Showing posts with label Witness-Protection Program. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Witness-Protection Program. Show all posts


Bo Jackson, 1990 Jumbo Sunflower Seeds Autograph Series

Name: Bo Jackson
Team: Kansas City Royals
Position: Outfield
Value of card: 14 used sunflower seed shells, still moist
Key 1989 stat: Roughly 2 million images of him doctored
You're doing it wrong: OK, look at the words at the top of this card. Then look at the image. Notice anything missing? If you said, the Royals logo on Bo Jackson's hat, well, you'd be right, obviously. But most food-based sports cards in the early 1990s were required to make players look like they were in the witness protection program. No, what we're going for here is that, for an "autograph series," this card seems to be suspiciously unsigned. And while it's true that you could find Bo's childlike scribbling on the back of the card, what fun is that? Maybe we'll start signing the back of our credit card receipts and see how that goes over. Seriously, this set would have been the worst thing to ever happen to sunflower seeds if not for this article.


Curtis Goodwin, 1994 Upper Deck Top Prospects

Name: Curtis Goodwin (maybe)
Teams: Baltimore Orioles, The Keys
Position: Outfield
Value of card: There are hidden costs
Key 1993 stat: Zero photographs taken of his face
Orioles' scouting report on top prospect Curtis Goodwin: "Supposedly has some pop and some speed, but we couldn't find him to verify. ... Does a great job concealing himself in plain sight, which isn't necessarily what we're looking for in a player. ... One plus: Has at least one eye. ... Had good numbers with the Keys, which may or may not be in Florida. ... Hidden talent: hiding. ... Always keeps his glove in front of his face, which is better than down his pants. ... Favorite color: camouflage. ... Camera shy, except in the shower."



Nick Leyva, 1989 Topps

Name: "Fat" Nick "The Tuna" Leyva
Teams: Philadelphia Phillies, Genovese Family
Positions: Manager, Capo
Value of card: "Hey, oh, who's askin', wiseguy?"
Key 1988 stat: 162 times the Phillies didn't cover the spread
The Legend of Fat Nick the Tuna: As a mid-level mafioso, "Fat" Nick "The Tuna" Leyva bungled orders and commanded little respect. His racket was gambling, but the bosses couldn't bet on his results. Fat Nick was a made guy, so whacking him wasn't in the cards. "Hey, oh, this Fat Nick, he's a strunzo. I need a bigger taste of the baseball business," one boss said to another over some gabagool. "In this thing of ours, ya know, a guy like Fat Nick can be valuable," the other boss said. "Let's send this jamoke to Philadelphia and get him in the game." Within weeks, Fat Nick the Tuna was reassigned from Brooklyn to Philadelphia, where he gave the Phillies' owner an offer he couldn't refuse. Fat Nick was named the manager in 1988, and the team fell short of the spread in every game that season. The Phillies' play suffered under the weight of Fat Nick's questionable decisions, but the family in New York raked in the dough. Fans said the team was in the dumps. Fat Nick agreed, somewhat: "My crew, we're in the waste management business."



Erik Hanson, 1989 Donruss

Name: Erik Hanson
Team: Seattle Mariners
Position: Pitcher
Value of card: Your milk money
Key 1988 stat: 914 nerd alerts
What a dork: Erik Hanson was a nerd. He collected model trains, could speak Klingon and ran a weekly Dungeons & Dragons game out of his parents' basement. This did not translate well during his rookie season with the Mariners. After challenging teammate Mickey Brantley to a game of Magic, Brantley gave Hanson a series of noogies, a swirly and a wedgie so atomic that Hanson had to remove his own Fruit of the Loom tag from his gall bladder. After weeping for an hour in his locker, a mortified Hanson requested a trade and entered the witness-protection program, changing his name to Craig Counsell.


Ozzie Canseco, 1993 Pinnacle

Name: "Ozzie" Canseco
Team: St. Louis Cardinals
Position: Outfield
Value of card: The tails side of a nickel
Key 1992 stat: Zero "Joses." That's right. Don't even bother checking any documents.
The old switcheroo: Jose Canseco was a slugger known in the early 1990s for his towering home runs and Hollywood lifestyle. He had an ego as big as his bat, and both were often on display. Then, Jose Canseco's life came crumbling down. He got divorced, arrested and was accused of using steroids as a tool of his trade. With his life in a tailspin, Canseco left the game. A few months later, the Cardinals signed a slugging outfielder by the name of "Ozzie" Canseco. He hit for power, ran with speed and always wore a shirt that read, "Bash Brother 4 Life." Reporters pestered "Ozzie" about his past. He would shirk the questions and point to what he called a birthmark on his hand. "See, how could I be Jose with this birthmark?" he would say. A reporter would usually speak up and tell him it looked like a circle colored in with a Sharpie marker. "Pay that no mind," Ozzie would say, "I am Ozzie Canseco, brother to Jose, who has disappeared and left me, a clean, sober, law-abiding physical specimen to carry the baseball torch for the Canseco kin." To this, a reporter would usually say, "Jose?" To which "Ozzie" would always turn and reply, "Yes," before running from the locker room.



Larry Parish, 1986 Topps; Vance Law, 1989 Topps

Names: Larry Parrish
Alias: Vance Law
Teams: Texas Rangers, Chicago Cubs
Positions: Outfield, third base
Value of cards: Secrets contained within could cost you your life
Key 1988 stat: One new identity
The reborn identity: Larry Parrish could hit. Larry Parrish could throw. Larry Parrish could field. But he wouldn't put on the correct uniform. First his teammates, then his manager, then Major League Baseball's commissioner told him to change his look, to shed the mesh jersey and the hat with the bent-in sides. He wouldn't listen. He felt comfortable in the breathable garment and the squished cap. His rejection of baseball's rules landed him on the bench, then out of the game. Parrish was lost without the game he held dear. He spoke with a private investigator, who pointed him in the direction of dingy Chinese food restaurant with an alley entrance. There, a man with three thumbs and one eye supplied Parrish with a new identity, a former mercenary named Vance Law. Parrish became the Law, as he would say, and worked his way back to the big leagues in 1989, earning a spot on the Chicago Cubs. Parrish's team changed. Parrish's name change. But how he wore his uniform would never change.



Ryne Sandberg, 1990 Wonder Bread Stars

Name: Ryne Sandberg
Team: That's of no consequence to you
Positions: Second base, Fourth outfielder
Value of card: ?
Key 1989 stat: FBI case No. 621953
A season in hiding: In 1989, Chicago Cubs second baseman Ryne Sandberg witnessed a mafia hit in the Windy City. Fearing for his life, he went to the police and was placed in the witness-protection program. He pleaded for the opportunity to remain a major leaguer, but the FBI deemed it too risky. The federal government bought Sandberg's contract from the Cubs and sent him to Fargo, N.D., where he began work as a Home Depot garden department stock boy. But "Rhino" became despondent; he missed baseball. He knew he couldn't return to the big leagues, so he joined the FBI's witness-protection traveling softball team, the Unknown Wonder Stars. The team wanted to stay under the radar, so they wore no insignias on their jerseys or hats, and went by alternate names. Sandberg became "Rusty Slowenpop," batted third and left his beloved second base to become the all-important fourth outfielder. After Sandberg hit 102 home runs and drove in 234 runs in the 1989 season, the Wonder Stars started receiving attention. Mobsters in Chicago read newspaper stories about the exploits of "Rusty Slowenpop," and immediately recognized "The Fargo Thrasher" as Sandberg. Hitmen were sent to North Dakota, but federal agents ensnared them at the Wonder Series, law enforcement softball's version of the World Series. The Wonder Stars went on to win the Wonder Series thanks to "Slowenpop's" hitting, fielding and leadership. The mobsters were sentenced to jail, and Sandberg was able to return to the Cubs. Sadly, being on the longest-suffering franchise in professional sports, Sandberg yearned for the success he enjoyed with the Wonder Stars in the summer of 1989.

Card submitted by Nate Tabak