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Monday, May 11, 2020

The likes of the 1990 Niagara Falls Rapids, including two presidents, George Bush - and Donald Trump

Rarely do baseball card backs offer much of anything, especially minor league cards.

They offer stats, if the player has had any. They also regularly offer hometown info and maybe draft info and maybe height, weight and all that.

But the 1990 Niagara Falls team set, from the manufacturer Pucko, included more. The card backs include information that appeared to be from some questionnaire, asking the players' likes in a variety of areas.

The topics were seemed designed to elicit answers to allow the kids getting the cards the ability to relate to the players. 

The card backs include everything from the players' favorite major leaguer, to the person they'd most like to meet, to their favorite movie, TV show, musical artist and food.

One of the more interesting selections - especially considering the 30 years that have passed since the selection was made - was Kirk Mendenhall's selection for the person he'd most like to meet: Donald Trump.

If allowed for time, Mendenhall's selection is one of two presidents selected by players, both then-current and future. Mario Moccia selected President George Bush as the person he'd most like to meet.

In all, 13 players selected people they most would like to meet. Among the non-sports selections: David Letterman (Steve Wolf); Julia Roberts (Doug Marcero); Roger Moore of James Bond fame (Kevin Keon); Tom Brokaw (Gregg Radachowsky); Elle McPherson (Danny Rogers) and wrestler The Ultimate Warrior (Genaro DeBrand).

Eleven player cards included their favorite movie. No movie was selected twice. "The Natural" (Brian Schubert); "Bull Durham" (Eric Leimeister); and "Field of Dreams" (Rogers) all made the cut. But "RoboCop" (Bob Undorf); "Lethal Weapon" (Radachowsky); "The Hunt for Red October" (Mendenhall) and "Rocky 4" (Tim Kirt) also made the list.

On TV, players mentioned four shows. "The Arsenio Hall Show" received three votes (Eddy Rodriguez, Francisco Alcantara and DeBrand) and "The Simpsons" also received three votes (Brian Nelson, Marcero and Warren Sawkiw). "Cheers" received two votes (Greg Coppetta and Doug Kimbler).

Eight noted their boyhood heroes. Six were sports figures. The other two: Gen. George Patton (Undorf) and the player's father (Arthur Thigpen).

Six kinds of favorite foods were mentioned. Pizza was the overwhelming favorite with five mentions (Wolf, Marcero, Coppeta, Kelly O'Neal and Kimbler). Lobster (Tom Drell), rice and beans (Rodriguez) also got votes, as did the catchall "free food" (Thigpen).

Six musical acts were also mentioned as favorites: Elton John (Coppeta), U2 (Radachowsky), Cool and the Gang (Kimbler) and American Christian metal band Stryper (Drell). Leimeister selected Billy Joel, while Marcero selected the band that perhaps might have the theme song of many minor leaguers, Journey and "Don't Stop Believin'."

Finally, two of the cards also included facts that might also be assumed of the other players on the team, though left unsaid on the other cards. Both Gino Tagliaferri and Denny McNamara wanted to be major leaguers.

In fact, while all of the players in the 1990 Niagara Falls team set likely wanted to be major leaguers, none of them actually made it.

All of the 1990 Niagara Falls Rapids card backs can be seen at the Trading Card Database.


  1. I covered the Rapids the previous year in 1989, the cards that year had basic backs. Mario Mocca, Doug Marcero and Gino Tagliaferri were on the team I covered. Marcero is the only player the whole season that got annoyed at me. I he didn't like the way I described a home run hit off of him in the game story the next day.

  2. These are fun! It's a slice of the pop culture of the time.