"I want it to look like a comebacker hit me in the nuts," I said.
August 23, 2019 10:51 AM   Subscribe

Keith Comstock played on four major league clubs as a journeyman reliever, but his professional career is most often remembered for one thing: a ball to the crotch. Thirty years ago -- in what otherwise would have been a forgotten minor league set -- Comstock appeared on one of the most memorable baseball cards ever made. Here's the story of how it came together, in his words. 'You're the guy with the ball to the crotch': The inside story behind the funniest baseball card ever made (ESPN)

Comstock recounts:
I was drafted in 1976, and it took me eight years to reach the majors. I was traded or released so many times, it was hard to keep count. In 1983, the Oakland A's sold me to the Detroit Tigers for $100 and a bag of balls. I had to deliver the balls. For much of my career, I'd get moved to another team and my wife would pack up the Chevy Vega with our kids and they'd follow me. One time, it took my wife three days to reach my next assignment. On the day she arrived, I found out I'd been demoted.

By the late 1980s, I'd been up and down a few times -- with Minnesota, San Francisco and San Diego. I never had a major league baseball card of myself, until 1988. That's when the Topps card company produced my first real card, like the ones I collected when I was a boy. I'm throwing a pitch in the photo. I was so happy when I saw the card, really humbled. When I got that first card, I didn't keep it. I sent it to my mom. It was like validation for everything that I'd gone through, like here was proof I was a major leaguer. The cool part of that 1988 card is it became a sought-after error card within the Topps set (Radicards). There was something wrong with the coloring of the "Padres," so I got a little notoriety for that. I couldn't wait to show up in another set.
Unfortunately, his next cards were of him in the minors. "And, honestly, another minor league card was a reminder of how my career was going." Until The Card.
posted by filthy light thief (21 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
I swear, I didn't intend to make a second post about dude's crotches, I found this from mltshp.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:08 AM on August 23 [4 favorites]


It appears MeFi has some... things on its mind.
posted by brundlefly at 11:10 AM on August 23 [2 favorites]


I had to deliver the balls

And you did, Keith. And you did.
posted by chavenet at 11:11 AM on August 23 [7 favorites]


I went to the clubhouse, told the guys my idea about the ball and said they shouldn't sign their contracts unless I got this picture taken. They didn't hesitate.
Unexpectedly wholesome.
posted by Monochrome at 11:19 AM on August 23


Harmless fun. And why should anyone be against harmless fun? Still, it's a struggle.
posted by Capt. Renault at 11:26 AM on August 23 [1 favorite]


> I swear, I didn't intend to make a second post about dude's crotches, I found this from mltshp.

Jessamyn just sent me this via mltshp as well. I am looking forward to reading this, but I rushed here to check that it wasn't already posted. The one eternal truth in the movie Idiocracy: "Ow My Balls" is a timeless classic, a staple of humor that delights all races and creeds, across all economic and geographical boundaries, bringing us all together in humanity. Over 400 MeFites agree.
posted by not_on_display at 11:32 AM on August 23 [1 favorite]


super glue is the coward's way to this photo
posted by entropone at 12:11 PM on August 23 [6 favorites]


He had his hat backward, like you might expect from a photographer.
Is this.... is this a stereotype I have been unaware of?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:24 PM on August 23


"Thirty years later and there's Grandpa, getting hit in the nuts."

Grandpa jokes are the new Dad jokes.
posted by Bill Watches Movies Podcast at 2:08 PM on August 23


He had his hat backward, like you might expect from a photographer.

ricochet biscuit: Is this.... is this a stereotype I have been unaware of?

It's hard to look through a viewfinder with a baseball cap facing forward, particularly for larger cameras. The modern era of a screen that shows you the image in vivid color is a modern thing, though I think many photographers still take photos through the viewfinder, then review the image on the screen.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:39 PM on August 23 [1 favorite]


I don't really care too much about professional baseball or collecting cards, but this is a great story. I bet he really made some kids' days when they saw that picture.
posted by subocoyne at 3:31 PM on August 23 [1 favorite]


Great story. I like this guy.
posted by Don.Kinsayder at 4:06 PM on August 23


That was fun. Thanks for sharing!
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 4:21 PM on August 23


The cool part of that 1988 card is it became a sought-after error card within the Topps set. There was something wrong with the coloring of the "Padres," so I got a little notoriety for that. I couldn't wait to show up in another set.

Ah, the Keith Comstock white (or yellow) logo Topps errror. Never really knew anything about him other than that one card. Great story.
posted by LostInUbe at 5:06 PM on August 23


For variety, here's Gus Zernial with five balls and a pink shirt! (original pic)
posted by Jubal Kessler at 5:12 PM on August 23 [4 favorites]


This was a delight.
posted by jenfullmoon at 12:56 AM on August 24


The best is his wife's reaction. I've seen that face before.
posted by hypnogogue at 7:41 AM on August 24 [1 favorite]


Behold, the power of collective bargaining.
posted by MysticMCJ at 11:39 AM on August 24 [4 favorites]


This is so great, from beginning to end. Thanks for posting it.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:23 AM on August 25


Got here late and enjoyed it greatly.
posted by cortex at 7:51 AM on August 30


I started collecting baseball cards in the late '80s and stopped after a few years. My 1988 Topps cards should still be around somewhere -- no idea where, but I know I didn't throw them out. Next time I find them, I'll have to remember to check for Keith Comstock's!
posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 1:22 AM on September 3


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