The On Deck Circle

Baseball History, Commentary and Analysis

What Not to Say On the Back of Your Baseball Card

I’ve been going through a random stack of baseball cards for about the past hour or so, and I came across an entry on the back of a card for Cubs pitcher, James Russell.  It is a 2011 Topps Update card, US90.  I found it to be a remarkable admission for a player to have on the back of his baseball card.  It’s as if Russell was talking randomly to a teammate, and a representative from Topps just happened to be lounging around Russell’s locker, waiting for him to say something worth writing down.

Topp 20 2013 Rådhusplassen

Fans of James Russell admiring his delivery.

Here it is in its entirety:

James is the son of Jeff Russell, the 1989 AL saves leader.  Their styles, however, differ.  “He had that little extra [velocity] he could reach back for,” says the rookie.  “I really don’t have that.”

Hmm.  So what exactly is it you really do have, James?

Oh, uh, and James, it may be time for you to update your resume.

In fairness to young Mr. Russell, he is having a very decent season this year as a relief pitcher for the Cubs.  In 28 innings, he has a 2.22 ERA, and 26 strikeouts against just eight walks.  I’m sure his dad is quite proud of him, even without that little extra bit of oomph in his delivery.

Let’s just not ask James to write any of us a letter of recommendation.


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12 thoughts on “What Not to Say On the Back of Your Baseball Card

  1. Rafael on said:

    Bouton also noted that the back of infielder John Kennedy’s card stated that he was a backup player on his high school team.

  2. I’m guessing that, around 2006 or so, Barry Bonds’ card should have read “At the assistance of Mr. Bonds’ attorneys, the back of this card shall remain blank.”

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  4. the 2013 update set.. russell admits he was tricking marmol into believing daddy russell legends about the extra velocity he himself could never reach and marmol bit the bate and suffered over confidence and unconditional release.

  5. Mike Cornelius on said:

    That is too funny.

  6. Ha! Kind of reminds me of Jim Bouton. In either “Ball Four” or “I’m Glad You Didn’t Take It Personally”, Jim wrote that, instead of the usual “Johnny enjoys hunting” or “Bob enjoys fishing”, he had put on the back of the Topps card “Jim enjoys stringing beads” or something to extent.

    Here’s to the non-conformists of the world!


    Jim Bouton is one of my heroes.


    • I always liked Bouton, too. “Ball Four” was one of the first baseball books I ever read, back when I was around 13-years old. Definitely made an impression. Also, reminds of Bill Lee talking about how he needed to throw a four-seam fastball in a specific situation, which he then admitted he never had in his arsenal.
      Good stuff,

  7. I agree that’s not what you’d want on your card, but I think it’s more an indictment against the person who selected the quote than the player. I’m sure he said a great many things. Moreover, like any short quotation, it is by necessity taken out of context. He might well have followed up the quoted statement with something like, “And that’s why I’ve spent so much time working on pitch location, and developing a wide repertoire of pitches.”

    • Hi Smak, No doubt about that. The Topps rep who decided to use that bit of quote certainly didn’t do James Russell any favors. I’m guessing he saw it as a nice way for a son to pay homage to his dad. Came off sounding a bit odd, though.
      Cheers, dude,

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