A Gallery of Forgettable Sports Cards

I can’t begin to calculate the number of hours I spent as a lad collecting, storing, and trading sports cards. I never cared about their monetary value (unlike many of my friends). I simply enjoyed the experience of opening the packs, looking at the pictures, and filling in holes in my collection. It’s a good thing too, as 99% of my collection isn’t worth the paper it was printed on.

I got out of the sports card scene right about the time it became more of a business venture than a hobby. And now thanks to unscrupulous manufacturers, collectors, and dealers the industry exists now as a shadow of its former glory. There are many reasons for this decline, but as I dug through the remnants of my collection the other day the common denominator occurred to me – most of the cards flat out sucked. Lame pictures of below-average pro athletes may have been appealing at one time, but now they’re blog fodder.

While there are hundreds of potential examples of this suckitude I could share with you, I only had the patience to scan a handful:


Exhibit A — Uninspired Photography (Fleer, 1984)

Up first we find sub-par pitcher Jerry Augustine cozying up to a clipboard on the dugout steps. I know he actually pitched in 1983, because the back of the card tells me so. But why bother with a photo of that when a kid can gaze upon the immortal image of him taking notes?!

Jerry Augustine 1984 Fleer baseball card

Action!

Next up is journeyman outfielder Jay Johnstone, sporting an ultra-classy and fashionable Budweiser rain hat. While 1983 may not have been a banner year for Jay (.257 average, 6 HR, 22 RBI), is this really the best Fleer could do?

Jay Johnstone 1984 Fleer baseball card

Stay dry, my friends.

Finally here’s Glenn Hubbard, taking advantage of “Free Reptile Day” at the ballpark. Sure it’s a cute picture, but I have a similar one from my honeymoon and I wouldn’t dare sell it on a trading card.

Glenn Hubbard 1984 Fleer baseball card

It’s a fact – snakes love powder blue.

Exhibit B – Mining for “Prospects” (Pro Set, 1989)

No longer content with waiting for rookies to make it big and reap the benefit of increased card value, Pro Set included a series of “Pro Set Prospect” cards featuring highly touted players who had yet to sniff an NFL down. And for every prospect that actually made it in the NFL, you had a dozen busts like Tony Mandarich. This was a jaded and misguided attempt to artificially drive card value up.

Tony Mandarich 1989 Pro Set football card

Roids? What roids?

And this card features what is presumably a scouting photo of wide receiver Don Beebe, although it looks more like a frame from the Zapruder film. While it sure looked mysterious enough, it made for a crappy card.

Don Beebe 1989 Pro Set football card

Surely Don will get the Bills that elusive Super Bowl win.

Exhibit C – Announcer Cards (Pro Set, 1989)

I’m sure announcer cards seemed like a clever idea during some pitch meeting, but come on now. Imagine tearing open a pack of football cards, hoping for a Joe Montana or Barry Sanders, and getting Bob frigging Costas. And he was one of the bigger names in the set.

Bob Costas 1989 Pro Set football card

Exhibit D – Coach Cards (Pro Set, 1989)

Head coach cards were only slightly better (and more relevant) than announcer cards, but not by much.

Lindy Infante 1989 Pro Set football card

Exhibit E – PSAs on Cards (Pro Set, 1992)

I don’t know of many kids who would willingly pay for lectures, but that’s just what they got with this portion of Pro Set’s 1992 hockey card set. The back of each card came with a quote designed to drive home the theme of that card. On this one Winnipeg Jets goaltender Bob Essensa tells kids, “When things go wrong, you have to pick yourself up and start again.” Thanks Bob, for the moving words. Can I have my money back now?

Bob Essensa 1992 Pro Set hockey card

Thanks for the tip, Bob.

Exhibit F – Made-Up Players (Fleer, 1984)

C’mon, if you’re not even going to try to come up with a realistic name, why bother?

Rusty Kuntz 1984 Fleer baseball card

Tee hee!

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  • mike

    Rusty Kuntz is a real baseball player
    check wikipedia
    he is currently the first base coach for the Royals

  • mike

    Rusty Kuntz is a real baseball player
    check wikipedia
    he is currently the first base coach for the Royals

  • David Gant

    The Fleer Glen Hubbard card is perhaps the best of all time. Who cares about those same ‘ol poses with a bat or a ball. I actually seek out these unique cards….this was when cards were in their glory.

  • David Gant

    The Fleer Glen Hubbard card is perhaps the best of all time. Who cares about those same ‘ol poses with a bat or a ball. I actually seek out these unique cards….this was when cards were in their glory.

  • John Smith

    Especially on the Piazza cards were tons of fake and ghenerally unauthorized cards. Those which I ended up with were sort of give aways. The cool stuff were authorized advertizing cards with Piazza on them. This stuff included everything from soap to hot dogs. and more.

  • John Smith

    Especially on the Piazza cards were tons of fake and ghenerally unauthorized cards. Those which I ended up with were sort of give aways. The cool stuff were authorized advertizing cards with Piazza on them. This stuff included everything from soap to hot dogs. and more.

  • John Smith

    My collecting baseball [post 1959)was for Mike Piazza. No not for his player value, but since he was Rof the Y that year and I had my first child, a little girl. I said “Hey! no matter what she;ll knopw her daddy had lots of thoughts for her. 2800 individual cards later Istill think it was fun. Did the same thing for my2nd daughter. Only this was Hideo Nomo and I ended this one with about 1900 individual cards.

  • John Smith

    My collecting baseball [post 1959)was for Mike Piazza. No not for his player value, but since he was Rof the Y that year and I had my first child, a little girl. I said “Hey! no matter what she;ll knopw her daddy had lots of thoughts for her. 2800 individual cards later Istill think it was fun. Did the same thing for my2nd daughter. Only this was Hideo Nomo and I ended this one with about 1900 individual cards.

  • http://clever-title.livejournal.com/ clever-title

    But think, if everyone ditches their Bob Costas cards, it’ll a rarity, while everyone and his brother has a pile of Roger Clemens cards.

    Do you have the Carl Yazstremski baseball card from 1973, when he had big sideburns?
    -Milhouse

  • http://clever-title.livejournal.com/ clever-title

    But think, if everyone ditches their Bob Costas cards, it’ll a rarity, while everyone and his brother has a pile of Roger Clemens cards.

    Do you have the Carl Yazstremski baseball card from 1973, when he had big sideburns?
    -Milhouse

  • http://thomnottom.com Thom

    I’ve got a few thousand cards in my basement (I’m sure the humidity is doing wonders for their value) and probably only a few dozen are non-baseball. These cards are really bad, though, and certainly explain why Fleer was a second-rate card until the Billy Ripken fiasco of ’89 made everybody rush out to buy them. At least Donruss had some quality designs to compete with the tradition of Topps, Fleer just sucked.

    I actually did spend some real money to get certain cards – but only because Mike Schmidt was my absolute favorite player as a kid.

  • http://thomnottom.com/ Thom

    I’ve got a few thousand cards in my basement (I’m sure the humidity is doing wonders for their value) and probably only a few dozen are non-baseball. These cards are really bad, though, and certainly explain why Fleer was a second-rate card until the Billy Ripken fiasco of ’89 made everybody rush out to buy them. At least Donruss had some quality designs to compete with the tradition of Topps, Fleer just sucked.

    I actually did spend some real money to get certain cards – but only because Mike Schmidt was my absolute favorite player as a kid.