1 of 8The Topps Company, Inc.; Octavian Cantilli for Sports Illustrated
Manny Fernandez, 1976 - Topps
“I have very little recollection of [that photo day] at all. They did one every summer; it was just another photo shoot to me. I think they told me what to do; I didn’t come up with that pose. We were doing two-a-day practices in 100-degree heat and I just wanted to get back in the AC. . . . I get cards every single day in the mail to be autographed. They send me all sorts of different cards, but this one’s in their a lot. Sometimes they send cards that I’m not even on. I got one the other day of [Raiders receiver] Mervyn Fernandez. That was probably a little bit of a mishap.”
2 of 8The Topps Company, Inc.; Kevin Liles for Sports Illustrated
Oscar Gamble, 1976 - Topps
After [that photo]: The Yankees wouldn’t issue me a uniform; they told me I had to get a haircut and meet with Mr. Steinbrenner. I was supposed to do a commercial for Afro Sheen, and I said I wanted to wear the afro through spring training, do the commercial, then I’d cut it. Mr. Steinbrenner said, ‘No, you’re going to cut it right now.’ He’d pay for everything, including the commercial fee. Elston Howard [one of the coaches] took me to get the haircut. I think it was about $87, even though a haircut back then was about $10—it took that long to cut it all."
3 of 8Fleer Corp.; Robert Beck for Sports Illustrated
Jay Johnstone, 1984 - Fleer
“I was with the Cardinals in spring training, 1974. A couple guys got hurt, so I got a chance to play, and I went on one of my rare hitting streaks. Lou Brock said, ‘I really like the way you’re playing—I’m going to get you one of my famous Brockabrella hats.’ Ten years later [after the card] Brock called me and said ‘Thanks!’ because now everybody wanted a Brockabrella. I asked, ‘Do I get a piece of the action?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, I’ll send you a beer.’ That’s good enough for me; Lou was one of the class guys. Plus, Budweiser has been sending me a case of beer every year since."
4 of 8Fleer Corp.; Ann Johansson for Sports Illustrated
Mickey Hatcher, 1986 - Fleer
“A baseball glove company [Mizuno] happened to be there the same afternoon as photo day. When I walked out, there were giant gloves just sitting on a table. I said, 'If I’m going to have a baseball card, I’m going to need all the help I can get,' and I picked the thing up. It worked out well, so I did one with the Dodgers a few seasons later. Fleer took a lot of other pictures, so I didn’t know which one they were going to choose. I was surprised when they [picked that], but it made sense: I couldn’t catch with the small glove; I had a better chance with the big one. And I think everyone knew I was a little goofy. That card reflected me as a player well. . . . I never kept the glove. If I had, I would have made a bed out of it for my newborn kid.”
5 of 8Skybox (c) 1990 NBA Properties, Inc.; Erick W. Rasco for Sports Illustrated
Kurt Rambis, 1990 - Skybox
“I think people related to the intensity and the work ethic you get out of that photo. These days they beg me not to suit up at [Knicks] practices—I might get suspended for a flagrant foul. . . . I’m losing my hair now; I wish I still had that long hair. And the black glasses: I had LASIK surgery several years ago, but when I was playing and the glasses got knocked off, pretty much everything disappeared.”
6 of 8NFL Pro Line Portraits; Chris Keane for Sports Illustrated
Eugene Robinson, 1991 - Pro Line
“This was around when the craze for Zubaz pants started, and Zubaz wanted to get in the trading card game. They wanted to show athletes in their natural environment. So I had my Zubaz pants, my sax—during the shoot I just messed around, maybe played some blues scales—no shoes and, of course the shirt to show off the abs. That was just me trying to get my sexy on. . . . Don’t forget: Zubaz in 1991 was a hot commodity. Now, though, most people don’t think those pants are too cool anymore. When [my students] see the photo they say, Coach Rob, come on. Look at you, this is kind of corny. That or: Look at you, Coach—you actually had hair!"
7 of 8Upper Deck; Robert Beck for Sports Illustrated
Brian Harper, 1993 - Upper Deck
“When we were on the road we had a 5 o’clock stretch and 5:15 BP—but we’d get [on the field] at 4:30 and sit around. A guy came up to me and asked, ‘Would you do a radio interview?’ So he brings me this huge cell phone. There were always a couple of baseball photographers around; I saw one, and I’m thinking, Oh, great. When I saw [the card] I was like, Come on, really? Of all the pictures they could have taken—me hitting a line drive or catching the ball. . . . The kids I coach bring up that card pretty much every year, like I was actually carrying that cellphone around with me on the field. That was the original iPhone right there.”
8 of 8Pinnacle Brands, Inc.; Alexis Cuarezma for Sports Illustrated
Bip Roberts, 1996 - Score
“We had Mexican Heritage Day and people were performing in costumes before the game. I said to one of the dancers, ‘Let me see that sombrero,’ and I started doing the salsa. The Padres knew that was just me—I used to dunk a beach ball over the outfield wall. They’d get mad about that, saying, ‘He’s going to get hurt!’ But the fans loved it. I’m really just humbled that such a little thing as a card could bring me so much joy.”
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