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Great Moments in Random Cool Stuff Sent to Me

Jan 4, 2010, 6:00 PM EDT

Mossi.jpgNormally if you get an unsolicited package in the mail from a group called “The National Ethnic Heritage Foundation in partnership with the Order of Sons of Italy in America,” you’re going to want someone else to open it. I got such a package today, but figuring that I have neither told anyone what I was thinking nor gone against the family recently, I figured I was pretty safe.  And I’m glad I opened the package. 

Inside: a baseball card set called “Italian American Baseball Heroes.”  Rather than photos, the cards have oil portraits.  More than just the obvious subjects — DiMaggio, Berra, Rizzuto — the cover just about every paisan who hurled or hit the horsehide.  Don Mossi, as you can see to the right, was in there. So was Joe Pepitone. And Kevin Tapani and Bart Giamatti and Leo Mazzone and a bunch of other dudes. I’ve never seen a Leo Mazzone card. Guess he didn’t stop rocking long enough for anyone to take his picture. There are 100 cards in the set.  For every DiMaggio there’s like, five Tom Pagnozzi-level guys, including Pagnozzi.  The randomness of seeing middlin-at-best players given the same reverent treatment as DiMaggio and Berra is what I love the most about the set. You can see all of them here.

I’m assuming they were sent to me so that I’d promote them.  And normally I wouldn’t. I don’t do payola. This is a professional outfit here, and if you want to get advertising, you have to pay Mr. and Mrs. NBC to do it.  These cards, however are (a) kind of adorably ridiculous, so I want more people to know about them in the same way Joe Posnanski wants people to know about Snuggies; and (b) they aren’t being sold commercially. As best I can gather, you can get them here or here in exchange for a donation of some type.

And you can do that if you want to or not. I don’t care, and I don’t endorse. I just want people to know that someone spent some quality time doing an oil painting of Don Mossi that going forward, will be prominently displayed on my desk.

  1. pepe - Jan 4, 2010 at 6:07 PM

    People just don’t look like Don Mossi anymore. That portrait actually does him quite a bit of justice.

  2. rje49 - Jan 4, 2010 at 6:18 PM

    That Don Mossi card looks very similar to (I think)his 1959 Topps card. As kids, we used had plenty of laughs about the card. In later years, I heard it said that Mossi “looked like a taxi cab with it’s doors open”. Ouch! Several years ago, I picked up some Mossi cards at a BB card show and sent one to my best childhood friend for Christmas.

  3. Chris Simonds - Jan 4, 2010 at 6:35 PM

    Smoltz is an Italian name? Wow. Must be very northern Italian. Like almost the Swiss Alps Italian. Fascinating.

  4. Gold Star for Robot Boy - Jan 4, 2010 at 6:43 PM

    Mike Piazza’s card is… wow.
    That’s not a forehead nor even a five-head. That, my paisanos, goes up to six.

  5. salvo - Jan 4, 2010 at 7:00 PM

    The Sal Maglie looks like something out of a noir movie. Just awesome.
    And I recognize about 30 Topps card poses, at least…

  6. Jick - Jan 4, 2010 at 7:11 PM

    I had a Leo Mazzone card, a late ’80s Donruss if I remember correctly. (Maybe Fleer? Why either would be doing cards for then-minor league coaches I have no idea.) One of my favorite cards as a kid in Atlanta in the early ’90s.

  7. Jeff - Jan 4, 2010 at 7:21 PM

    What is Carl Pavano Sicilian or something?

  8. 2cents - Jan 4, 2010 at 7:51 PM

    I still have my Don Mossi signature, seven finger ball glove I got new, made by Nakona in…dunno…’61 or so. I keep it oiled and there’s a ball in it. I was a catcher as a kid and played a little center. The glove is by no means worn out. Played a few years of softball with it. If you didn’t catch the ball in the webbibg…OUCH!. Some leather and then your hand. No padding in the pocket. I re-laced the fingers once about about thirty years ago. Have his card somewhere in my box-o-cards at my Dad’s place. Crap…sounds like I’m old huh? (56)

  9. robbinsca - Jan 4, 2010 at 10:56 PM

    The Don Mossi card was one of my all time favorites. Glad to hear he has other “fans”…….

  10. Darren Rasmussen - Jan 5, 2010 at 9:07 AM

    I remember when Kevin Tapani pitched for the Twins he said that his name was actually Finnish, not Italian.

  11. Dr Paisley - Jan 5, 2010 at 9:18 AM

    So what’s up with the ballcaps? Did they paint them with team logos, then find out they didn’t grease the right palms to be able to use them and had them painted over?

  12. Jamie - Jan 5, 2010 at 9:21 AM

    Yeah, Tapani is a pretty common Finnish name. And he’s on the Wikipedia list of famous “Finnish Americans”. Maybe his mother was Italian.

  13. pete baldelli - Jan 5, 2010 at 10:23 AM

    what????…the greatest italian american baseball players name has been left out….YOU HAVE TO HAVE ROCCO BALDELLI IN THIS SET!!!!…OUTRageous….ps. wheres barry zito????

  14. Craig Calcaterra - Jan 5, 2010 at 11:32 AM

    Pete — there’s a Zito card. I’m looking right at it.
    Not sure why Rocco got left off. Maybe he’s not a “hero” like Zito is . . .

  15. Gordon Strauss - Jan 5, 2010 at 6:46 PM

    Brings back memories

  16. Garmin 305 review - Jan 12, 2010 at 9:10 AM

    Wow this was probably one of the best articles I have go over on the topic so far. I do not have any idea where you get all your information but up! I am gunna send a few folks on over to take a look at this post. Fantastic, totally awesome.

  17. Herbert Klein - Jan 30, 2010 at 11:44 AM

    The cards were designed to raise as much money for the Sons of Italy foundation, and as little for anyone else or business. All the work at NEHF is volunteer. The cards are an attempt to glorify the individuals who made valuable contributions to making baseball “America’s Game”- not the teams or leagues, just the people. They are in no way even the “top 100″, just a consensus of some pretty good guys who should be remembered. We at NEHF made a very large investment in the painting, researching and printing. The absolutely beautiful cards are unique and disappearing fast, so he who hesitates is going to have to pay an auction price.
    So get out your credit card and get them while you can.

  18. Jamie Justason - Feb 13, 2010 at 6:09 PM

    Greetings thanks for posting this, found it to be a interesting read after finding it on google searching for similar topics and i shall pass the link on to severa friends.

  19. snuggie for dogs - Mar 2, 2010 at 3:25 PM

    Interesting article. Were did you got all the information from…

  20. snuggie for dogs - Mar 2, 2010 at 3:25 PM

    Please, can you PM me and tell me few more thinks about this, I am really fan of your blog…

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