Baseball cards (and football, basketball, and sometimes hockey, when we were desperate) cards were an integral part of my childhood. Amassing whatever money we could find, usually totaling tens of cents, my best friend and I would walk to The Little Store, a tiny, somewhat dingy market near the western shore of Lake Sammammish, Washington. in 1978, we paid 16¢ each for a pack of a dozen cards (4¢ below MSRP) and one stick of Bazooka “Smooooth ‘N’ Juicy” gum—a powdered rectangle of dextrose, corn syrup, and “softeners” that fractured in your mouth until, through force of will and saliva, it amalgamated into chewy, pink lump suitable for emergency dental reconstruction. (While it was never enjoyed, it never went unchewed, either.) We’d shuffle through the cards, looking for the rare ones to complete the 726-card set*, but most often despairing at the sight of another Sid Monge, Biff Pocoroba, or Del Unser. Nothing against Sid, Biff, and Del, but these days a mint Eddie Murray rookie card will get you $12,000 on eBay.
Beau and Bryan Abbot shared our obsession (albeit some years later), but they work through their childhood disappointments as industrious kids do, even if they’re now legal adults: the most puerile vandalism. Here they explain their systematic desecration of the masses of “common” cards alongside examples of their work, which has now been collected in Baseball Card Vandals: Over 200 Decent Jokes on Worthless Cards! As we’d say back in the day (and it was truly our highest praise), this book is indeed decent.
*I got to 725 in 1978. Fred Stanley was the white whale to my 11-year-old Ahab.
Here’s the brutal truth about collecting baseball cards: about 95% of what you buy ends up being kinda worthless. And you know what? That’s okay. Because opening a pack of baseball cards is a lot like buying lottery tickets. It only takes one scratch-off winner (or Ken Griffey, Jr. rookie card) to totally justify all those losing tickets (or “common” cards of mustachioed middle relievers). It’s all about finding the diamond in the rough, and it’s a beautiful thing to pluck a Strawberry from pile of Quisenberrys. But every collector is still left with the same dilemma: what do we do with all those lonely, unwanted “commons” that will never be put in “plastics” or auctioned to the highest bidder on eBay?
As kids growing up in the ‘90s, we lived this dilemma to the fullest. Every cent of our allowance money was spent on packs of Topps, Donruss, Fleer, Score, and Upper Deck. And while our binders and plastics were full of our most prized cards, we were practically swimming in the common cards that covered our bedroom floors, spilled out from closets, and hid underneath couch cushions. So one day too long ago to remember, in the bored hours after school, we started drawing crude jokes on them to entertain one another. Inexcusably, we never stopped.
The result of this unnecessary labor is Baseball Card Vandals, a website/social media thing where we’ve posted a few joke drawings every day for more than six years. These strange pieces of art take on all of life’s great subjects: food, romance, TV, fashion, music, body parts, and bathroom stuff to name a few. Our new book features a collection of over 200 cards, a healthy mix of classics and never-before-seen exclusives. And whether you’re a fan of sports, art, comedy, pop culture, or general smart-assery, we think you’ll find more than a few cards in here worth the price of the pack.
Beau & Bryan Abbott
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