30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Saturday Night Five: A 90's Sleezeball

This Monday is a big day for college football fans when Clemson takes on LSU in the Battle of the Tigers.  If I can find the game online, I'll probably put it on in the background.  But I've gotta admit, I'm not a diehard college football fan.  In fact, when I heard these two teams were playing, the first thing I did was head over to Baseball Reference to see what MLB guys played baseball for either of these colleges.  And one of the biggest names I found was Albert Belle.

Now Belle will never win any popularity contests or humanitarian awards.  The guy chased down kids on Halloween in his car, stalked his ex-girlfriend, got busted for indecent exposure and driving under the influence, and never had a positive reputation with reporters.  But there was a time when he was considered one of the most dominant hitters in baseball.

Today, I wanted to show off five of my favorite Albert Belle cards in support of LSU where he attended and played baseball for them from 1985 to 1987.

2014 Topps Tribute Traditions Orange Autograph #TT-AB (#'d 22/40)

1990 Leaf #180

1999 SP Signature Edition Autograph #AB

1996 Flair Diamond Cuts #2

1998 Donruss Signature Series Millenium Marks #NNO

I realize some people are wondering how I could spotlight such a sleezeball on my blog.  It's pretty easy.

I'm able to take a few minutes to draw a line between the good and bad choices athletes have made during their lives.  Professional athletes aren't my role models or heroes.  That's something filled by my parents, siblings, friends, and other important people in my life like certain teachers, fire fighters, police officers, and individuals serving in the armed forces.

Plus the purpose of this post wasn't to have your children or my students choose Mr. Belle to become their role model.  I just wanted to show off some cool Belle cards, because back in the 90's, I would have been excited to pull anything with his name on it.  He's a part of my hobby history and turning a blind eye to that seems kind of silly.

What about you?

What are your thoughts on collecting guys like Albert Belle, Pete Rose, OJ Simpson, and other athletes who have made very poor choices during their lives?

I'm looking forward to reading your responses.  I believe people should collect what they want to collect, so whether or not you'd choose to collect any of these athletes is all good to me.

Happy Saturday and sayonara!


  1. I thought of my answer before I read your last paragraph...and it's exactly the same. Collect what makes you happy. I wouldn't specifically collect guys like Rose, or OJ, but if they are in a set I'm chasing, so be it.

  2. I can tell you when Belle became a member of the Sox, I was not happy. Nor did I like Canseco. If someone wants to collect them - that's there business. But I will take a hard pass.

  3. I can see why an accomplished collector such as yourself would not shy away from players with less than stellar reputations. I've cheered for plenty of guys who have done (or alleged to have done) some awful things. But my collecting budget is limited, and so I wont spend money on cards that evoke negative feelings (this also applies to cards of players with good reputations, but the card itself brings back bad memories) I had to pay 50 cents for a Felipe Vazquez set filler and nearly threw up in my mouth.

    That said, if I ever try to build the 1990 Leaf set I will target a high-grade Belle like the one you have. The autos are really nice, too. I'm kind of surprised he's signed a fair amount of cards.

  4. I had collected Kirby Puckett in the past, but when I discovered what an a**hole he was to his family, it left a bad taste in my mouth and haven't picked up any Puckett cards since.

    Also, I had no idea Belle was on the White Sox!

  5. probably should have pointed out that i don't actually collect belle. actually had a hard time finding a 5th card (the flair insert). the first autograph was in the collection i purchased in september. the 90 leaf rookie i picked up because it was cheap and i enjoy collecting psa 10 graded rookies. i don't remember where the other two autographs came from, but they weren't ebay or comc purchases. my guess is they were cheap card show or flea market finds. and the insert was sitting in one of my binders with one other card of him.

    commishbob - it'd be hard to be a set collector and refuse to collect sleezeballs... since there's a chance there's at least one in every big set out there.

    jedijeff - i hear ya.

    chris - i'm kinda surprised that he signed cards too. i picture him being kind of a jerk who is above the autograph scene. believe it or not... i've cut back a lot the past six months or so. not going to stop buying, but i'm definitely more picky about what i purchase. and... i don't foresee me purchasing any new belle cards. maybe a jersey card if it's in a dollar bin, so i can have a trifecta

    base card hero - i was such a huge fan of puckett. i feel like i'm one of those people who just put on the blinders and try to not focus on what he did outside of the game. because when i do think about it... it makes me sick.

  6. Heck, Belle is a PC guy of mine as is Rose. My header page for the Player Collections clearly states that there are some guys I collect that I can't stand. There are many that I can't stand, but Belle and Rose aren't in that group. I collect them because of my OCD. I wasn't aware of Belle's misdoings. As for Rose, regarding the gambling, I'm good with it as long as he didn't bet against his team. I already knew he was a jerk as he use to screw one of my Aunt's. The only baseball chat I get are currently from blogs, no newspapers, Sports programs, or any other formats. I may have watched a couple Braves games last year, and if the announcers ain't spilling, I ain't hearing it. I couldn't even tell you who the hot prospects are without reading the blogs. I don't follow anything but blogs.

  7. Good question. I think as long as you aren’t putting money in his hands while you are collecting him, I feel like it is fine. I would have a hard time buying anything where he would profit from it.

  8. I collect because it's my preferred form for documenting history...that includes the good and bad.

  9. We don't get the whole story even though we want players to fit our neat narratives in life - I don't mind the jerks [whether a player is one is media driven at times and not reality] or the guys who have made missteps as long as the individual generally performs and puts up numbers; there maybe nothing sadder than when star players careers go off-the-rails because of something they've done [or said] off the field.

  10. I have no issues collecting the "ball player". I don't get wrapped up in their personal lives as they get elevated (be it by themselves or the media hype) to a level that we aren't in. So I definitely don't look at them as role models other than how to play sports. Rose played baseball at 100% to win, game in, game out. I collect him. Belle, not so much. I had started early on in his career but it became obvious baseball was not his passion. I am sure many of the autographs (if not all) were paid for. I still collect Puckett though he was tarnished. After all,don't we all collect Cobb and Ruth? They were no angels.

  11. I ignore their poor choices lol. I will even hold onto the roiders. But, that's not saying I collect them or seek them out. If I can land them in a trade or good deal I will take it.

  12. I had to grapple with this issue a few years back when the Rays placed Josh Lueke on the Bulls roster. If you do not remember him, here is a good run down.


    I go out of my way to collect the Durham Bulls cards, but I decided with Lueke that I would only collect his cards which helped me finish sets. If I find single cards of him at shows, stores, or on Ebay I pass them by. I do the same thing with players like Brandon Martin, Milton Bradley, and Matt Bush. Players who have non-violent crimes, like drugs or money issues, I have much less of an issue with, as they have not physically harmed people.

  13. i am a set collector so I'll ignore what guys have done outside of the game. Focusing on older cards makes the issues less likely. OJ's 1970 card became more of a challenge when he made news for the wrong reason.

  14. johnnys trading spot - i'm not far behind you in regards to sporting news. like you i get my info from blogs, wikipedia, baseball reference, and occasionally espn. wow your aunt and rose hooked up? that sounds like a very interesting blog post

    sumomenkoman - ooops. i just put a bunch of money into barry bonds hands ;)

    billy kingsley - i agree 100% with your response

    laurens - i actually feel bad that athlete's lives are watched so closely. i wouldn't want that even if i had the opportunity to collect their paychecks

    sandyrusty - well stated. next time, i should just cut and paste your comment.

    sport card collectors - for me, i just separate the ball player from the role model. and that includes the stuff involving peds.

    the snorting bull - totally understand the whole "set" thing and each of us has to draw the line somewhere

    runforekelloggs - i totally rememeber when oj's stuff became hot for all of the wrong reasons. i remember him signing autographs for a card company in prison. those were extremely popular