The year was 1993. Jurassic Park had just come out, forever making Disneyworld less than perfect, Drew Bledsoe was the #1 pick in the NFL draft, and Bobby Brown was arrested in Georgia for a sex act on stage.
Oh yeah, and Western Civilization would be upended when Milk Bone released a series of baseball cards featuring out of uniform players posing with their dogs. This was new, this was different, and nothing would ever be the same. Said Bill Clinton about the event (probably): “Whoa. This flippin’ rules. I love dogs and baseball.”
Here for you now are the best of these wonderfully unlicensed by Major League Baseball but heartily endorsed by the Players Association trading cards:
Molitor’s dog’s name is Boomer. Sadly, not for Boomer Esiason, though they both have the same facial bone structure.
Tom Glavine was creative with his pitch sequencing, leaving him with limited energy for naming things. Hence, his dog Golden and his children He, She, and Second She, Double He, and Third Girl.
Also of note, Steve Avery and Tom Glavine both bought golden retrievers at the same time. Oh, to be a pitcher for Atlanta in the early 90s.
Notice, both Ripken and Champagne have that same look of determination, of steely grit and fiery passion, in their eyes. For Ripken, it was to play in 2,632 straight games, for Champagne, an Akita that was gifted to Ripken’s wife, it was for the bag of Beggin’ Bits the photographer had hidden in his camera bag.
Some say that dogs and their owners will one day begin to look alike. In the case of Will Clark and his black lab, Psycho, we could only be so lucky. Look at the two of them, lean, muscular, with a thick and luscious coat of dark hair. That’s an impressive duo.
Sadly, as much as he tried, Joe Girardi never could convince his Bichon Frise, Nikko, to help him pick up some extra scratch as a pool hustler. It’s his greatest regret.
"These are my dogs, Kino and Roscoe. And this is my three color warmup jacket. We’re a team."
Not only has Caminiti put on his best shirt, picking out one whose greens and violets complement Bailey’s earthy tones, but look at the red bow, saucily tucked behind her right ear. It’s not surprising either, as Caminiti:
"…also owned show dogs. Not pit bulls or Great Danes, but fluffy little things, with fur over their eyes, petit bassets griffons vendeens. Two, Charmaine and Yoyo, won ribbons at the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club show in New York."
This nearly excuses Caminiti for the rest of his career.
While it’s not strange that Swift’s dog, Zach, enjoyed sleeping on the stairs, it is strange that Swift also slept there.
Tom Foley was once traded for Skeeter Barnes and Dan Schatzeder. It is perhaps the first time that a player’s dog has a less dog-like name than those involved in a transaction.
Matt Young and his dog Cy are actually good fits for each other. Cy was one of only three dogs to survive a kennel fire while Young put together a ten year career despite losing more than 15 games in a season three times (15 in ‘83, 19 in ‘85, and 18 in ‘90). Shockingly, in two of those years he had above average ERAs.
From the back of the card:
“Tiffany, nicknamed Killer, once chased away a burglar. She loves socializing, shopping, and french fries.”
Yeah, who doesn’t? Get over yourself, Tiff.
I once went to a dog obedience class where the teacher kept instructing us to yell “Shame!” whenever our dog did something wrong. I thought was a strange and cruel thing to do, introducing the concept of shame to our pets.
This is my long way of saying, Larry, shame for ever shaving off the handlbar.
In case you were wondering what the 90s were like, this photo is it: nylon pants, high tops, and Big Dog tee-shirts. Brady Anderson, a lonely nation turns its eyes to you.
I would like to remind you that Wally Joyner was a professional athlete in this photo and not your 54 year-old father sending you an email that read: “Mom, me and ‘the kids’ in Vermont. Miss you!”
The back of the card notes that Sam, one of McGwire’s two Siberian huskies, had to go to jail for running away. This means that there is such a thing as doggie jail. And that is terrifying.
While some think it was steroids that will keep Palmeiro out of the Hall of Fame, it is actually the white jeans and Cosby sweater combination from this photo that are the culprits.
There are many things I’d like to note here. Like Rob Dibble’s sweater. Or that he is the only player in this set to wear his hat like a normal human being. Or the fact that his dog, Taylor, has a 200 word vocabulary. Why doesn’t Taylor get a radio show?
I know ballplayers aren’t known for their fashion choices, but who dressed Butler for this shoot?
"Brett, you’re young. Hot. In vogue. You just stole 41 bases. Can we get you in pleated khakis and a golf sweater that literally says golf on it?"
I have another Ben McDonald card somewhere in my collection where its revealed that he can hold seven baseballs in one hand. What I’m saying is Ben McDonald has a lot of weird baseball cards.
While Biggio smiles for the camera, Shelbee clearly has just noticed a ghost just to the left of the camera. How else can you describe his inability to stare straight for the camera?
A few thoughts now that we’re done with these:
- Is this really what the 90s looked like? People wandering around in light wash jeans, puffy hats, and white tee-shirts?
- And if it wasn’t, who was the photographer for this set saying, “Yes. This is your finest outfit”?
- Dogs, on the other hand, are cute no matter what the era is.
- Why did Milk Bone not do a follow up set? Was this not the smash hit they were expecting?
Topps, if you’re reading this, feel free to take this idea and run with it.
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