The strange, yet true story of how Gary Pettis' brother wound up on his 1985 Topps baseball card
In honor of National Baseball Card Day, we've gone all out. We talked to some of the best in the business to choose their favorite card from each year, ranked the 10 best all-time and now want to illuminate the stories behind some of the stranger cards.
The 1985 season was a big one for former Angels outfielder and current Astros third-base coach Gary Pettis. He was coming off his first season as the starting center fielder for the then-California Angels and would go on to win his first of five Gold Gloves. But for fans who opened up a pack of Topps cards that year, they saw a very young looking player staring back at them, hand under chin.
The reason for that: It wasn't Pettis at all. At least, not Gary Pettis.
"When I was playing with the Angels, one of the other players on my team had a son. My brother would come out to the ballpark on Sundays, and they'd dress up in uniforms [together] and they'd go out on the field and shag fly balls and run around," Pettis told MLB.com's Brian McTaggart recently.
"I guess this happened to be one Sunday where they were taking the pictures for the Topps baseball cards. I had no idea that was going on that day. [My brother] was out on the field and at the time, and he was as big as I was at 14 years old. I guess he was around the dugout and sitting around and the guy walked up and said, 'Hey, let me take your picture.'"
Did Pettis' brother point the photographer in the right direction? Not exactly.
"He posed for the picture. I'm sure he had no idea it was going to end up on a baseball card. And then I think sometime during that offseason, a friend of mine said, 'Hey, you look really young on your baseball card.' I didn't think anything of it. … Lo and behold, when I finally saw the baseball card later that year I couldn't help but laugh and go, 'Yeah, I do look pretty young because it's not me. It's my brother.'"
"He had a good time with it," Gary said. "He was actually in USA Today, they had a picture of the card and the whole story behind it. It was pretty cool. A good story for him."
u5:pJust don't try to get Pettis to sign it.
"A lot of people try to get me to sign it, but I know where it's going to end up. They're going to try to sell it. I don't ever bother with that one."u5:p