Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The best glasses in the history of baseball cards

Well, the best glasses in the history of MY baseball cards, anyway.

Often I receive a comment on a previous post that inspires yet another post. That's a pretty standard blogger phenomenon, I think. And that's what happened when Patricia of Dinged Corners left the following comment on my post about the 1981 Topps Kent Tekulve card: "KT wore the best glasses in the history of baseball cards."

Wait, is that a challenge? Game on! I'm a sucker for "the best" and "the worst." I love lists and all of that ranking nonsense. Did KT really wear the best glasses in the history of baseball cards? I went right to my collection to find out.

What I came up with was the best 25 glasses cards. Unfortunately, I'm lacking a ton of cards from the '60s, so there are no horned-rim beauties on this list. One day, after I win the lottery, I'll buy up every set from the '60s and assemble every card of horned-rim wearers as if they are in the stands at a Sandy Koufax World Series game. Or something like that.

I also kept it to Topps cards, because I didn't have time to go through the entire collection. I'll be running a second glasses list with non-Topps cards at some point. (Yeah, OK, contain yourself).

So here we go with the list. In reverse order, of course. All results are final, but feel free to vent in the comments over the fact that Tom Timmerman or Frank Duffy is not on the list.

25. Mario Mendoza, 1978 Topps. What more fitting way to kick off the list than with Mario? Everyone else on the list is now crossing "The Mendoza line." Interestingly, I don't think Mendoza would make the list if he wasn't rocking the double-hat look.

24. Lenn Sakata, 1982 Topps. The Orioles' answer to Mendoza (a weak-hitting, glasses-wearing middle infielder). In fact, we would repeat this fact to my brother, the Orioles fan. It drove him crazy.

23. Ron Davis, 1982 Topps Traded. I'm sure batters were thrilled seeing a guy who could throw in the 90s wearing glasses that large.

22. Earl Torgeson, 1956 Topps. Torgeson gets on the list for his turtle-shell rims. In fact, he should have been called "Turtle Shell" Torgeson. If I knew for a fact he was, he'd be much higher on this list.

21. Chris Knapp, 1978 Topps. Every card I see of Knapp reminds me of "Revenge of the Nerds." In fact, they should have featured Anthony Edwards wearing a late '70s White Sox uniform just to humor me.

20. Tom Hume, 1980 Topps. Hume wore glasses throughout his career. And they were always these square kind. You don't see square glasses all that often. Rectangular, yes. Circle, sometimes. Oval, definitely. Perfectly square? Probably only in 1980s music videos.

19. Dick Allen, 1974 Topps. Kind of nerdy glasses for a man as hip and controversial as Allen. But you can tell him that. I'm not.

18. Tim Foli, 1979 Topps. Between the glasses and the cap and the hat and the mustache and that glorious yellow jacket, it's hard to find Foli's face. Why were the Mets wearing yellow jackets?

17. Tony Gwynn, 1985 Topps. Here is someone who could use a yellow jacket, but never mind that. Look at those shades! They look like they can do much more than protect your eyes from the sun. They probably deflect laser beams and disintegrate death rays, too. Great glasses.

16. Jeff Burroughs, 1977 Topps. The first time I was aware of Most Valuable Players was when Burroughs and Steve Garvey were named MVPs in 1974. Seeing Burroughs on his '74 and '75 cards, I thought he was the man. Then I saw this card. He certainly succeeded in making the glasses the focal point of the photo.

15. Dan Ford, 1981 Topps. Speaking of which. Disco Dan must have had an advertising deal with Lenscrafters or something. Why is the close-up so CLOSE UP?

14. Fred Breining, 1985 Topps. I thought of putting him No. 1, but the fact that I don't remember the guy at all squashed that. What I like about the card is that the glasses make Breining look like a mouse of a man. He looks lost and alone. Candlestick Park is empty and dark. It's like the team bus left without him. Add the fact that his Expos hat and jacket is completely airbrushed and Breining looks like a man whose world doesn't make sense anymore.

13. Steve Trout, 1980 Topps. Not a terribly interesting glasses card. But it's here because of the transformation Trout went through in one year.

13. Steve Trout, 1981 Topps. Wow. What life-altering change did Trout go through to lead to such a difference? However, this is not the biggest transformation on the countdown (said Casey Kasem). Stay tuned.

12. Mike Davis, 1981 Topps. Biggest glasses on the list? Nope. But they are awesomely large aren't they?

11. Henry Cruz, 1978 Topps. Cruz gets bonus points for matching his shades with his uniform, even though the uniform appears to be airbrushed. But Cruz is only the runner-up when it comes to his matching skills. Someone has him beat.

10. Mitchell Page, 1978 Topps. One of the most unflattering photos taken for a baseball card. Come on! He's a Topps All-Star Rookie! Make him look like a stud, not a stroke patient.

9. Bud Harrelson, 1979 Topps. Even through the shades you can see Harrelson's eternal pissed-off stare. Why did he always look so cranky?

8. Darrell Porter, 1981 Topps. It's a mystery why Porter continued to wear these black-framed, Coke-bottle glasses throughout his career. My theory is the girls were so distracted by his chest hair that he wasn't getting anything done. So he donned the chick-repellent frames.

7. Bob Coluccio, 1974 Topps. Here we go: the biggest glasses transformation of the mid-70s (there are a lot of these transformation cards in the '70s, by the way. I think that'll be a future post). Note Coluccio's clean-cut boyish looks as he eagerly takes a swing for Mr. Photographer.

7. Bob Coluccio, 1976 Topps. Yes, it's really the same guy (unless the photographer totally screwed up). Coluccio now looks like a roadie for Grand Funk Railroad. Wow.

6. Greg Minton, 1978 Topps. The airbrusher gets an assist on this for making Minton's glasses look extra shiny. Almost everything on this card looks airbrushed. The cap, the jersey, the hair, his teeth. Everything.

5. Reggie Jackson, 1982 Topps Traded. Only Reginald Martinez could wear glasses and no one would dare kick sand in his face. Jackson could make wearing ballerina slippers look cool.

4. Roy Howell, 1976 Topps. Ladies and gentlemen, the king of matching your accessories on a baseball card! Matching your glasses with your hair color? Bravo, Mr. Howell. Bravo.

3. Joe Pettini, 1981 Topps. I think these might be the biggest glasses I've seen on a baseball card. Aside from the novelty glasses that are probably featured on some Upper Deck card somewhere (no doubt featuring Steve Lyons or Roger McDowell). The fact that Pettini is also wearing an airbrushed cap and turtleneck is fantastic.

2. Lowell Palmer, 1971 Topps. There is nothing more that I can add about this guy that isn't already on this post. It's epic and informative. International Man of Mystery (Baseball Player version) indeed!

1. Kent Tekulve, 1983 Topps (Super Veteran). Yes indeed. Tekulve is the best. And this card is the best glasses card ever. Two different glasses styles on one card! The one on the left is the more conservative history teacher look. The one on the right looks like Tekulve belongs in Devo. It is a seriously great photo.

Thanks for playing along! Now put on those glasses and wear them proudly.

15 comments:

  1. I love your list. Before scrolling, I tried to make a quick list of my own. I picked a lot of the cards on your list.
    I would add players.

    Craig Robinson-1974, 1974 Traded and 1975, 74T being my favorite

    Cookie Rojas-many years, 1975 being my favorite

    Randy Hunt-1986

    I am not sure if it ever made a baseball card, but Dennis Lamp used to have glasses with little windshield wipers on them. Awesome.

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  2. Early candidate for card blog post of the year!

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  3. Greatly entertaining post! Off the top of my head, I would suggest Joe Nolan, Ron Kittle, and Rudy May. Joe Nolan's 1986 Topps is a great example.

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  4. Sorry, but I win.

    http://cardjunk.blogspot.com/2008/04/baseball-card-tournament-champion.html

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  5. When I first saw that Lowell Palmer card, I thought of the assassin that finished off Tony Montana in Scarface.

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  6. Brilliant exposition. There's just no arguing Kent as the Glass Man. We wonder if he has that on his license plate.

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  7. Great post. A few months ago I started the Kent Tekulve Spectacle Brigade in honor of Kent. The idea was to compile a long checklist of players with sweet glasses. Unfortunately, I haven't yet added any new players to the Brigade. I've still go tplenty of time, though. Unless, of course, I get hit by a bus tomorrow.

    I'll probably be blatantly ripping this post off in the future for new players.

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  8. did you read the comments on that fleer sticker/lowell palmer post? lowell was quite the ladies man, apparently.

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  9. Yup, I read them. That's why the International Man of Mystery title is so appropriate.

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  10. 1987 Topps' Jim Gantner needs to get an honorable mention especially since his glasses are on "backwards" (see: hat)

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  11. Excellent post ... the Lowell Palmer 1970 card, # 252, he is wearing the same glasses. One more honorable mention: Dave Ricketts 1968 # 46.

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  12. Thanks for the link to my ode to Lowell Palmer! I really enjoyed your countdown.

    The card at #3 Joe Pettini looks a lot like Father Guido Sarduccci. It even looks like he has a preist's collar. Here's a look at Father Guido's 5 Minute University:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kO8x8eoU3L4

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  13. These are wonderful. But where is Dave Ricketts? Cookie Rojas? Arnold Early? I've got them and a ton more on these posts:

    http://reallybadbaseballcards.blogspot.com/2013/11/hey-four-eyes-70s-version.html
    http://reallybadbaseballcards.blogspot.com/2013/11/chunky-dark-and-nerdy.html
    http://reallybadbaseballcards.blogspot.com/2013/12/shades_2.html
    http://reallybadbaseballcards.blogspot.com/2012/12/hey-four-eyes-60s-version.html
    http://reallybadbaseballcards.blogspot.com/2011/12/hey-four-eyes-50s-version.html

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  14. And that's not even to mention Bob Veale:

    http://reallybadbaseballcards.blogspot.com/2012/12/bob-veale-guy-with-glasses.html

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