Monday, October 10, 2011

Are You Sure You're a Ballplayer? ('50s Version)

John Kruk once famously said, “I’m not an athlete, lady.  I’m a baseball player.”  Now, you’re not going to see me playing 162, 3-hour games in a year.  That said, there is an awful lot of waiting around in baseball. 

And, if you think about it, not many sports regularly have guys playing – and starring – into their 40s (no, golf doesn’t count!).  And, heck, the sport’s all-time hero had a body mass index of 27.6 (well into the overweight category and halfway to obese). 

So, here they are, some guys who look a lot more like John Kruk, or you or me, than they do real athletes …

Let’s start out with some fresh-faced youngsters, shall we?  Bill here is not only fresh-faced, but definitely kinda weird looking too.  The glasses, the eyebrows, the (total lack of a) chin …  

For me, it’s particularly funny to see this extremely youthful portrait.  My image of Bill Virdon is of the much older player, coach, and manager with my beloved Pirates.  Are you sure this isn’t some other Virdon?  Bob?  Byron?  Biff?


Okay, Dick here does look like he’s old enough to drive.  I just don’t see him on his high school’s ball field though.  In the AV room perhaps.  But the ball field?  Definitely not.

The cartoon on the back of Cole’s rookie card says, “When Dick went for an examination the doctor said it was impossible to play without glasses.  Dick heeded the doctor’s advice – and how!  He now owns 18 pair of glasses.”  Attaboy, Dick!

Dom’s nickname was “the Little Professor.”  For the first part of that, being 5’9” might qualify you.  For the latter, all it took back then was wearing glasses, especially if you were a jock.

Dom was the youngest (and smallest) of the three DiMaggio brothers.  He was an excellent outfielder and speedy runner.  David Halberstam called Dom “probably the most underrated player of his day.”

Here's another unflattering pic of poor Dom.


So, what do you think Bobby was called by his teammates?  “Lurch”?  “The undertaker”?  “Death warmed over”?  “The living corpse”?

"Bob Young" is such a generic name.  Google lists seven different athletes, including boxers, track stars, football players, and soccer players.

Our Bobby was up for eight seasons as a second baseman, four of them as a starter and most of those eight for the Browns/Orioles.

Yup, he really did look like that.  Poor guy.

Honestly, does this guy look like the 1950 NL MVP?   Granted, back then it didn’t take much to impress the voters when it came to relievers.  Jim Konstanty's big year included only 22 saves, though he did win 16 and also set a record for games appeared (a sad little 74 however). 

It was a real flash in the pan though.  Before the MVP year, Konstanty had bounced around with three teams in four years.  The year after, he was 4-11, and only broke double figures in saves again one other year.

I see Eddie working down at the garage and playing beer league softball on Tuesday nights.  How ‘bout you?

Eddie Kasko was a light-hitting infielder for four teams over ten years.  He stayed on with his last team, the Red Sox, though, for stints as minor league manager, scout, executive, and major league manager.  He’s in their hall of fame.

Just looking at Joe depresses me.   

Joe’s nickname was “Professor” (again), but he actually did something to earn that sobriquet other than just wear glasses and look dour.  After college, Ostrowksi put off baseball for three years and taught high school.  After his short professional career was over, he returned to the same school and taught for another 25 years.

I’m guessing he taught something really depressing, like math or accounting or physics.


I saved Art for last.  He looks like a fan, the kind of fan who drives a beer truck or works at the local pizza place.  He seems more likely to be watching the game in front of the TV with a cold one and some chips than on the mound himself.

Art Ceccarelli’s career was pretty undistinguished.  Over five seasons and three teams, he had a 9-18 record and a 5.05 ERA. 


The many moods of Art Ceccarelli …  He looks even more pumped to be out there again this year.  A new team, a new season, a new start.  That’s our Art.

It wasn’t unusual to see the same photo used for different years, especially in the early days of baseball cards.  Usually, though, the guy was on the same team.  I really like how the artist painted in the new logo and moved the frame up a little to make “Orioles” disappear.  I also really like the addition of the clouds.  You’d never even know!  As for Art, it doesn’t look like any of it fazed him one bit.

* - author has this card

And here are some more of the same from the '60s and '70s.


  1. Hey, I think Bobby Young had a 2nd career playing the father on the Dennis the Menace TV show!

  2. That's Herbert Anderson, by the way (no relation to the author)