Sunday, March 29, 2020

Pitching Pose Perpetrators

Look through any stack of baseball cards from the '50s, '60s, or '70s and you'll find scores of classic baseball poses. For position players you have the batting stance, the fielding stance, the bunting pose, and the bat on shoulder, to name a few. And for pitchers, there's the "hands over head" wind-up pose.

1978 Topps #400, Nolan Ryan

So classic and time-honored is this pose that throughout the decades you'll find cup-of-coffee pitchers, journeyman pitchers, all-stars, and even Hall-of-Famers putting their stamp on it. 

But something is a little fishy in Pitcherville. And if you look closely at some of the images, you're bound to notice it:

1968 Topps #139, Chris Short

The absence of a baseball in that pitching hand.

At first you might think, Okay, they're just posing for a baseball card, so it's fine

But then you think about it some more:  

They're on a baseball field, for crying out loud! Surely there's a baseball nearby.

So what gives?

Well, first let's note that there were pitchers who at least put forth the effort to hide their pitching hand and make things look authentic.

Sometimes they'd do it by turning the back of their glove to you.

1966 Topps #350, Mel Stottlemyre

Good job there, Mel.

If they really wanted to be careful, they'd pull that glove wayyy behind their head and look innocently away from the camera, like Mike Paul here. 

1970 Topps #582, Mike Paul

And Doyle Alexander was so smart that he simply made sure his wind-up finished out of camera range.

1979 Topps #442, Doyle Alexander

But it's important now to provide a sampling of the miscreantsthe brash guys who simply didn't care about committing pitching pose fraud. This activity was so prevalent that I had no problem finding a representative example from 15 straight years of Topps cards. You can find even more examples on your own.

1965 Topps #174, Joe Jay

Joe Jay, clearly guilty.

1966 Topps #12, John Tsitouris

John Tsitouris almost hid it well enough. But no.

1967 Topps #221, Woody Fryman

An All-Star Rookie should do better than that, Mr. Fryman.

1968 Topps #324, Jim Nash

Jim Nash, that airbrushed baseball cap isn't distracting us from the truth.

1969 Topps #599, John Boozer

John Boozer. I mean. . .

1970 Topps #77, Frank Linzy

Frank Linzy, you've got to try harder.

1971 Topps #631, Eddie Fisher

Eddie Fisher, not good enough.

1972 Topps #84, Vince Colbert

  Come on, Vince.

1973 Topps #411, Ray Corbin

Ray Corbin can't fool us.

1974 Topps #37, Dave Sells

Dave Sells: Inconclusive, but suspicious. 

1975 Topps #428, Dave Hamilton

Dave Hamilton couldn't be much more obvious.

1976 Topps #51, Ray Burris
Ray Burris? Not trying.

1977 Topps #28, Woodie Fryman

Woodie Fryman, this is your second offense (see 1967 card above).
Changing your name from "Woody" to "Woodie" didn't fool anyone.
And this time you have disgraced Les Expos and all of Canada.

1978 Topps #233, Dick Pole

Dick Pole. Guilty.

1979 Topps #437, Rick Williams

On your rookie card, Rick? For shame.

But don't despair. Not all pitchers are such scofflaws. There were a few good eggs out there who, before taking their pose, thought about the impressionable, bubble gum-chewing, card-collecting kids out there, looked around for a teammate, and said, "Hey, toss me a ball, will ya?"

1957 Topps #21, Frank Sullivan

Atta boy, Frank.

1965 Topps #58, Fred Talbot

Well done there, Fred.

1966 Topps #97, Jim Merritt

Jim went with a used baseball for extra realism.

1977 Topps #144, Bruce Sutter

That's the way, rookie.

1978 Topps #596, Gary Wheelock

Lookin' good, Gary.

1980 Topps #243, Jerry Augustine

Jerry Augustine, leading the way into the 1980s.

1982 Fleer #27, Fernando Valenzuela

Fernando's got a baseball in that left hand. And he's smiling because it feels good to do the right thing. 

For all you young pitchers out there who aspire to have your image captured on cardboard one day, do the right thing, too.

(Thanks to the internet for providing me with many of these images)


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks friend! Going to check out your blog.

  2. Great post! You have a keen eye for detail!

    1. Thanks Brett! (Likely a product of being an editor for so many years.)

  3. I've long noticed this, didn't know there were so many. Almost as bad as the outfielder pretending to make a catch at the wall with no ball.

    1. What? You mean those catches against a wall were staged, too? No!!!

  4. Great post! And kudos to those pitchers who were clutching their balls.

    1. This is a family blog, Fuji ;-)

    2. I'm a middle school teacher... who I guess has hung around with middle school students way too long ;D

  5. Fantastic post! I agree with Brett, you've got quite an eye!

    1. Thanks Shoebox! It's funny how many "variations" of the pose there are.

  6. Like N.O., I knew about these but didn't realize there were so many of them. I'm reminded of the '69 Topps Tommy John, which is kinda the inverse of these -- he's shown in a follow-through pose...with a baseball clearly still in his glove.

    1. Hah! I've never seen that card. That's really something. Thanks for sharing the info, Nick.

  7. Much better than the fake follow through though!

    1. Hah. Probably just as many examples of that one, too, don't you think?

  8. Wow, that was really rampant.

    I do love the look on Fernando's face on his 82 Fleer card!

    1. He probably knows he's going to strike a few guys out with that baseball.

  9. Well done! This post will certainly make me look harder at which pitchers are actually holding a baseball!

    1. Thanks Chris! It surprised me to find so many examples while I was looking through sets.