January 19, 2006

Life is Just One Big Warren Spahn Puzzle

I’ve wracked my brain for just about the worst card you could prepare yourself for when you opened a pack. Let’s face it, if you were like me when you were a kid, all of your money was going towards cards, but if you weren’t—and I can say that I envy you, but I don’t know if I really believe myself when I say that—and you were only buying one or two packs just to remind yourself you were a little kid and this was what little kids (or pimply teenagers without a girlfriend or any semblance of a life, for that matter) were supposed to buy and be interested in (and could afford to buy, besides Garbage Pail Kids and candy (and yes this would be right around the time your best friend got Super Mario 3 and you couldn’t go over to his house every day)), you’d probably be mega-pissed if you got a crap card in your pack. How much did packs cost? 1986 Topps cost 35 cents a pack, Donruss and Fleer more so, 1987 Topps went up to 40 cents a pack (but you got 17 cards a pack) and it just went up from there…until now you can’t buy a pack under a buck or even two (but that’s a different gripe).

So while I’m mostly writing this entry as a starter for an open forum, I have a few obvious suggestions and one strong suggestion for what the worst card you could pull would be.

1. Juan Samuel, Phillies (any year): Here was a guy whom Topps ‘honored’ as an All-Star in 1988 (this year has arguably the most-awesome design for the All-Star card during the 1980s). Okay, so he did have a great 1987, with 100 RBI and over 25 homers for a pretty crap Phillies team. But no one would be happy to pull a Juan Samuel card, let alone his All-Star card. Here were your Topps All-Star second basemen in the Eighties. American League:1982 gave us Willie Randolph, 83 Bobby Grich, 84 Sweet Lou Whitaker, 85 & 86 Damaso Garcia, 87 Tony Bernazard, 88 Randolph again, and 89 Julio ‘Never Gonna Die’ Franco. I wouldn’t be too happy pulling any of those guys, especially the immortals Garcia and Bernazard, though I think Bernazard is active in the Players Union now (actually, I’m not really sure about that, but I like to think he has a desk with a nameplate and a wall of plaques, including one reading ‘The Topps Chewing Gum Company would like to congratulate Tony Bernazard on being named to said Company’s entirely arbitrarily-chosen 1988 All-Star team. Way to go, Tony.’ National League: 1982 Davey Lopes, 83 Manny Trillo, 84 Johnny Ray, 85 Ryne Sandberg, 86 Tommy Herr, 87 Steve Sax, 88 Juan Samuel, and 89 Sandberg once more. Are you kidding me? They should have just given it to Sandberg every year. It would’ve saved thousands of kids from becoming inconsolable after spotting a 2B All-Star, only to realize it was Tommy fuckin’ Herr, or Johnny Ray, Manny Trillo, Steve Sax, take your pick…no one’s going to remember those guys, and All-Star status lasts forever.

2. Bill Doran, Astros, 1986: The idea of the ‘Common’ is one that deserves its own dissertation, but the idea of the faceless common is entirely different, and deserves a short paragraph. Julio Cruz played a forgettable career, recording every year on a forgettable card. Read the back of his card presented here. ‘Julio can dunk basketball from standing start.’ Do you understand the implications of something like this? Julio Cruz is listed at 5’ 9”. And he can dunk from a standing start? Does that mean he has a vertical leap of almost 5 feet? Is that for real? I really want to meet him and make him dunk a basketball. But Bill Doran? There’s nothing great about his career, nothing great about how he spends his leisure time, and worst of all, his photos aren’t interesting. Just a faceless common Topps needed to fill the 792 card quota. Faceless commons present a very strong case as being the worst cards to pull.

3. Doubles. In the same pack. Get a double in a pack sucks, unless it’s of a very good player, but the odds of that would probably be very slim because of print runs, et cetera. Somehow I remember ending up with tons of Lance McCullers, Padres in the 1989 Topps set, (and I just opened two 1989 Donruss packs just now and got a Mark Lemke in each pack…Donruss might as well as just’ve made the puzzle that year Mark Lemke, which leads me to…)

4. The Boring Puzzle Piece, any year, Donruss: unless you got the face or the logo or bat or something, there was nothing fun about the Donruss Puzzle. It was just wasted space.

I leave the rest of this thought to you. What’s the worst card to pull?

12 comments:

Captain Easychord said...

Tony Bernazard is currently working as the special assistant to Mets GM, Omar Minaya. It was Bernazard who alienated then-free agent Carlos Delgado away from the Mets by trying to talk to him in "street spanish". Evidently things have been patched up to some degree as the Mets went ahead and dealt for Delgado this offseason...

David said...

1977 Brian Downing. Or, 1977 Johnny Grubb.

Eric B. said...

Any checklist card. Ugh!

Anonymous said...

1989 Topps Danny Gladden

Anonymous said...

1970 George Mitterwald or 1970 Dick Drago

I was 7 and it was my first year collecting. Stores in my area sold series one all summer long so I could never get an Aaron or Mays card (let alone my favorite player Bobby Murcer). Every pack I bought contained Drago and Mitterwald, something my father reminds me of to this day.
Yaz was a series one card, too. Why couldn't I get him in every pack.

Anonymous said...

Was the person at Topps who coined "Julio can dunk basketball from standing start" a caveman? I can't believe I am going to have to dig out my cards to confirm that it really says that.

Anonymous said...

the biggest power-down I can recall is the 1988 Topps Dickie Noles. My brother and I used to force them on each other in trades.

Anonymous said...

Came across this site today and it made me laugh. I hated getting ALL of the guys mentioned in the 80's.

Non Player: I hated getting the 1990 Topps Bart Giamatti card in a pack.

Player: Probably when you saw the name Ripken at the bottom of the card only to find out that it is Billy Ripken!!!

Mancandy said...

Giamatti's dead likeness used to pull a $1 in Beckett.

I would have loved to pull a FFace Billy Ripken from a Fleer pack instead of feeding my Beavis and Butthead sophomoric entertainment from an eBay auction.

My worst 80's pull I can remember...freakin' 1988 Donruss Roberto Alomar. Having just looked at my stash, I've got 10. I'm tainted on any Roberto Alomar card now. Donruss made me hate this guy.

Great blog.

Anonymous said...

For all the hate I had for Roberto Alomar because he always stared up at me from every 1988 Donruss pack I opened...I could never get a 1980 Francisco Barrios. Took me years to track that danged card down as a kid.

Anonymous said...

Today's cards, when there is that thick promo-advertisement card in the middle of a UD pack... I paid for that?

Steve Rubis said...

For me it was definitely Gino Petralli. My dad and I still joke about pulling Geno Petralli cards. He was a back-up catcher for the Texas Rangers in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Another card would be Dave Valle. For some reason when we used to open junk wax, anything from 1988 through 1992, we seemed to get Gino Petralli and Dave Valle all the time!