Baseball cards are just as much of a pastime as baseball itself, at least to me. It's not something that can be explained easily, but if you're a collector then you know exactly what I'm talking about.
While the market may have been saturated in the late 1990s, there's still decades of baseball cards to look through, which also means that we have had many decades worth of baseball cards where one has to ask just why that photograph of the player was used.
Here are 30 of the most ridiculous baseball cards ever.
At first glance, the two 1989 Score cards of Detroit Tigers pitcher Paul Gibson look the same, and just show a typical guy in a windup stance.
When looked at more closely, there's clearly a guy in the background apparently "adjusting" himself. The culprit is Tigers infielder Luis Salazar, and later prints of the card airbrushed the incident out. At least this one was in the background, unlike many on this list.
The bespectacled Mike Armstrong was an eight-year veteran of baseball, and is perhaps best known for being the winning pitcher in the Pine Tar game of 1983.
That same year, a Topps card came out that may show him at his most unflattering. There's a mix between that salesman you don't want to be stuck with and Milton from Office Space in there. The other Topps cards of him aren't much better; they didn't seem to like him.
Frank Zupo only played a handful of games in his major league career, yet was lucky enough to get a rookie card in the 1958 Topps set. You only get one chance to make a first impression, so what did he do?
He brought in the unibrow to go along with the huge eyebrows. The fact that he was only 18 when the rookie cards came out makes the unibrow even stranger. Besides, at least Wally Moon's unibrow was straight and actually worked somewhat on his cards.
Moving to the more famous unibrow wearer, Wally Moon has three All-Star appearances and over a decade of pay to his name, so in his case perhaps there was some power in that unibrow.
While most of his cards actually made the unibrow look decent, it did not work well on the 1963 Topps card. Perhaps it's the way the cap is angled, but it just looks weird. He was at the tail end of his career at this point, so maybe the power of the unibrow was gone by then.
Cal McLish finally became a solid starter in the late 1950s after passing 30, but by 1960 was starting to show signs of slowing down.
Perhaps that's why his eyes are closed in the 1961 Topps photo during his lone year with the Chicago White Sox. After a 4-14 season the year before, perhaps he didn't want to look ahead.
Rickey Henderson actually has several cards in the 1991 Score set, most of which are entirely fine. When it comes to the Dream Team set, however, Henderson had a bit of fun.
Henderson down to either shorts or boxers in a greyscale picture tells me one of two things. Either this was a set to appease a different set of people, or it was to be different. A couple others went shirtless, but at least they had a baseball bat and were wearing pants.
That and I'm not really sure what he's staring at; that look feels rather odd.
One of the last cards to feature Doug Drabek was certainly his strangest. Drabek was done with his lone season in Chicago and technically should have been listed with the Baltimore Orioles in 1998, but that's not why this card is strange.
Naturally, it's the hat. If it was snowing in the picture than it would work and actually look kind of cool, but without it it just looks like he's being silly at the tail end of his career.
Long before Sammy Sosa was a feared power hitter of the steroid era for the Chicago Cubs, he was a five-tool player for the Chicago White Sox.
In the picture, Sosa looks perhaps a bit too happy, and the picture certainly looks dated especially in comparison to how he looked in the late 1990s. It's not too bad a card, but something about it is rather humorous.
John Pacella bounced in and out of the minors for most of his professional career, but did manage to play in six MLB seasons. He also managed to make this list.
In his baseball card debut on the 1981 Topps set, Pacella is in the middle of throwing a pitch when his cap falls off. Either it was an unlucky shot or his pitching motion was rather crazy. Either way, it definitely deserves a spot here.
This is a rare baseball card where the issue is not the picture in the front. Giants pitcher Randy McCament seems fine there. It's when you turn it over that something seems wrong.
The way he looks up feels really weird, and while there's creepier ones on the list, that doesn't exactly help this guy's case, nor does playing in three career games after this card was made.
Brian Harper spent the best seasons of his career with the Minnesota Twins, and was part of the 1991 World Series-winning team. This Upper Deck card, likely one of the many subdivisions of the 1990s, was entirely fine when it was made.
Of course, technology marches on, and 20 years later, the giant cell phone just looks hilarious. I mean, where did he put that when he was done with it?
It would have been quite a story if Lowell Palmer was the first blind pitcher in Major League Baseball, but of course the sunglasses are just for show as he tries to look cool in his rookie card.
Perhaps he should have taken them off, as perhaps he would have done better than a 5-18 record and a 5.29 ERA for his career.
Keith Comstock has two rarities to his name in baseball. First, he's one of the few who played nearly his entire career after the age of 30; only four games with the Minnesota Twins came before that.
Second, he appears to be a victim of being hit right in the cup with a baseball right as the picture is being taken for this card. After that, he went on to have the best seasons of his career for the Seattle Mariners, so perhaps it was worth a bit of pain to get there.
Barry Larkin is a baseball legend and one of the greatest shortstops of all time, so perhaps he gets some leeway in any baseball cards, right?
Well, when you have a stance like that with a glove on your head, that's fair game. Also, I searched around and can't make out the name of the card, and it appears to a company that's not one of the major players. Perhaps that's for the best.
There have not been many Donruss cards on this list, but Greg A. Harris has made sure at least one of them gets on this list.
The journeyman pitcher and contemporary of Greg W. Harris spent the early 1990s with the Boston Red Sox. The sunglasses and pointing is fine enough in the picture, but the glove on the head? We've had one of those already, I wouldn't have thought such a silly thing would be duplicated.
There's a line between good ridiculous and bad ridiculous, and naturally most cards on this list cross that line. This is not one of them.
The 1994 Fleer Pro-Visions were purposely a bit out there, and Ozzie Smith's certainly was, cranking the Wizard of Oz theme all the way up. The red robes look silly, but I get entirely why they did what they did with the card, even if most of the others in the set are down to earth.
If you acquire the complete set (nine cards) it actually creates an entire work of art that is actually quite awesome. This one by itself, however, is rather silly, even though I have to admit I would love to own it.
Infielder Carlos Garcia was a 10-year veteran of the game, primarily for the Pittsburgh Pirates. It's his lone season with the Toronto Blue Jays, however, that gets him on the list.
I'm not really sure what he's got around his heck. Perhaps it's to keep his head warm, but Toronto's hardly colder than Pittsburgh during baseball season. Combined with the green grass it just looks silly
Bip Roberts spent most of his 12-season career with the San Diego Padres in two separate stints. The second one was also where he makes the list.
In the 1996 Score set, his last card as a Padre, he is seen wearing a sombrero. Why? The best answer to that may very well be why not, as he seems quite focused. It's still hard to look tough and ready to play some baseball while wearing a sombrero, though.
Glenn Hubbard was the longtime second baseman of the Atlanta Braves in the 1980s, known for his beard early in his career, as well as perhaps this card.
This 1984 Fleer card shows Hubbard with a boa constrictor around him. While it's ridiculous on the surface, it makes for an awesome card. The smiling guy isn't bothered by the snake at all, and the Philly Phanatic is thrown in the background for good measure.
There are a lot of baseball cards that show players wearing all sorts of odd and colorful hats. Pretty much all of them have one thing in common, however: they all wear one hat.
Joey Hamilton, journeyman pitcher in the 1990s, is wearing at least four hats in this image. The image doesn't look all that great to begin with, but the many hats stacked on each other is definitely good for a laugh.
For the life of me, I searched around for this card but could not find what brand or anything it was, since nothing's listed on the front. Perhaps that's for the best.
Rod Craig had a four-year career in the majors, and during his short stint with the Cleveland Indians, this photo was taken. I'm not sure if he was dazed, just got up, or what, but it just looks ridiculous.
There's a lot of things that one can expect from Jose Canseco. Heck, when it comes to baseball cards, you would imagine nothing would be off limits, and he would have some rather odd ones.
Still, who saw a shovel coming? The 1994 card is just strange even for him. I mean, is he going to hit baseballs with it? I know that many baseball cards have massive gloves and bats in them, but at least those make sense.
When it comes to cards, this shovel picture is a ground out.
For those wondering about the title, as I alluded to in the opening, the 1990s is when the baseball card empire imploded, making so many subsets of cards (15+ Topps, 10+ Donruss, etc.) that it just became silly and hurt the market big time.
However, it did provide this 1996 gem of Roger Clemens. He was at the end of his time with the Boston Red Sox, so perhaps that's why he's angry. If he was trying to show a game face like he felt around Mike Piazza, it failed miserably here.
Alas, I could not pinpoint a year down on this card. Part of it was due to a lack of info I could find on the Topps Stadium club series, and since Rex Hudler played multiple years for the California Angels, that did not help.
Then again, perhaps I was just distracted by him hugging the pole with a creepy look on his face. He looks fine on any other card, so something was up here. Most scans of this card online are in low-definition, and look 10 times creepier.
Brian Jordan was a great all-around athlete during his career, and was a two-sport star, playing both baseball and football. As a result, other sports tended to pop up in baseball cards showing him.
That in and of itself I don't mind given his history, but the 1998 Topps Chrome card is quite ridiculous. In his final year with the Cardinals, Jordan is shown hitting a football with a baseball bat.
Claude Raymond was a longtime reliever, spending part of his tenure with the Houston Colt .45s/Astros. During his time there, he showed off perhaps a bit too much in the cards.
In the 1966 Topps card shown here, he clearly has his fly unzipped. The following year, he did the exact same thing on the 1967 Topps card. The fly is fixed on the 1968 cards, so perhaps someone finally told him he needed to zip it up once he got to Atlanta.
Jay Johnstone was a 20-year veteran of baseball, and he had a good-humored nature about him. He was one of the major clubhouse pranksters during his time in baseball.
Still, the Brockabrella he's wearing in the 1984 Fleer card is ridiculous for two reasons. First, it just looks silly in the photo. Second, the Brockabrella was started up by Lou Brock, known for his time on the Cardinals. Wearing something of your rivals on a card seems quite ridiculous.
The frequent Yankee manager and longtime Yankee player naturally had a rather interesting baseball card show up during his career. The ridiculous card came not with the Yankees, however, but the Tigers when he managed them in the early 1970s.
On the surface, it looks normal enough, but if you look closely then you'll see that he's extending his middle finger to the photographer, which is somewhat obscured by the bat handle.
There are a lot of players that pulled this stunt, as we've already seen, but Martin's takes the cake due to the positioning and the person doing it.
Oscar Gamble was a fan favorite during his stint with the New York Yankees, and he was perhaps as well known for his hair as his playing ability.
The Topps card during his first stint with them, however, is just silly. The hat on blocking part of the afro is enough as is, but the pun at the bottom of the card just puts this on the ridiculous level. The rest of his cards with the hair look fine, so I'm not sure what happened that year.
We all knew this one was coming. The card seemed innocent enough until you read what was on the handle of his bat. Suddenly, he was known for being something else besides Cal Ripken's brother, and the uncensored card goes for a good amount of money nowadays.