(Today I bought some cards in the card aisle for the first time in 3 weeks. It was just a 3-pack of Chrome -- with the 5 pink parallels -- and the guy at the checkout asked if they put gum with cards anymore. I said, no, not really. He said his brother used to buy "old 40-year-old packs" with gum in them and eat the gum. I didn't ask him if his brother was still alive. It's time for Cardboard Appreciation. This is the 273rd in a series):
In 1992, Pinnacle arrived onto the baseball card scene with a sleek, slick first set that framed its players in midnight black. I didn't like much about cards in 1992, but I did like Pinnacle.
Pinnacle also featured an interesting subset that year called "Idols". This set -- similar in look to Topps' sets of the mid-1950s -- displayed a pair of photos, a smaller color action photo of the current player and a larger, sepia-toned image of the player's idol. (There was also an "Idols" insert set that featured rookies. That set featured horizontal cards and all-color images).
Pinnacle followed the same pattern with another Idols set in 1993.
The sets were a nice way to get old stars on current cards again. I particularly like the Gregg Jefferies card because his idol was Ron Cey.
But the card that interests me most is the 1992 David Cone Idols card because he did not pick a sports figure as his idol. He picked legendary 1950s comic Jackie Gleason.
Out of all of the Idols subset cards in 1992, Cone is the only one who mentioned a non-sports person. Even the players who selected non-baseball players were a rarity as, including Cone, there are only three of them.
Here are the two checklists:
1992 Pinnacle Idols
585 - Steve Avery; Idol: Jack Morris
586 - Roberto Alomar; Idol: Sandy Alomar Sr.
587 - Scott Sanderson; Idol: Catfish Hunter
588 - David Justice; Idol: Willie Stargell
589 - Rex Hudler; Idol: Roger Staubach (NFL)
590 - David Cone; Idol: Jackie Gleason (comic/actor)
591 - Tony Gwynn; Idol: Willie Davis
1993 Pinnacle Idols
477 - Lenny Dykstra/Idol: Ken Stabler (NFL)
478 - Danny Tartabull/Idol: Jose Tartabull
479 - Jeff Conine/Idol: Dale Murphy
480 - Gregg Jefferies/Idol: Ron Cey
481 - Paul Molitor/Harmon Killebrew
482 - John Valentin/Dave Concepcion
483 - Alex Arias/Dave Winfield
So for the idols that's 11 baseball players, two football players and a comedian.
To me, that makes David Cone the most interesting figure in that entire subset.
There is a reason why I gravitate toward pitchers in baseball. They are often the most colorful individuals, and sometimes the most intelligent in the game. The deep-thinkers seem to be pitchers. The players with varied interests seem to be pitchers.
While batters are listing their hobbies as "sports" on the back of their Kellogg's 3-D cards, pitcher Steve Rogers lists "arrowheads" and pitcher Dan Quisenberry mentions "stand-up comedy".
I like players who are interesting, not one-dimensional "I'm good at baseball" robots. This goes to the root of why I am a writer. I like to profile people because I find people interesting. And I find very interesting people very interesting.
David Cone is an interesting dude who had an interesting career. You don't believe me? Read this. All during his career teammates would call him goofy and "that crazy kid." He had a temper that came out of nowhere. He got himself into some weird situations. He enjoyed writing and his goal as a youngster was to become a sportswriter like Oscar Madison in "The Odd Couple".
I didn't like Cone much during his time with the Mets, because his team was always knocking heads with my Dodgers in the late 1980s. (Cone also wrote a story for the newspaper during the NLCS that backfired on him as it gave the Dodgers ammunition for the series). But if I could view him objectively I'd find someone strange and interesting, who was the only one that would go out on a limb and say, "I'm not just about baseball, I like other stuff, too. Jackie Gleason is pretty funny."
Because not only does that make the player interesting, it makes the card interesting.