You can generally categorize the funniest looking baseball cards into categories.
You have your “guys with strange props” like Glenn Hubbard’s snake, (which recently got its own bobblehead), Mickey Hatcher’s giant glove, Bip Roberts’ sombrero, Doug Drabek’s furry hat and Jay Johnstone’s umbrella hat (Fleer always seemed willing to push the envelope).
You have your “obscene errors” one of which dates back to the 19th century and another of which is sort of a junk era icon (Bill Ripken). There’s also poor Don Landrum who left his pants fly open and caused all sorts of problems for Topps in 1966.
You have your “goofy looking guys” photos which usually include a bunch of late 70s/early 80s guys wearing the giant glasses that were popular at the time and at least one Don Mossi. I always thought those were kind of cruel picks since players can’t choose their genetics and the guys with the specs were just the product of their time, but you have to fill a list somehow, I guess. Oscar Gamble’s 1976 afro under the cap is legendary, of course.
Lists of funny and strange baseball cards are plentiful online (we’ve got one here) but you’ll find some combination of all of the above on most of them.
Then there’s Keith Comstock, who deserves a category all to himself.
He’d been to the big leagues for a little while and appeared in the 1988 Topps set. For awhile it was among the most notable cards of the 1980s because Topps corrected a printing error that left the Padres name in white rather than blue). Today, both can be found on eBay with ease.
That error was not the most notable Keith Comstock card of 1988, however.
That spring, ProCards sent a photographer to San Diego’s AAA team in Las Vegas where the 32-year-old pitcher had been sent. His mission was to snap posed photos of the players for a Stars team set that would be produced months down the road. Of course, the Stars players tried to prank him. Lefties posed as righties and vice versa. It was the same kind of stuff they’d done for years (see 1959 Topps Lew Burdette).
Comstock wanted something more creative. He asked about posing as if he’d just taken a liner off his crotch. Under strict orders, the photographer said no to any such shenanigans. That didn’t deter Comstock, who had the guts of a veteran player not about to take orders from a photographer wearing his hat on backwards.
It took a little white lie, but Comstock was able to accomplish what he wanted and now that card–from an otherwise obscure minor league set–is legendary.
Thankfully, ESPN.com sat down with him to get a full-blown account of the entire episode, how the card finally got made and why it’s become his “calling card.” The story is definitely worth a few minutes of your time.
And of course, now that the whole world knows about it, the once dirt cheap card is now red hot on eBay.