MLB: The Coolest Baseball Card in Every Franchise's History
If baseball is America's pastime, baseball card collecting is its child.
Almost everyone who has been a baseball fan has collected baseball cards at one time or another. Whether buying rare cards off eBay or waiting for the day in February when the newest set of cards came out, every baseball fan has a story about cards to tell.
I stole a pack of cards from my local card store when I was seven years old. I hid them in my back pocket and walked out of the store nonchalantly with my dad.
And it was all because I saw the Manny Ramirez card through the plastic protector.
In honor of this great part of being a baseball fan, I compiled a list of the coolest baseball cards for each team.
About halfway through the research, however, I determined that this looked more like the funniest card for each team.
Whatever you want to call it, here is the coolest baseball card for each MLB team.
Author's note: Thanks to Izismile.com for a lot of the cards used in the slideshow.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Randy Johnson, 2004
What's cooler than a 6'10" lefty with a mullet?
What's cooler than Randy Johnson?
Randy Johnson in chrome.
Well, that's what we have here. The Big Unit in all his glory is brought to life by this Topps Chrome card from 2004.
Atlanta Braves: Glenn Hubbard, 1984
This card is an absolute treasure trove of coolness. Let's make a list:
1. Doesn't this guy look like Zach Galifianakis?
2. Notice the Phillie Phanatic over his left shoulder.
3. Is that Barney Rubble to his right?
Did I forget anything?
Oh yeah. HE'S WEARING A PYTHON.
Baltimore Orioles: Billy Ripken, 1989
Oh, the infamous Billy Ripken 1989 Fleer.
Why, you might ask, is this card so notable?
Well, as you can see in the zoomed up picture of the knob of the bat, Ripken gave his bat a name.
Yes, where Shoeless Joe Jackson had "Black Betsy," Billy Ripken had "F*%& Face."
What an absolute charm.
Boston Red Sox: Greg Harris, 1992
No, you are definitely the cool one, Greg Harris.
The former pitcher hits a home run with this card, giving one of the best poses ever captured on the front of a baseball card.
Glove over the hat? Check.
Pointing at the camera? Check.
The Holy Trinity of cool stuff might be contained right here on this card.
Chicago Cubs: Jim Johnstone, 1984
You know, I was about to write this one off as just plain bad.
But then I had an epiphany.
If a guy is so apathetic about how he looks that he can wear an umbrella hat, then how can you knock him?
In fact, former Cubs outfielder Jay Johnstone is a cool cat. He just does not care what you think about him—no matter what is on his head.
Chicago White Sox: Doug Drabek, 1998
In Soviet Russia, ball throws you!
Doug Drabek looks like he had teleported from Siberia moments before this picture. I can't exactly tell if he's wearing a dead animal or George Washington's old wig.
Either way, it's cool by me.
Cincinnati Reds: Ted Kluszewski, 1957
Oh yes, the ever-popular baseball jersey turned tank top.
Not that anyone would question a style decision by this guy; Big Klu is basically saying, "I can wear whatever the hell I want as long as I can hit a baseball half a mile."
This vintage slugger goes bare shoulders without a whole lot of shame. Bonus points for the old Reds logo.
Cleveland Indians: Rodney Craig, 1983
A recurring theme throughout this slideshow is players who simply could not care less what they look like when their picture is taken.
Example A is Rod Craig, an outfielder who did not do a whole lot with his major league career.
On this day, he did not a whole lot, period. He rolled out of bed, threw on his jersey and took a baseball card picture. Cool.
By the way, for those of you who were wondering, the Charleston Charlies were an old Triple-A team. In this instance, they were the affiliate of the Indians.
Colorado Rockies: Bo Bowman, 2010
Why? Because his last name is the same as the card company.
A Bowman card for Bo Bowman. How cool is that?
Seriously, put yourself in his shoes.
"Hey guys, I might be a career minor leaguer, but if my career amounts to nothing more, at least I have a Bowman card with my own name on it twice."
Now that's a pickup line if I've ever heard one.
Detroit Tigers: Ty Cobb, 1914
One of the most classic images ever to appear on a baseball card is this one of Ty Cobb.
The 1914 Cracker Jack Ty Cobb card is worth a cool $5,000. It is not an extremely rare card like the T206 Honus Wager, which you'll see later, but it is nevertheless an awesome relic.
Cobb was, without a doubt, the greatest Tiger of all time, and fittingly enough he has the team's coolest card of all time.
Florida Marlins: Billy the Marlin, 2008
No Marlins player's card was really jumping out at me, so I knew I wanted to do Billy the Marlin. Then, I stumbled on this.
This is an actual baseball card, I believe, but it is a sketch.
Whether it's legit or not, it looks pretty damn cool, and whoever Ken Brandy is did a heck of a job.
And having Billy the Marlin on a baseball card is cool, too.
Houston Astros: Jeff Bagwell, 1992
Jeff Bagwell is one of the coolest baseball players ever. He always wore sunglasses, it seems, and the older he got, the cooler the glasses looked.
But this card, from 1992, is an exception to that rule.
Yes, Bagwell is rocking the ever-popular flip-up sunglasses. He looks young, not-so-eager, but cool nevertheless as he watches something without the aid of his trusty glasses.
Kansas City Royals: Bo Jackson (Breaker?), 1991
This is Bo Jackson, right?
I mean, Bo Breaker is pretty cool too, especially considering he just broke a wooden baseball bat over his NFL thigh.
Seriously, what compels people to break bats over their legs? I can understand Jackson doing it because he has enough muscle on that thigh where a bullet probably wouldn't even cause bleeding. But some people who break their bats are just plain stupid.
I'm going on a tangent. This is cool.
Also cool: all baby-blue Royals uniforms.
Los Angeles Angels: Rex Hudler
I feel bad because I could not find a year for this card or a better-looking version of it, but this will have to do.
I'm not sure whether to call this one cool or not (hint: it's not), but this absolutely might qualify as the creepiest baseball card ever made.
Really, Rex? Of all the things to do in a picture for a baseball card, you're sliding down a dugout pole?
Maybe he was trying to be a fireman.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Wally Moon, 1959
Wally Moon—making unibrows cool since 1959.
Milwaukee Brewers: Pete Ladd, 1986
Yeah, Pete Ladd. You rock that porn stache.
You also rock that curly mullet.
You also rock that ugly Brewers uniform?
Why were any of these in style in 1986?
Minnesota Twins: Mickey Hatcher, 1986
If you're not a rap music fan, you might not get this reference. But the glove that Mickey Hatcher is wearing here would fit very easily on Ludacris' arm in the music video for "Get Back," no?
Nevertheless, Hatcher has some serious swagger for using a glove the size of his entire torso. It's a ballsy move, but it turns into a pretty funny and, honestly, pretty cool card.
I wonder how many errors he made in this game.
New York Mets: John Pacella, 1981
Oh, the Mets. If I had asked you which team would have a card where the player's hat is on the ground mid-throw, which team would you pick?
I thought so.
Here, John Pacella is demonstrating why he needed a haircut, why his hat needed to be tighter or why his pitching motion should have been less violent—one of the three.
New York Yankees: Mickey Mantle, 1952
This is the Holy Grail of post-WWII baseball cards. The 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle is the most valuable rookie card ever, and it is only fitting that it is a Yankee.
The Commerce Comet, Mickey Mantle was one of the most exciting players ever to play baseball. He spent his entire career a New York Yankee and had some of the greatest single seasons in history.
His Topps rookie card is worth an estimated $97,500.
Oakland Athletics: Doug Jennings, 1989
Ladies and gentlemen, the 1989 Fleer No. 14 Doug Jennings.
Now, I was born a year after this card was made, so I need some help on this one.
Is the background of the card holographic, or is it just a rainbow?
If it's holographic, +100,000,000 for this card.
If it's a rainbow? I'll get back to you on that one.
Philadelphia Phillies: Lowell Palmer, 1970
This one probably wins. Actually, it might definitely win.
Lowell Palmer was so cool he didn't even take off his sunglasses for a picture.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Honus Wagner, 1909
When an item that is just about four square inches can sell for almost $3,000,000, something has got to be pretty damn cool about it.
The 1909 T206 Honus Wagner is the single most valuable baseball card in existence. Only 60 of these cards were ever printed.
The reason is cloudy, but the two prevailing stories are that either Wagner wanted more money from the tobacco company that printed the card, or he did not want children buying cigarette packs for the sole reason of getting baseball cards.
No matter what, a card of this magnitude automatically makes it super cool.
St. Louis Cardinals: Rich Folkers, 1975
Oh, Rich. He looks more like Rick Moranis than anything in this picture.
Whether it's the awkward follow-through captured on camera or just his general lack of anything exciting, Rich Folkers' 1975 baseball card is cool for one reason—it is the most boring card ever.
San Diego Padres: Bip Roberts, 1996
Remember Bip Roberts?
It's amazing how easy it is to forget everyday players from only a few years ago. But Roberts appears in this 1996 Score card with a sombrero. Whether this is a candid picture or a planned one is up for debate, but whatever the case, it remains a sombrero.
Combine that with the menacing look on Roberts' face (or is it troubled?), and you have one of the most peculiar, yet hilarious cards of all time.
San Francisco Giants: Randy McCament, 1990
Remember when I said the Rex Hudler card was the creepiest?
Yeah, I was wrong. This one blows it out of the water.
Seattle Mariners: Ken Griffey, Jr., 1989
If you collect cards made in the last 25 years, you'll almost certainly recognize this one. The Upper Deck Ken Griffey, Jr. rookie card from 1989 is one of the most recognizable rookie cards ever made.
It captures the essence of "The Kid"—a genuine smile, a bat in his hands and a big "S" on his hat. There is nothing much cooler than the rookie card of a future great. This definitely qualifies.
Tampa Bay Rays: Toe Nash, 2001
The (Devil) Rays didn't have much luck with young outfielders early on in their existence. Aside from Josh Hamilton, there was Greg "Toe" Nash, who was supposed to have Ruthian power.
Well, he raped a girl and never made the majors.
So why is this card cool? Well, for one, it's the only card on this slideshow that I have.
And two, his name is Toe. Toe. Toe.
His name is Toe.
Texas Rangers: Bump Wills, 1977
I saw this card and it raised several questions in my mind:
1. Why was this taken at Yankee Stadium?
2. How perfect of a name is Bump Wills? Doesn't it just sound like one of those down-home Texas cowboys?
3. Why don't the Rangers wear this uniform any more?
All of these questions have the same answer: It's cool.
Toronto Blue Jays: Keith Comstock, 1989
Look at the ball.
After this picture was taken, the one with seams is the only ball Keith Comstock has.
Feast your eyes on the most painful baseball card in history.
And for those wondering, the team he is playing for, the Las Vegas Stars, later became the Las Vegas 51s, a minor league affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays.
Washington Nationals: Randy Johnson, 1989
I promise that I didn't intend for this list to begin and end with Randy Johnson, but here you go.
This is the coolest Expos/Nationals card I could find, the rookie card of the Big Unit from 1989. The brilliant part about this is that Johnson looks just as creepy in 1989 as he does in 2004.
But this time, he's in the classic Montreal apparel. Little did we know at this point he would go on to become one of the great power pitchers of all time and the official spokesman for the mullet.