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.
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.
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.
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.