That reminds me of a story…

August 29, 2013

Bob Hamelin baseball card.Josh Levin of Slate’s Hang Up and Listen podcast posted this educational piece on “The Worst Baseball Card of All Time.” Spoiler alert: It’s Bob Hamlin in the 1996 Pinnacle Foil set (card no. 289).

Levin’s essay makes some very good arguments and offers a mini-history lesson on the industry, full of links to examples of other sites’ posts of similarly hideous but not-quite-as-awful cards.

This reminds me of a gross oversight in 501 Baseball Books Fans Must Read before They Die: the omission of The Great American Baseball Card Flipping, Trading and Bubble Gum Book by Fred Harris and Brendan Boyd. (Boyd is also author of Blue Ruin: A Novel of the 1919 World Series.) The GABBCFTBGB is full of great nostalgia not just for bad cards — most, if not all, produced by Topps, if memory serves — but for the bad players without which the cards wouldn’t be necessary, to weirdly paraphrase Yogi Berra.

I would love to see a second volume, but I don’t know if the explosion of additional companies (Fleer, Upper Deck, Score, etc.) and sets would yield the same fun feeling.

If I ever do a sequel to 501, you can be sure GABBCFTBGB will be in there.


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