Saturday, May 31, 2008

Card of the Week: Turk Wendell

In celebration of Baseballs contribution to superstition and eccentricities I bring you this weeks "Card of the Week" in the form of Turk Wendell's rookie card from the 1992 Upper Deck Baseball set. I remember way-back-when opening up packs of these cards and pulling this gem with some curiosity. What is this guy doing? Did he forget to brush his teeth that morning and decide to catch up by taking some time during the game to remedy his hygiene faux pas? Maybe the stadiums plumbing is out of whack and this is the only sink available? Nope. It's something that only Baseball can foster with incredible regularity. This is an act of superstition. Turk would often brush his teeth between innings in games he pitched and Upper Deck photographers were able to capture the craziness to my delight.
If you think that's weird get a hold of his other habits. He would chew black licorice instead of tobacco. The umpire would have to roll the ball to him otherwise he would let a thrown ball land on the field or bounce off his chest. At the beginning of each inning he would go to the mound and wave at the centerfielder and wait for him to wave back before proceeding. When the catcher stood, Wendell would crouch. He would draw crosses on the mound and high jump the baseline. His necklace was made of animal teeth from creatures he hunted and killed. My favorite thing, though, is that he wore number 99 in honor Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn from Major League and once negotiated a contract for $9,999,999.99.

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