I'll go out on a limb and say that Panini's Bad News Bears Golden Age series was one of the best ideas in cardboard history.
I know from my dad that the movie was an important part of a lot of childhoods in the '70s, so I'm sure Panini made a few bucks from all of today's grown-up collectors seeking nostalgia.
I also have a sneaking suspicion that it was also at least partially behind the big Major League series from this year's Topps Archives release.
As was to be expected, however, even Panini's grand Bad News Bears idea had a few gaps. Knowing that, I decided to try something new in my spare time this afternoon. I dipped my toe into the wide world of customs.
Now, please keep in mind that I'm about the least artistic person on the face of the earth. I made all of the "cards" you'll see in this post with the help of an outdated designer I found on the Topps website, and I don't think they're very pleasing, aesthetically-speaking.
I'm in constant shock and awe of people who can make customs look as good as they do. Some people build entire blogs around them, which probably takes more time and effort than I can ever imagine.
That said, here's my first foray into the world of customs.
Bad News Bears
"Famous Quotes" #FQ-1 Tanner Boyle
Come on, Panini.
How was there no Tanner in your Golden Age series?
The kid has some of the best lines in the movie.
"Off the Field" #OF-1 Ogilvie
No Ogilvie, either.
I hadn't planned to put Ogilvie in my custom checklist, but this picture was too captivating not to use on a baseball card. It's actually from the second Bad News Bears flick, Breaking Training. Pales in comparison to the first, but not a bad movie at all if you take it on its own.
I guess that last-inning walk in the first movie earned Ogilvie some street cred.
"Words of Wisdom" #WW-1 Morris Buttermaker
The biggest problem I had with Panini's checklist was the glaring omission of Buttermaker.
Maybe it's because they couldn't find a photo of him without an alcoholic beverage of some sort.
It didn't take long for me to realize how addicting customs can be when you have a little time on your hands.
I racked my brain for a few other cardboard fantasies from the silver screen.
Little Big League
#LBL-1 Billy Heywood
I'm a kid of the '90s.
Movies like Little Big League may not mean much to fans with a few years on me (or younger ones, for that matter), but I grew up with these kind of kid-centric, feel-good flicks.
I was a little young to see most of them in the theater, but I picked them up as I went along. Little Big League was one of the first.
For anyone who hasn't seen it, it's about a kid named Billy Heywood who inherits the lackluster Minnesota Twins from his grandfather, hires himself as the manager, and leads them to glory.
But that's what movies are for, right?
#LBL-1b Billy Heywood SP
On the outside chance this set ever becomes a reality, you know Topps is going to short-print the heck out of it.
I'm way ahead of them. This kind of candid shot has the gimmicky feel of most SPs these days. You've got superstar Twins first baseman Lou Collins (actually actor Timothy Busfield) and All-Star Mariners outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. (really Griffey) in this photo.
"The Kid" is limited to short cameo in the movie, but anyone who's seen it knows he ends up playing a vital role in the outcome of the Twins.
#LBL-2 Billy Heywood IA
I'm channeling a little vintage Topps with this "In-Action" subset.
Rookie of the Year
#ROY-1 Henry Rowengartner
Making these customs inspired me to go back and re-watch Rookie of the Year this afternoon.
It's very similar to Little Big League, in that a grown-up role is suddenly forced upon a little kid.
Only this time, young Henry Rowengartner (or "Rosinbagger", "Gardenhoser", and dozens of other manager mispronunciations thereof) ends up pitching for the Cubs after a freak injury turns his arm into a rocket.
Even at 22, Rookie of the Year still ranks among my favorite flicks ever. Again, I doubt many would consider it a great movie, but I do.
As a kid of the '90s, I don't really have a choice.
#ROY-1b Henry Rowengartner SP
The beginning of one of the best scenes in the movie gets the short-print treatment here.
This scene is supposed to be set in Dodger Stadium, but I'm pretty sure that's actually (then) Comiskey Park in the backdrop.
"In the Booth" #IN-1 Ernie and Cliff
Neither Ernie nor Cliff receive a great amount of screen time, but I'll be darned if they don't have some of the best lines of the movie.
John Candy isn't even credited.
"Memorable Moments" #MM-1 Funky Buttlovin'
A line I've referenced many times in my life, as per reader request.
"Famous Farewells" #FF-1 Chet Steadman
Chet Steadman (actually Gary Busey) turns into a mentor (and more) for young Henry during the movie.
This will go down in history as his "sunset" card.
#ROY-2 Phil "Brigma" Brickman
Daniel Stern directed Rookie of the Year and gave himself one of the funniest bit parts in any movie I've ever seen.
He plays hilariously awful pitching coach Phil "Brigma" Brickman.
Between getting hit on the head with baseballs, advising Henry to heat up ice cubes...
#ROY-3 Phil "Brigma" Brickman "Little Help Now" SH
...and getting stuck between doors, his scenes are downright hilarious.
I'm reminded of how much I love this movie every time I watch it.
"Timeless Teams" #TT-1 The Sandlot
The Sandlot isn't just my favorite baseball movie.
It's my favorite movie ever. Has been since I was about five years old. I've seen it at least twenty or thirty times, and I highly doubt anything will ever take it off the top spot of my list.
To me, it sums up everything that is right and good about the National Pastime in 90 minutes.
"Fired Up" #FU-1 Hamilton "The Babe" Porter
Here's a play on an insert set from this year's Opening Day.
"Glove Stores" #GS-1 Scott "You're Killing Me" Smalls
Another satirical take on a current insert series, this time from Gypsy Queen.
Over the wall snags and diving grabs are fine and good, but it's a miracle that Smalls even caught that ball in the first place. I can hear his words in my head to this day.
Please catch it.
Please catch it.
"Then & Now" #TN-1 Benny "The Jet" Rodriguez
I get a little choked up every time I watch the last scene of The Sandlot.
I'll admit it.
"Dynamic Duos" #DD-1 Wendy Peffercorn/Squints
Any kid my age who tells you they never had a crush on Wendy Peffercorn has either a) not seen The Sandlot and therefore never had a full childhood or b) is lying.
This was probably my personal favorite of the customs I made.
The most unlikely of combos.
Do I honestly ever think Topps would create a set commemorating Rookie of the Year or Little Big League? No. Hence, me having to make these customs at all.
If you ask me, though, I think it'd be a great way to rope a few more people my age into the hobby. The Sandlot is basically the Bad News Bears of my generation.