I use baseball cards for many reasons, one of which is pure solace.
The hobby works wonders for maintaining a calm day, or returning balance to a hectic one. So it shocks me, then, when a select piece of cardboard like this one comes along and scares the ever-living bejesus out of me.
I met up with Tony of "Wrigley Roster Jenga" fame at a card show late last year, and this night terror was amongst the otherwise brilliant stack of goodies he gifted me. This demented (and hopefully defunct) minor-league mascot is the type of thing that winds up in my nightmares wielding a bloody butcher's knife.
But it's far from the first card in my collection to send chills down my spine.
In fact, it got me thinking about other nightmarish cards I own, and while most of what you'll find in my binders is nothing more than innocent joy, a few never fail to freak me out.
Like this one, in which some sick artist under the employ of Mother's Cookies managed to transform Rusty Staub into something from a sinister episode of Barney.
My mom usually keeps a safe distance from my cards, and I'm convinced this is one of the reasons why.
Long ago, she dubbed Brooks here as the Burn Victim Card -- a name which has stuck over the years -- and she still shudders at even the thought of it (can you blame her?).
And then there's this one, which wouldn't be so scary if it didn't depict Rube Foster's face...and absolutely nothing else.
Instead, there's Foster's decapitated head staring straight into your soul atop an eerie Halloweenish orange, which good luck pushing that out of your brain.
Thankfully, the other cards Tony gave me weren't so scary.
These two filled some gaps in my 2017 want lists, though the Mattingly made me realize that I still somehow didn't own his original '87 Topps issue.
Tobacco-era reprints are always welcome here.
One can never have too many Bartolo Colon cards (especially considering he's the last active Expo).
And finally, here's a stellar shot from 2001 Stadium Club, which now that I think of it, is probably the least-represented year of Stadium Club in my collection (seriously, it's darn near impossible to find anything from this set these days).
See? Most baseball cards are just plain comforting.
But not all of them.