January 04, 2012
The Jay Bell Twelve
Jay Bell, 1998 Upper Deck SPx (?) series
Rule of thumb: When the player featured on your baseball card is less noticeable than your gimmicky logo, something has gone wrong.
Two things about this card: 1) It is so thick that when I went to scan it, the cover of the scanner did not close all the way and the ultraviolet gamma-scanner rays blinded me and I fell down and I when I came to, I was naked except for a top hat. 2) What in the freakin’ heck is that logo?
I have been staring at this for what feels like six hours. Here is what I know. It is gold. It is made to appear as though it has been screwed into the card, which makes me feel like a man. Its center reads SPx, which means: I don’t know what that means. It kind of sort of looks like the World Series trophy, except the sun is rising out of the top of it, and also out of the bottom of it. Two suns? That is one more than earth has. This card flies in the face of modern science. It is the Copernicus of baseball cards. According to the back of the card:
This is No. 2712 out of 9000. There are 30 teams in Major League Baseball, each with a 25-man roster. That is 750 dudes. They made 9000 of these puppies, which is 12 cards per player. I am one of the “Jay Bell Twelve.” I must seek out the remaining 11 owners of this card in a year’s time, and we will meet at a discreet location, preferably a cave with a giant wooden table, and we must do so before the sun rises in the east and sets upside down, in order to fulfill the prophecy. There, we will discuss all things Jay Bell-related over crumpets and whiskey, and then announce to whom each of us will bequeath our card, so that future generations may also meet and uphold the grand tradition of the Jay Bell SPx Upper Deck baseball card from 1998. Again, this is all I know.
Let’s find out more about Jay Bell from Wikipedia:
Originally a first-round pick of the Minnesota Twins in 1984, Bell made 129 errors over his first three minor-league seasons
I don’t want to go crazy with math here, but that is 43 errors per season—minor league seasons are only like 140 games, by the way—which means that every single time the ball was hit to Jay Bell, he booted it in hilarious fashion. There is no way a player like that stays in baseball, much less gets called up, unless:
General Manager: We’re calling up Jay Bell. He literally cannot catch a baseball, but I like his guts. Catching baseballs doesn’t win baseball games—guts do. They should call this game baseguts.
Manager: Agreed. We’ll hide him at shortstop.
Wikipedia goes on to acknowledge that Bell won the Gold Glove in ’93, so either the previous anecdote is a misprint or this is the greatest story of defensive improvement since that time a different player who I cannot recall really improved defensively.
As a player, Bell was well known for wearing eyeglasses on the field.
Ha, ha! NEEEEEERD!
In the 2001 World Series, Bell scored the series winning run in Game 7 on a Luis Gonzales bloop-single, then what would become an iconic image was Bell clapping his hands over his head and then running into Diamondback's third basemen Matt Williams' arms.
I don’t recall that.
In 1999, Jay Bell hit 38 home runs with 112 RBI after a year of 20/67 and before a year of 18/68, which seems totally legit to me. It’s as if he were playing in a world with two sunshines, which helped him see the ball better, as did his glasses.