Sunday, February 5, 2012

Great moments in "birds on baseball cards"

As the baseball card blog world's night owl, I feel obligated to keep tabs on things like this.

I haven't come across very many birds on baseball cards. Granted, I haven't looked through my entire collection. I don't have time for stuff like that. But you'd think there would be a stray bird here or there walking on the field during spring training drills or even soaring through the sky in the distance in the background.

There doesn't seem to be much of that.

Personally, I think it's because birds are freaked out by baseball players. They have their reasons, as you'll see in a moment.

But despite their absence, I am going to chronicle instances of birds on baseball cards, whether they're real birds or not. I will update this post as I find more. Also, if you find some, let me know. I'll include scans if you'd like to email them, or I'll fetch the card in my collection if I have it.

I know there are birds on old-timey tobacco cards, but I'm trying to keep this to baseball card sets if possible.

What I have so far:

1975: In the mid-1970s, the Royals feature a relief pitcher named Doug Bird. He probably faked out a few of our flying feathered friends who thought there was a real bird on the team and flew over to the stadium to check it out. Sorry birds, just a guy dressed in a powder blue outfit.

1981: Mark "The Bird" Fidrych is the best-known "bird" in baseball at this time (no offense, Rick "The Rooster" Burleson). Fidrych isn't a real bird either, but the bird community is happy there's a player willing to take up their cause.

1982-84: The Famous Chicken appears in Donruss card for three straight years. The Chicken is just a dude dressed up like a bird. But fans seem to like the cartoon characterization, giving birds more confidence around the ballpark after the Dave Winfield-seagull incident of Aug. 4, 1983.

1993: Vernon Wells Jr., father of Blue Jays and Angels outfielder Vernon Wells III, paints a portrait of Andre Dawson on an Upper Deck team checklist card. The portrait includes a painting of a hawk, Dawson's nickname. We birds could not be more proud.

2010: Allen & Ginter ends a dark period for birds and baseball (see: Randy Johnson, dove, March 2001) by including a mini insert set of national animals. Featured in the set is the Ashy-Faced Owl. This night owl insists on owning this card and receives it from two different collectors.

2012: Some call them a nuisance. Some say they're mean and aggressive. Some say they're fast-food junkies. But seagulls make history in the 2012 Topps set as they are featured prominently on card #172. Not even Reed Johnson seems to mind. But if he had any hot dog wrappers in his back pocket he might.

Aware of any other Birds on Baseball Cards?

Let the night owl know!


  1. Reason #867 why I love baseball cards.

    Without this card, how many of us would actually know that Reed Johnson was still in the league? But thanks to this card, which I think will be an iconic card from 2012 Topps, he will be remembered for quite a while.

    This is my (very) early nominee for card of the year.

  2. I'd be spooked to hang out around the field if I was a bird. Look what Dave Winfield did to one of them in Toronto in '83.

  3. How about Joey Jay, Birdie Tebbetts, Jayhawk Owens, Robin Roberts, Robin Ventura, Phil "The Vulture" Regan, Goose Gossage, or Craig Swan just to name a few

  4. It depends how far you want to go with it,
    every orioles, blue jays, Cardinals card,

    Nationals mascot "Screech"

    could be a fun set, to collect all cards depicting an actual bird on the card! sadly most will have been photo shopped out!

  5. Always nice to see 'The Hawk' getting some pub on other blogs!!

  6. Billy Martin's 1972 Topps card prominently features not a bird, but "the" bird, or so my juvenile mind thought at the time.

  7. The Chicken also had a card in 1982 Donruss as well.

  8. From here on out, I'm just looking for actual birds on cards.

    Thanks, steelehere, I fixed it.

  9. "The Bird":

    Babe Ruth holding a bird:

    DoDo (Goodwin)

    Cagey Canary:

    And how can you forget Steve Lake??? :-)

  10. Excellent research, Josh. I'll add a few of those scans and update the post when I get a chance.