i thought it was weird when i first saw a photo on the back of a baseball card. i was used to stats and text, with the occasional cartoon or game (like 1978 topps). so, some of the early kellogg's releases and 1983 fleer with their small player portraits did nothing for me. even 1988 score, with their color portraits on the back, was wasting space as far as i was concerned. then came upper deck.
they sacrificed stats to give us bigger photos on the back, and a lot of times, the photos on the back were more interesting than the ones on the front. i recently went through a 1991 upper deck set and pulled a few cards. i found a trio of reds' cards that tell a story. here's the back of tom browning's card
he's obviously giving the ball up to manager lou piniella at dodger stadium. that's alfredo griffin lurking in the background. the guy standing to browning's left is barry larkin. i know this because this is the back of larkin's 1991 upper deck card
put them together, and you get somewhat of a panoramic shot, although they are two different photos taken at slightly different moments.
and, if you look at piniella's foot, you can see the top of the catcher's cleat and the bottom of his shinguard. that's joe oliver, because i know that those two photos came from the june 3, 1990 game between the reds and dodgers, and oliver was the catcher. the reds were leading 2-0 in the bottom of the 8th when mike scioscia chased browning with a double that moved griffin to third with no one out. randy myers came in and shut the dodgers down, getting the final 6 outs.
he shows up on the back of oliver's 1991 upper deck card, getting the postgame handshake.
we are back in dodger stadium on the back of jim presley's 1991 upper deck card,
with half of joe amalfitano's rear and a dodger whom i believe to be kal daniels thrown out trying to steal third on july 29, 1990.
the back of andre dawson's 1991 upper deck card shows what i believe to be a double play turnaugust 1, 1990 in which dawson was forced at second on a 4-6 play based on the fact that jay bell was the shortstop that day, and bell wore pony cleats. dwight clark was safe at first, but i will assume that bell tried to complete the dp.
i am not convinced that the back of junior felix's 1991 upper deck card shows a double play, however.
looks more like a steal to me.
sometimes, the backs tell a different story, like the back of this 2002 donruss originals adrian beltre card
it's a sample! most likely from a beckett mag if i recall correctly. good thing i looked at the back - otherwise i would have put it with my doubles. here's the front, by the way.
there's one more 1991 upper deck card back i want to show, and it is this one
so, the message here is: don't forget to look at the card backs!