My brother and I were always interested in expanding out hobbies to encompass other hobbies we had. I'm sure we didn't do this with any conscious thought; it just seemed to happen all the time.
Along with collecting baseball cards, another of our big hobbies was drawing. Naturally, it took very little time to combine the two and start drawing our own cards.
We didn't draw real players. That was no fun to us. We liked to make stuff up whenever possible, so we used real major league teams and filled them out with our own cast of characters.
At first, the cards were really simple. Since the first baseball cards we collected (and therefore the only cards available for reference material) were '88 Topps, our cards looked a lot like '88 Topps cards. We had the little 45-degree angle banner in the bottom right with the player's name and the team name in big letters up top and that left us a lot of room on the index card to draw the players' picture.
The players we created in 1988 appeared on various cards over the years until 1995, which was the last year we made a serious effort to draw a new set. Every year we added new rookies. Maybe some players retired, maybe some players got traded. We tried to make sure the backs of the cards reflected this made up history accurately.
At first, the backs served only to provide the most basic info. We had the player's birthdate, which hand he threw with, if he batted lefty or righty, and a year by year breakdown of which teams he had played for. 1995 was the only year, however, that we included actual stats on the backs of the cards. Before that, a player's yearly output was represented by squiggly lines running horizontally across the card.
We drew in pen for some reason, and we were bound to make mistakes, so there were lots of half-finished cards floating around as a result.
Somewhere along the way we had the brilliant idea to "finish" these cards in the most insane way possible, filling them out with ridiculous statistical categories and turning these players into guys no one in their right mind would ever want on their team.
Eventually, this got to be more fun than drawing the "real" cards and as late as 2001 we were still drawing these completely off-the-wall misfits.
At my parents house this weekend, my brother and I spen an hour or so going through all these cards and laughing hysterically. I figured that baseball card fans might appreciate some of them, so I'll scan and post the more hilarious ones. And really, you do sort of have to be a baseball/baseball card fan to appreciate some of the humor.
First up on the hit list is Forlona Gretzky.
As you can see, Forlona is the mascot-slash-first baseman for the Pottsberg Pirates. He also appears to be some sort of actual pirate himself, sporting an eyepatch, hoop earring and a shiny (gold?) tooth.
The back of the card is where things really get hilarious.
Right off the bat, we have some fancy interpretation of his name, using two totally different typefaces for first and last.
His "Fun Facts" are that he is "... a father of many fathers!" and also "He spends money!"
The statistical categories on back are extremely specific, highlighting "Shots Heard 'Round The World," "Times Seen Cackling Like A Chicken, " and "Shortest Distance From Second Base On Attempted Steals." As ever, categories in which he led the league are denoted in italics, with a diamond added if he tied for the league lead in something.
At this point in his career, he had played five years for five different teams. In 1997, while playing for "L.A." he led the league with 128 times seen cackling like a chicken. He also fared well in that category in 1998, cackling 116 times for the "Lou Easy Undies" to tie for the league lead.
For the Pirates in 2000, he was only 9/16 of an inch away from stealing his first base ever, and the info at the bottom of the card reveals that Gretzky is "a well-travelled veteran" who "plans to steal one base before retirement."
I wonder if he ever did...