? What, you want one of these bats? Are you wearing No. 22? No. Are you a Cincinnati Red? With that spare tire, I'm guessing not. That's it, you're off the tour! Get out of the dugout before I stuff those Junior Mints down your throat with my fist."


Bob Walk, 1987 Topps

Name: Bob Walk
Team: Pittsburgh Pirates
Position: Pitcher (yes, really)
Value of card: One free pass
Key 1986 stat: 64 walks
Laugh it up, fuzzball: Bob Walk, a one-time All-Star who won three postseason games, could never live down his surname. Here, posing for a chuckling Topps photographer, Walk finally loses his cool. "Yeah, I get it," he yells. "I'm a pitcher. My name is Walk. Ha-ha, very funny, jerk. No, you know what? It's not that funny. There are a lot of guys with funnier names. Ever heard of Razor Shines? Don Aase? Gaylord Perry? Dick Pole? Yeah, those are funny names, idiot. God, you'd probably wet yourself if you ever met Rusty. Do me a favor and take a walk, huh? I mean — dammit!"


Trent Dilfer, 1994 Flair Wave of the Future (Football Friday No. 10)

Name: Trent Dilfer
Team: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Position: Quarterback
Value of card: 3.5 grams
Key 1993 stat: 139 times wondered why water is so wet
Serving suggestion: Take at least 2.5 grams of shrooms before looking at this card. It'll mess you up!
Two hours later: Oh my god. What is going on back there? It's, like, life. Look at it breathe! I mean, wait. What is he holding? Is that a baby? Why are his hands so fat? I bet his pants taste like a Creamsicle. Oh, that sounds good. His skin must be made of paper. God, that's frightening. Mmmm, the background makes me warm. Wait, 12? What does 12 mean? Geez, it just keeps going, doesn't it? I think I see myself in his helmet. Whoa.

Barry Bonds, 1993 Score All-Star Team

Name: Barry Bonds
Team: San Francisco Giants
Position: Outfield
Value of card: $99 sensitivity training session
Key 1991 stat: One instance of blatant racism
Score, hang your head in shame: Most of the cards found on the Bust are funny. You look at them, you laugh, or smile, or quickly redirect to a better site. Don Aase has a funny name. Ha-ha. Julio Franco is embracing his bat like a lover. Ha-ha. Al Newman is PhotoShopped into a sauna. Ha-ha. But then there are cards that make you cringe. The 1993 Score card featuring a racist depiction of Barry Bonds, above, is one of them. Think of this: It's the early 1990s, and a group of Score executives sit around a boardroom table. They examine this artist's work, nod, and deem it appropriate for the youth of the day. One fat cat in a suit and tie turns to another and says, "Sure, looks just like Bonds to me. Sign up this artist. These will be a hit with the kiddies." It doesn't take a sociology professor to see the similarities between this card and the infamous black caricatures of the early 20th century. And it's not only Bonds who got the Sambo treatment. It's a surprise that with the Score executives in control at the time that Mark McGwire wasn't dressed in green, drinking a beer and eating corned beef and Steve Balboni wasn't holding a Tommy gun. Sensitivity? Score: 0-0.



Pascual Perez, 1990 Topps

Name: Pascual Perez
Team: Montreal Expos, Jheri Curl All-Stars
Position: Pitcher
Value of card: A chance to win one of the 40 chains around Perez's neck
Key 1989 stat: Zero haircuts
A new midsummer classic: Long before the NHL tried a North America-vs.-World format for its all-star game, Major League Baseball was looking to shake up its summer exhibition contest. Commissioner Bart Giamatti, a slave to fashion and an amateur hairstylist, decided one night after a couple of highballs that the rest of America shared his grooming interests. So it was that the first (and last) Jheri Curl vs. Mullet All-Star Game was held. The Curlys, as they called themselves, were heavily favored, with established hitters such as Jesse Barfield, Julio Franco and George Bell, promising youngsters Sammy Sosa and Deion Sanders, and a stable full of arms, including Lee Smith, Ramon Martinez and the Perez brothers, Pascual and Melido. But powerful Mullet pitching performances from Rick "Red Baron" Sutcliffe, Dennis Eckersley, Rod Beck and a young Randy Johnson kept the Curlys' bats silent. The game went scoreless into extra innings before Brewers teammates Robin Yount and Rob Deer took Pascual Perez deep back to back. The game, while perhaps the most exciting all-star contest of all time, was universally panned as racist and, most importantly, unattractive. This killed Giamatti — literally. Unable to accept a world that would not accept these two flowing hairdos, Giamatti died of a heart attack two months later.


Jay Bell, 1993 Upper Deck checklist

Names: Jay Bell, William "Blackheart" Bell
Teams: Pittsburgh Pirates, the S.S. Horror of the Atlantic
Positions: Second base, captain
Value of card: Three gold doubloons
Key 1992 stat: One eye patch worn
Avast, me hearties: When Upper Deck approached Jay Bell about being on a pirate-themed, illustrated card for their 1993 set, Bell jumped at the chance. While the motif was originally meant to play on the Pittsburgh mascot, Bell instead pitched a portrait of himself and his great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather, Capt. William "Blackheart" Bell, leader of the pirate ship Horror of the Atlantic. Family history had it that his ancestor had actually invented the game of baseball back in 1713 while on board his feared vessel. Blackheart was reputed to remove the hook he used for a hand, replace it with a wooden bat and hit oranges in the air for his crew to catch. The game eventually evolved to the point where a chalk diamond was drawn on the poop deck, parrots were used as bases and the winning team was helped to an extra serving of grog. Upper Deck refused to print any of Bell's rantings about this seafaring pastime, despite the man's insistence that it was his ancestor, not Hank Aaron, who was the all-time leader in Arrrrr-BIs.


Jose Canseco, 1994 Upper Deck

Name: Jose Canseco
Team: Texas Rangers
Positions: Outfield, actor
Value of card: $5 gift card at Home Depot
Key 1993 stat: One Coen brothers movie starred in
Lights, camera, action: After taking a couple years off following "Barton Fink," the Coen brothers began working on a project about a drug deal gone wrong and a mass murderer trying to reclaim the money from the deal. The screenwriting team held open auditions for all parts — a move they regretted as soon as washed-up Texas Rangers slugger Jose Canseco walked through the door. Though he looked the part of a deranged lunatic, Canseco refused to take the role seriously. After a few lines of set dialogue, Canseco took it upon himself to improvise. The outfielder ripped off his Rangers uniform, threw on a pair of Jordache jeans, tossed aside the shovel that no one had asked him to bring and said, flexing, "Who needs a weapon, friend-o, when I've got guns like these?" It was clear the part was over Canseco's head. The debacle was enough to make the Coens postpone the project for more than a decade, until they were able to cast the actor they'd always most wanted to work with: the older brother from "The Goonies."


Damon Buford, 1993 Topps Top Prospects

Names: Darrell Sherman, clockwise from top left, "Smooth" Damon Buford, Cliff Floyd, Michael Moore
Teams, respectively: San Diego Padres, Men's Wearhouse, Montreal Expos, Los Angeles Dodgers
Positions, respectively: Outfield, assistant sales manager, outfield, outfield
Value of card: $10-off coupon at participating Men's Wearhouse locations
Key 1992 stats, respectively: 14 home runs, 43 Calvin Klein suits sold, 65 RBIs, .426 on-base percentage
A prospect in any field: Major League Baseball was awash in young talent in the early 1990s. It seemed every team had a player full of promise, so much so that prospects left the game to find career fulfillment. Damon Buford was one of those prospects. Buford had an impressive 1991 season but couldn't crack a big league roster. So he turned to another star-making machine: the Men's Wearhouse. Buford caught on fast. He traded in his cleats and cup for a turtleneck and sport coat, and schmoozed customers with the same flair he showed on the diamond. He measured necks and inseams, all with a professionalism gleaned from teachings of the game's greatest manager. Did Buford find success at the Men's Wearhouse? I guarantee it.



Bill "Billy" Ripken, 1989 Fleer

Name: Bill "Billy" Ripken
Team: Baltimore Orioles
Position: Second base
Value of card: One Sharpie
Key 1989 stat: 827 strikethroughs
Top 10 things Bill Ripken should have written on his bat knob before this photo by the crack team at Fleer:
10) "Honk if you're horny"
9) "Hold this end"
8) "Pay rent"
7) "Where's the beef?"
6) "Duck face"
5) "Topps rules"
4) "I love you, Paula"
3) "Go Yankees"
2) "Can I start today, Dad?"
1) "Screw Cal"


Andre Hastings, 1993 Upper Deck Star Rookie (Football Friday No. 9)

Name: Andre Hastings
Team: Pittsburgh Steelers
Position: Wide receiver
Value of card: Ask your sister
Key 1992 stat: One life-scarring photo session
Text from conversation between Andre Hastings and Upper Deck photographer, May 14, 1993:
Upper Deck photographer: "Good to meet you, Andre. I like your flattop. It's very radical."
Andre Hastings: "Thank you, sir. I've had it since I was a kid. My father used to rest his beer on it before he wee-wee'd in the closet."
UDP: "That's nice. Now please sit on your helmet."
AH: "Sit on my helmet? Why? Can't I run a route or catch a pass?"
UDP: "No, son, that's so 1991 Fleer. We here at Upper Deck like to show a player's, um, humanity."
AH: "OK, you're the professional."
UDP: "Great. You look good on that helmet. Now, spread 'em."
AH: "Excuse me?"
UDP: "Your legs. Spread 'em."
AH: "This is a football card shoot right?"
UDP "No, it's for Young Studs in Pads magazine. (awkward laugh) Of course this is a football card shoot."
(15 seconds of silence)
UDP: "Are you going to spread 'em or do I have to come over and do it for you, sweetie?"
AH: "Um, I think I should go get Coach."
UDP: "Don't be silly. We're just a couple of guys, having a good time, snapping a few pics. Care for a wine cooler?"
AH: "No ... no. Why do you have wine coolers in your camera bag?"
UDP: "Son, when you've been in this business as long as me you never know what's going to pop up. ... See what I mean. (points down)
AH: "You're a freak, man. I'm out. This is crazy."
UDP: "Hold on. Hold. Spread 'em ... annnnnnnd smile."
(Upper Deck photographer snaps photo)



Kirby Puckett, 1992 Pinnacle Sidelines

Name: Kirby Puckett
Team: Minnesota Twins
Position: Outfield
Value of card: Two cubes of chalk
Key 1992 stat: Zero bank shots made
A shark with no bite: To be honest, Kirby Puckett's 1992 "Sideline" card should have shown him playing baseball. That's how enthralled he became with billiards that year. In 1992, Kirby purchased The Twin Cues, his favorite downtown Minneapolis pool hall, and spent every free hour he had there. But there was a problem: Kirby was no good. His failure to grasp even basic geometry meant it would take him hours just to run one table. Determined to improve, he'd hit The Twin Cues at 7 in the morning and play for five hours before opening to the public, missing bank shots and scratching on breaks the whole time. He added 30 pounds to his already considerable frame and began wearing foot-thick sweaters. His determination quickly turned into obsession, and he began missing baseball practices on a regular basis. Manager Tom Kelly had had enough. He sent pitcher Rick Aguilera down to the Cues to retrieve the All-Star outfielder. Aguilera, who had a beard-trimming appointment that afternoon, wasted no time, breaking down the pool hall's locked front door and yelling, "Hey, Minnesota Fats, let's play some damn baseball already!" Kirby, unamused, charged the big righty and hit him across the face with his tailor-made cue. Fortunately, Aguilera's beard absorbed most of the blow. Unfazed, he picked up his pudgy teammate, stuffed him in the trunk of his 1992 Buick LeSabre and then burned the Cues to the ground. A shamed Kirby never played pool again.


Derek Jeter, 1992 Score Select

Name: Derek Jeter
Teams: New York Yankees, "The Man Show"
Position: Shortstop
Value of card: 8-point Nielson rating drop
Key 1991 stat: 9.5 feet in air
The objectification of Derek Jeter: Comedy Central had a fledgling hit. "The Man Show" starring Jimmy Kimmel and Adam Corolla was in its infancy, but viewers were tuning in. One of the main draws was a feature shown during the show's credits, "Girls on Trampolines." The running skit was what one would assume: attractive, scantily-clad women jumping and jiggling on a trampoline. The feedback from men ages 18 to 35 sprung up like, well, you know. But, as could be expected, female viewers were turned off. The Comedy Central brass brainstormed ideas and came up with what they thought was a solution to the skewed ratings. Hunky male athletes would be brought in to lure the ladies from trampolines once a month. The plan backfired. "Guys on Trampolines" proved a disaster, with a skin-and-bones Jeter, a buck-toothed Tom Henke and a mustached Rod Woodson ending the first skit, and nearly ending the show. "The Man Show" audience did let Comedy Central executives know they were appreciative that Jeter wore his uniform, instead of the jockstrap-and-headband combination that had been planned.


Cal Ripken Jr., 2001 special edition

Name: Cal Ripken Jr.
Team: Baltimore Orioles
Position: Third Base
Value of card: One DNP
Key Sept. 3, 2001, stat: Zero consecutive games played
Not making this up: On Sept. 3, 2001, the Baltimore Orioles opened up a three-game set at Oakland. It was widely known that the Iron Man, Cal Ripken Jr., would retire at the end of the season, making every road trip a going-away of sorts. Ballparks around the nation agreed to distribute free Ripken baseball cards to their fans as a way of honoring the owner of the most-consecutive-games streak. The problem on this day? The man of the hour sat out. That's right, baseball's Iron Man took Labor Day off. Fans hoping to catch a baseball hero play one last time — and possibly for the first time — instead got to watch fill-in third baseman Tony Batista go 0-for-3 with a strikeout as the hometown A's won 4-2. While this card itself is not a bust, the story behind it most certainly is.

Card submitted by Dom Calicchio

Ken Phelps, 1990 Topps

Name: Ken Phelps
Team: Oakland A's
Position: Designated hitter/Walrus
Value of card: One bucket
Key 1989 stat: Eight tricks learned
Will play for fish: After a World Series championship in 1989, Oakland A's General Manager Sandy Alderson was already looking for ways to stay ahead of the pack the next season. While on a family vacation to SeaWorld that winter, Alderson was amazed by one act in particular: a baseball-playing walrus named Kenny. The sea mammal could do everything with a bat that reserve outfielder Billy Beane could, only with more power. Alderson jumped out of his seat, climbed into the walrus pen and signed Kenny to a two-year deal worth $1 million in cash and $1 million in sardines. Kenny, of course, had to make some sacrifices, wearing movie-screen size glasses, having his tusks removed and being relegated to the designated hitter role because of his slow-flipperedness. But the experiment came to a tragic end one July night when Mariners reliever Dave Burba plunked Kenny in the moustache. Kenny, always hot-tempered and in the middle of mating season, charged the mound, trampled Burba and sent three other Mariners to the hospital. The big walrus, banned from the game, took a bus back to SeaWorld, where he now serves as a spokesmodel.


Darryl Strawberry, 1993 Upper Deck

Name: Darryl Strawberry
Team: Los Angeles Dodgers
Position: Outfield
Value of card: One cringe
Key 1992 stat: 3,128 inappropriate autographs
Clean it up, Straw: Darryl Strawberry — one-time world-class slugger, full-time world-class jerk. Strawberry, under court order to give autographs before games following a drug conviction, often decided to mess with the people asking him to sign memorabilia. "Want me to sign your ball, kid?" he asks above. "Here, let me see it." Strawberry then proceeded to rub the baseball against his protective cup before actually signing it. The boy on the left is cringing in disbelief, but still wants an autograph so badly he's willing to take one that's been held against what Strawberry calls the "straw that stirs the drink."

Dock Ellis, 1969 Topps

Name: Dock Ellis
Team: Pittsburgh Pirates
Position: Ace
Value of card: $6 a tab
Key 1970 stat: One no-hitter pitched on acid
Hey, catcher, you look like the Michelin Man, man: Though Dock Ellis will never receive a vote to be elected to the Hall of Fame, he is a baseball legend. Ellis admitted in 1984 that he pitched his 1970 no-hitter under the influence of acid. Yes, acid. Nine innings. Twenty-seven outs. One tab of acid. The Bust could write something funny about what it's like to pitch in the major leagues while tripping balls, bro, but Ellis said it best.
From Ellis' autobiography: "I can only remember bits and pieces of the game. I was psyched. I had a feeling of euphoria. I was zeroed in on the (catcher's) glove, but I didn't hit the glove too much. I remember hitting a couple of batters and the bases were loaded two or three times. The ball was small sometimes, the ball was large sometimes, sometimes I saw the catcher, sometimes I didn't. Sometimes I tried to stare the hitter down and throw while I was looking at him. I chewed my gum until it turned to powder. I started having a crazy idea in the fourth inning that Richard Nixon was the home plate umpire, and once I thought I was pitching a baseball to Jimi Hendrix, who to me was holding a guitar and swinging it over the plate. They say I had about three to four fielding chances. I remember diving out of the way of a ball I thought was a line drive. I jumped, but the ball wasn't hit hard and never reached me."
Three other reasons Ellis is awesome (all true): (1) He beaned Reggie Jackson in the face because the A's slugger hit a 500-foot home run off him in an All-Star game. (2) He was maced in the face by a Riverfront Stadium security guard during a game in 1972. (3) After stating to the media that he would hit every Reds batter he faced during a 1974 game, he beaned Pete Rose, Joe Morgan and Dan Driessen, the first three Reds hitters in the first inning. He tried to hit cleanup hitter Tony Perez, but Perez dodged each pitch, and drew a walk. Ellis was then pulled by his manager.
The stuff: In the above card, Ellis is not displaying his windup, he's breaking up weed in the Bust trophy so he can roll a joint later.
Check out the trails, man: The card pictured above was manufactured by Topps to reflect what a baseball card would look like to someone on acid.



Barry Sanders, 1990 Score (Football Friday No. 8)

Name: Barry Sanders
Team: Detroit Lions
Position: Running back
Value of card: 13 puns
Key 1989 stat: Zero weather-related injuries
It's bad pun time: Barry Sanders stormed onto the NFL stage in 1989 and immediately made it rain for the Detroit Lions. His lightning-fast speed left defenders in clouds of dust; his cutback ability shocked fans, opponents and media alike. When he wasn't bolting for the end zone, he was helping block, allowing time for his quarterback to throw a strike downfield. For 10 seasons, he electrified the league, thundering his way to 15,269 career yards and 99 touchdowns. But after the 1998 campaign, he set off a media tempest by retiring at age 30, his career seemingly over in a flash. Rumors of a comeback rumbled for years, but, his spark for football extinguished, Sanders never set foot on the field again.


Ron Gant, 1994 Topps Stadium Club

Name: Ron Gant
Team: Atlanta Braves
Position: Outfield
Value of card: One metric ton of creatine
Key 1993 stat: Second place at All-Star Game's shirtless home run derby
No shirt, no shoes, no problem: Ron Gant was a badass. Look at him. The only thing more impressive than those biceps is that mustache. In 1993, Gant was in his physical prime. When not modeling terry cloth armbands, he was ripping the covers off baseballs and stealing bases like a madman. More chiseled than the statue of David, Gant decided to stop wearing his uniform shirt, instead taping his number to his back like a marathon runner. Gant began drawing an unusually high number of walks, as opposing pitchers were distracted by the lights glistening off the baby oil slathered on his chest. Acting commissioner Bud Selig eventually forced Gant to cover himself from the waist up. Gant responded by cutting the sleeves off all his uniform tops, telling the media, "These pythons can't be caged."
Wait a minute: Why is Ron Gant's right arm so veiny? Look at that thing. He looks like a bodybuilding burn victim. Sheesh.


Justin Thompson, 1992 Bowman

Name: Starring Justin Thompson as A.C. Slater
Teams: Detroit Tigers, Bayside Tigers
Positions: Ace, state wrestling champion
Value of card: Two burgers at The Max
Key 1991 stat: Three dates with Kelly Kapowski
Watch yourself, Preppy: During the famed Saturday Morning Teen Series Actors Guild strike of 1991, Mario Lopez took a union-forced hiatus from his role as A.C. Slater, beefy high school heartthrob with a penchant for tomfoolery and slightly homoerotic exchanges with his nemesis and best friend, Zack Morris. With "Saved by the Bell's" ratings nearly at "Hey Dude" viewer numbers, the producers knew they had to come up with a contingent plan. A nationwide talent search was held, but no one could match Lopez's boyish good looks and bulging biceps. Then, producer Doug Belding, a Detroit native, attended a Tigers game. Justin Thompson was on the mound. In an instant, Belding knew he had his star. Thompson was called in for a photo session, and the crew got him dressed up in the hottest striped, long-sleeve polo shirt and white jeans they could find. They made plans to add Soul Glo to his locks and altered scripts so Slater was the state baseball champ instead of the state wrestling champ, though they still planned to dress him in tights as much as possible. For two episodes, Thompson was a Saturday morning star — until the strike ended, baseball beckoned and his acting career halted with a screech.


Pat Listach, 1993 Fleer All-Stars

Name: Pat Listach
Team: Milwaukee Brewers
Position: Shortstop
Value of card: $4 upper-lip trim done for free by your mother
Key 1992 stat: 22 hairs
The look of a big leaguer: When Pat Listach was called up from the minor leagues to play for the Milwaukee Brewers in April 1992, the team's brass knew they were getting a young, inexperienced player. Listach was aware of this, too, and worked hard to ease any fears about his maturity. "Extra batting practice is one thing," the 21-year-old shortstop said. "But I knew it was time to show the veterans I could grow big-league facial hair." Listach impressed the team as a contact hitter and a base stealer, but was a constant butt of jokes from teammates and opposing players. "His last name rhymes with 'moustache,' for chrisakes," former Brewers pitcher Pete Vuckovich said that season. "The only thing more ridiculous is the guy without the beard in ZZ Top having the last name 'Beard.'" Listach didn't let the criticism get to him. He started with a ball-point pen, moved on to hair-growth products and settled on shaving his upper lip four times a day, trying to jump-start growth. Listach was able to grow a few hairs, but he couldn't get the full, bushy moustache he saw in his dreams. Teammates wouldn't let up, either. In baseball circles, to this day, a pathetic, 22-hair moustache on a rookie is called a "listach" around the league.



Mark McGwire, 1991 Fleer Illustration

Name: Mark McGwire
Team: Oakland A's, America
Position: First base
Value of card: You can't put a price on freedom
Key 1990 stat: Zero pinkos befriended
These colors don't run: How American was Mark McGwire during his playing days? Mark McGwire was so American that all of his meals consisted of hot dogs, apple pie and beer. Mark McGwire was so American, he drove a monster truck through a wheat field to every game, even if it meant going thousands of miles out of his way. Mark McGwire was so freaking American that he sang the national anthem before, during and after every game. He was so American that he loved his mother so much, he had her cloned and married her. He was so American that he shot off fireworks every day, because for Americans, every day is Independece Day. He was so American that he made out with the Statue of Liberty. How American was Mark McGwire? He was so damn American that he threw a silver dollar across the Potomac, body-slammed Hitler and remembered the Alamo, all in one motion. USA! USA! USA!


Jose Canseco, Terry Steinbach, Mark McGwire 1989 Fleer

Names: Jose Canseco, from left, Terry Steinbach and Mark McGwire
Team: Oakland A's
Positions: Outfield, catcher, first base, respectively
Value of card: Do I hear $4? How 'bout $3. Twooo dollahs, two dollahs. Do I hear $1.50?
Key 1988 stat: One bachelor auction bash
Measuring up: The A's sluggers of the late 1980s were competitive. They challenged one another to eating contests. They challenged one another to races. They challenged one another to show, once and for all, who could inject the most steroids. But the competition reached its pinnacle when Jose Canseco, Terry Steinbach and Mark McGwire entered themselves in a bachelor auction. Canseco sent in a photo of himself shirtless. Steinbach sent in 40 strands of chest hair tied with a ribbon. McGwire sent in a Big Mac with a photo of his face between the meat and the bun. All three were given entry based on their submissions. The women of the Bay Area waited with bated breath for the auction.
The big night: Canseco, Steinbach and McGwire were backstage in their uniforms, oozing confidence, standing in front of a fake background of the Oakland Coliseum. Then, between auctioning off a high-powered lawyer and basketball heartthrob Kurt Rambis, the auctioneer approached the Triple A's. "Well, we have your heights, weights and occupations," she said, "but we're missing measurements for, ahem, that certain something." Canseco puffed out his chest. Steinbach turned white. McGwire looked down his pants. "That's right, boys," the auctioneer said. "You have to measure up before you take my stage." The players' competitive edges took control. The Triple A's pulled out their manhoods, as seen above. The auctioneer giggled, gave them a Triple F and told them to hit the showers.



Gary Matthews, 1986 Topps

Name: Gary Matthews
Team: Chicago Cubs
Position: Outfield
Value of card: What?
Key 1985 stat: When?
Time for another pop quiz:

What is Gary Matthews looking at?

(A) Nothing. He's just sooooo stoned.
(B) The really hot girl in Section 113, Row 4
(C) Superman
(D) Superman flying away with the really hot girl in Section 113, Row 4

Why is his hat askew?

(A) Stupid Rick Sutcliffe just put him in a headlock
(B) To get manager Jim Frey's goat. That guy is such a stickler.
(C) He just woke up from a refreshing locker room nap
(D) 'Cause that's how he rolls

What would be the best title for this card?

(A) "Dumbfounded in the Dugout"
(B) "Huh?"
(C) "Dazed and Bemused"
(D) "Your Chicago Cubs: Perplexed Since 1908"



Mark Clayton, 1992 Pro Line Portraits (Football Friday No. 7)

Name: Mark Clayton
Team: Miami Dolphins
Position: Wide receiver, entertainment mogul
Value of card: Three points
Key 1991 stat: One mega-hit rap video
Please, Clayton, don't hurt 'em: Mark Clayton — athlete, visionary, superstar. Before there was Diddy, before there was Jay-Z, even before there was Dr. Dre, there was Marky Mark Clayton, Pro Bowl wide receiver and entertainment tycoon. After producing the Los Angeles Rams' No. 1 hit "Ram It," Clayton realized he had found a niche. Americans love football and music, and he had combined the two into one beautiful, hilarious package. For his next project, he turned to his own team, the Miami Dolphins, and quarterback Dan Marino. The future Hall-of-Famer was at first elated with the chance to star in a music video, but creative differences soon began to create a divide. Marino wanted to do a big-budget, "Thriller"-style production, only with more explosions. "We should make it like 'Miami Vice,' but with zombies," Marino told Clayton. The quarterback's pass fell incomplete. Clayton scoffed at the idea; heated words were exchanged. Marino eventually pulled Clayton off the goalpost he used as a director's chair and socked him in the jaw with his ringless fist. Clayton fired the signal caller on the spot but refused to give up on the project. He instead called upon boyishly handsome backup kicker Cory Landry, who turned in a spectacular performance. In the end, the entertainment mogul had the last laugh, as Cory and the Fins' video, "Can't Touch Us," rocketed up the charts faster than a Mark Clayton post route.


Manny Ramirez, 1992 Topps Draft Pick

Name: Manny Ramirez
Team: Poughkeepsie Youth Service League All-Stars
Positions: Outfielder, infielder, pitcher
Value of card: One forged birth certificate
Key 1991 stat: One Little League World Series championship
Suspicion in Williamsport: The Little League World Series — an American classic that celebrates diversity, competition and the spirit of baseball. But in 1991, a dark cloud of suspicion hung over Williamsport, Pa., home of the summer tradition. The East Region champions from Poughkeepsie, N.Y., were led by a rather large 13-year-old named Manny. The 5-foot-11, 175-pound youngster threw an amazing 80-mph fastball and excelled at every defensive position. The parents and managers of opposing teams repeatedly expressed doubt that Manny was as young as he said, but Manny's wispy moustache, carefree attitude and — most importantly — birth certificate all gave the impression of an early adolescent. Manny was allowed to play and led the Youth Service League All-Stars to a rousing World Series championship, batting .904 with 57 home runs and 140 RBI. No team came within 30 runs of the champs. After the title-clinching game, instead of being carried off the field, he carried six of his teammates off it. But two months later, the shameful truth came out. After being drafted by the Cleveland Indians, media reports revealed that the "youngster" was not 13 years old. He was in fact 15, and had been on human growth hormone since 1984. Disgraced, Manny gave back his Little League World Series ring and never did steroids again.


Darryl Strawberry, 1991 Score The Franchise

Name: Darryl Strawberry, Inmate No. 1476598
Teams: Los Angeles Dodgers, Miami-Dade County Jail
Positions: Outfield, (insert soap-dropping joke here)
Value of card: Three cigarettes, you punk-ass fish
Key 1990 stat: Two misdemeanors
Crime and punishment: Darryl Strawberry has had many well-publicized run-ins with the law. He has faced charges for failing to make child-support payments, being in possession of cocaine and soliciting a police officer posing as a prostitute, among other things. These things are all embarrassing, but his prodigious skills on the diamond usually overshadowed his missteps off the field. This was true until Score decided to run a Strawberry mug shot on a 1991 baseball card in place of the usual action shot of the outfielder in mid-swing. Strawberry was infuriated. "At least they could have got my good side," he said.



Al Newman, 1990 Topps

Name: Al Newman
Team: Minnesota Twins
Position: Infielder
Value of card: One bootleg copy of Photoshop
Key 1989 stat: 10 versions of this card
Cut and paste: Having gotten its hands on a new photo-editing software called Photoshop, the crack photography team at Topps decided to have a little fun with its 1990 edition. Not wanting to screw around with any potentially valuable cards, the photo editors chose to make 10 backgrounds for utility infielder Al Newman. One version, of course, had him hanging out at the Metrodome, and another, shown here, had him standing in a seedy-looking sauna. But the photo magicians also had Newman visiting distant lands, posing in front of modern marvels, travelling through time, finding himself in unfortunate situations (and not-so-unfortunate situations), surviving vicious storms, exploring space and becoming a movie star. The Topps crew got endless laughs out of the trick, but card collectors were outraged at having to track down so many commons to complete their set. The stunt was cancelled and is now only used by talentless hacks with nothing better to do.


Dave Parker, 1991 Upper Deck checklist

Name: Dave Parker
Team: Milwaukee Brewers
Position: Designated hitter
Value of card: One pack of Big League Chew, vintage 1990
Key 1990 stat: 2 metric tons of bubble gum chewed
Sticky, icky: Dave "The Cobra" Parker spent just one year with Milwaukee, but his presence was never forgotten. Parker had put on about 30 pounds and become unpleasant to be around after quitting smoking in 1989. The only way he seemed to cope was with a wad of pink bubble gum pinched in his cheek. Pack after pack of Big League Chew would disappear into Parker's maw, and by the end of a game, his beard would be a half-pink, half-black bushy mess. The remnants of his impressive bubbles would often stick in his facial hair, but rather than trimming them out or shaving the beard altogether, Parker would color over them with a magic marker. By the end of the season, his facial fuzz was so coated with old gum and ink it had hardened into a type of protective chin strap, earning The Cobra another nickname: Helmet face.