A Baseball Card Mystery

| by Hardball Times

Most of our baseball card mysteries deal with questions of “who” and “when.” As diehard fans, we want to know the names of all the players shown on the card. We also want to know when the card’s picture was taken—and where.

This one is different. I know that this indeed is Glenn Hubbard, coming off his only All-Star Game berth, appearing on his 1984 Fleer card. The sure-handed second baseman is wearing the powder blue road uniform that the Braves famously used throughout much of the 1980s. I know that the photograph was taken at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, on a day when the “Phillie Phanatic,” a Barney Rubble mascot, and a host of balloons could be found on the field prior to the game. (That was some kind of pre-game promotion the Phillies staged that day.)

So here’s the relevant question. Why? I’ve tried to research the back story to this card, but have come up empty in my searches. Why is Hubbard holding a snake, which has been draped over his shoulders? Why is he holding such a large snake, one that appears capable of strangling him? And taken a step further, is Hubbard out of his mind?

I’d also be curious as to what kind of snake it is that Hubbard is holding. I confess to knowing almost nothing about snakes, other than the fact that I don’t like them, and certain members of my family are absolutely terrified by them. I would assume that the snake in question is not poisonous, but it is no less frightening to me and small children.

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For what it’s worth, the Phillie Phanatic looks particularly alarmed by the presence of the snake on Hubbard’s shoulders. In contrast, Hubbard looks completely unconcerned. He’s content, almost proud of his serpentine friend.

The question is, “Why?” Why a snake?


Bruce Markusen is the author of seven books on baseball, including the award-winning A Baseball Dynasty: Charlie Finley’s Swingin’ A’s, the recipient of the Seymour Medal from the Society for American Baseball Research. He has also written The Team That Changed Baseball: Roberto Clemente and the 1971 Pittsburgh Pirates, Tales From The Mets Dugout, and The Orlando Cepeda Story.