Skip to main content

The worst of the best

Recently, I received a card that shook me to my collecting core. Nothing will ever be the same.

I've always felt that Ron Cey takes a great baseball card. No matter who was issuing the card, or what the design was, Cey's card always turned out great. I'm biased, of course, because he's my all-time favorite player and basically can do no wrong to this very day. And the card you see at the top of this post is example one. It's my all-time favorite card, and I think if folks look at it objectively, they would agree that Cey makes this card and every card better.

Since Cey's retirement and the rise in retro cards of past all-stars, he's never let me down. Every card is great even 25 years after he played his last game.

And then I saw this:

I don't know what to say.

I've been aware of the existence of this card for several weeks now, and I still can't form my thoughts into words.

I received this card from Max of Starting Nine and I know what he was thinking when he sent it: This card is glorious in the most awful way and night owl must have it.

I appreciate that and he's absolutely correct. But now the mind reels: Is this a bad baseball card? Did Ron Cey take a bad baseball card for the first time ever??? Am I going to have to form a list of the worst Ron Cey baseball cards of all-time?

Yes. Of course I'm going to have to make such a list. I have a blog. It's required.

But before I perform a reverse countdown of the worst cards of the best player of all-time, a little context. Cey is dressed in a top hat and tuxedo not to send my world crashing around me, but because he was on a Nike shoot.

Yeah, I know, that doesn't absolve him of anything. But this poster at least makes me feel a little better about the situation:

I have this poster and I've yet to put it up in my card room. But I'll get it there some day. I was looking at the blog post when I originally received this poster and I now regret what I said then:

"Cey posed for this for a Nike shoot in 1980. Apparently, it was a pretty popular poster. They should have made this into a baseball card. In fact, I NEED SOMEONE TO MAKE THIS INTO A BASEBALL CARD."

It seems Upper Deck listened and now I have that disturbing Goodwin top hat thing just because I couldn't shut my big mouth.

But now it's time to view the 10 cards in which The Penguin wasn't at his finest. I never thought I could do such a thing or that finding 10 cards was even possible, but this is a new world I'm living in now (thanks a lot, Max). Pretty much anything is possible.


1976 Islay's disc

You could make a case that this isn't a card and throw it right off the list, but I've had to widen my parameters if I'm trashing my favorite player's cards. This is not a pretty card. The giant airbrushed cap is all I see. And so much yellow for a non-Padre card. Finally, the disc is so large that you can't store it conveniently. Wiffle ball had a better idea:

Children, smaller can be better. And always, always smile.


2001 Topps Archives

This card would be a lot higher on the list if I knew that this was just some wise-acre move to get a card of Cey in an A's uniform. But Archives went out of its way to establish that this was a set of the first and last cards of past players. The 1987 Topps Cey card was the last one of his career, so here you go. But it still frosts my gears that all these years later we're remembering Cey's paltry time with the A's.


1981 Fleer

I've never enjoyed Fleer's debut Cey card. For years, I thought he was making a face in exasperation after striking out. Now, though, I think he's merely looking for a sign. At any rate, it's one of those poses that you never saw on Topps cards, and even though that can be a good thing, it was kind of unsettling at the time. I still haven't let go of that.


1982 Kellogg's

Yes, I know. Kellogg's. 3-D. Ron Cey. That should be card nirvana for me. How could there be anything bad about this?

But take a closer look at the helmet. There is no helmet shaped like that. Kellogg's got a little carried away with the cropping and flattened part of Cey's helmet. There is a small part of my brain that winces every time I see this card, as if Cey is actually wearing some papier mache helmet. This is Cey's Kellogg's finale and he should have been treated better than this.


Any Cubs card

There is nothing specifically wrong with the 1986 Topps card of Ron Cey. It's just that if you're showing Cey as a Chicago Cub, it's automatically a disappointing card. Cey played 12 proud years with the Dodgers, wearing one of the greatest-looking uniforms of all-time. Then he spent four years wearing pullovers and striped pajamas. There is a reason Cey doesn't add his uniform number when he signs Cubs cards of him.


1975 Topps '74 World Series Game 5

Cey's cardboard expressions are varied: happy, intense, focused, victorious. This is the only one where he is sad. This is Cey watching Joe Rudi round the bases with the decisive home run in the clinching game of the 1974 World Series. It pains me as a Dodger fan to see the Penguin so downtrodden.


1983 O-Pee-Chee

I will only acknowledge the Dodgers' trade of Cey to the Cubs under duress. I mostly try to avoid it. But this card makes that impossible. The phrase rings in my head. Now with Cubs. Now with Cubs. Now with Cubs. Freakin' Vance Lovelace! Make it stop!!!!


2002 Fleer Classic Cuts

I suppose there is a place and time for cut signatures, although  it's nothing that draws my interest. This card, however, is among the most pointless cards ever created (I am in PAIN over uttering that sentence in reference to a Ron Cey card). This card was already produced -- twice!

The Classic Cuts is merely this card:

Plus this card:

So I'm still waiting for an explanation on why scissors were necessary.


2014 Upper Deck Goodwin Champions

The most disturbing appearance of a top hat since Taco.


2012 Upper Deck SP Signature Edition

It's fairly obvious if you're not going to show the guy who makes cardboard great, then you have failed.

I think this card is the worst of the Cey cards. Does that make it the best of the worst? No, I think that honor goes to Top Hat Cey because at least there's a picture of him.

That means this card is both the best of the worst and the worst of the best!

Trust me. It makes sense.

Unfortunately, we're living in the era of Topps tyranny as other companies are forced to create cards like Top Hat Cey and No Photo Cey. It's not a surprise that the two worst Cey cards in my collection each come from unlicensed product from the last three years.

I think this is reason enough to give another card company a license.

I'm living every day in fear of an unlicensed Jim Palmer card featuring him in his underwear.


Dave said…
When I see that Cey card, think Heisenberg...
"Say my name."
"You're goddamn right."
steelehere said…
As a footnote to #8, the error version of the 1981 had the dumbest error in a scribbled middle finger on the back bottom right of the card.
Zvon said…
The top hat Cey is so bad it's good :) That's gonna end up being a cult card.
BobWalkthePlank said…
Now you can start a top hat mini collection.
Anonymous said…
"I'm living every day in fear of an unlicensed Jim Palmer card featuring him in his underwear."

Because I have an evil streak, I'm going to magnify your fear exponentially by using just two words:
'Underwear relic'.

Popular posts from this blog

Stuck in traffic with Series 2

In the whirlwind that has been my life this month, I found myself going absolutely nowhere for a portion of Thursday afternoon. I was in the middle of yet another road trip, the third one this week. This one was for work, and because it was job-related, it became quickly apparent that it would be a waste of time. The only thing that could save it was a side visit to the nearby Walmart to see if I could spot some Topps Series 2. I found it right away, which was shocking as I was pretty much in the middle of the country, where SUVs share the road with tractors and buggies. Who knew that the Amish wanted Series 2, too? The problem was getting back into civilization to open the contents of the 72-card hanger box I bought. The neighboring village is undergoing a summer construction project smack in the middle of downtown. It's not much of a downtown, but the main road happens to be the main artery in the entire county. Everyone -- and by everyone I mean every tractor trailer ha

Heading upstate

  Back in 1999, Sports Illustrated published an edition at the end of the year rating the top 50 athletes of the century for every state.   As a lifelong Upstate New Yorker, I braced for a list of New York State athletes that consisted almost entirely of downstate natives, that is, folks from the greater NYC area and Long Island.   We Upstaters are used to New York City trampling all over the rest of the state. They have the most people, the loudest voices. It happens all the time. It's a phenomenon unique to this state. Heck, there are still people out there who, when you tell them you're from New York, automatically think you're from NYC. They don't think of cows and chickens when they think of New York. But trust me, there are a lot of cows and chickens in New York State. Especially cows.   So, anyway, when I counted up the baseball players that SI listed as the greatest from New York State, six of the nine were from New York City or Long Island. I was surprised all

G.O.A.T, the '80s: 30-21

  I often call this current period of the television sports calendar the black hole of sports programming. The time between the end of the Super Bowl and the beginning of televised Spring Training baseball games is an empty void when I'm looking for something to watch on traditional television. I don't watch the NBA and the NHL on TV holds my interest for maybe a period. College basketball I can't watch until the tournament. This didn't used to be as much of a problem back when I could turn instead to my favorite sitcoms in February. Do you remember when February was "sweeps month"? (Maybe it still is, I don't know). Networks would make sure that every top show aired original episodes that month, no reruns. So you'd always have something to view during the week even when the sports scene was boring. (I know, people have multiple streaming viewing options now. But I find myself going weeks sometimes before I see something I want to view on Netflix or Am