Categorizing Cards Can Cause Naughty Numbering

Who’d ever thought that categorizing baseball cards could culminate in some clever word & number play?

Ken Griffey Jr. 1989 Upper Deck Card

Darren Rovell of SLATE unseals the story of Tom Geiderman, an employee of Upper Deck who was in charge of assigning numbers to selected cards. It was he who convinced the upper brass to name Ken Griffey Jr. #1 in their 1989 packs - a card that still sells well today among collectors.

Geideman took the task of naming the player for the first card very seriously. Using an issue of Baseball America as his guide, Geideman knew that card No. 1 would belong to Gregg Jefferies, Sandy Alomar Jr., Gary Sheffield, or a long-shot candidate, the phenom they called “The Kid.”

But putting digits to faces can become a monotonous task, so it was inevitable that the college-educated Geiderman would apply his smarts to having fun with some of the names & numbers:

It’s probably the most thinking Geideman ever did compiling a checklist, save for the 1992 Upper Deck set when he assigned numbers that ended in 69 to players with porn-star-sounding names. (Dick Schofield at No. 269, Heathcliff Slocumb at No. 569, and Dickie Thon at No. 769.)

Sounds like a hard job, but Geiderman had the cajones to pull it off.

We’re not sure if Geiderman had any input into Upper Deck’s new Hair Cut Signatures, which feature follicles of famous folks like Babe Ruth and George Washington. If Tom did, we now have to wonder where the historic hairs came from - up on the scalp, or down in the nether regions.