Classic card of the week

Alex Cole, 1991 Topps

Few players struck fear into the hearts of opposing pitchers quite like Alex Cole. Some say it was the thick, oversized glasses, which not only protected his face from errant fastballs, but also gave him 7-7 vision, which led the league. (“Vision” was a statistical category in 1990, before it was replaced by “OPS.”) Others say it was the condescending smile. Said Roger Clemens in 1991: “Of all the players I hate facing, Alex Cole has to be at the top of the list. He has this smile, like he knows something that I don’t know. Like he slept with my sister or something. I tried to beam him in the eyes one time and the ball bounced of his glasses and over the wall for a three-run home run. I hate that guy.” Still, others claim that it was Cole’s penchant for trash talk that made it hard to focus on the mound. Among Alex Cole’s hit list of hurled insults are the following:
To Frank Viola: “Yo! You got nicer jheri curls than my mom!”
To Nolan Ryan: “Eat this, hick!”
To Dave Stewart: “We cool, we cool.”
To Dwight Gooden: After a steal of second base, “I run faster than your nose after a trip to the bathroom!”
Cole’s smack talk was made only a modicum less intimidating when you consider that it was done in a Steve Urkel voice. However, in the rare cases that Cole’s trash talk did not immediately elicit an intentional walk, he was rarely able to actually back up his verbal taunts. Alex Cole spent a record eight zillion years in the minor leagues before finally cracking the bigs in 1990 with the Indians, where his only role with the team was to act as Kenny Lofton’s stunt double. (Sample scenario: Lofton gets arrested for DUI; Alex Cole goes to jail.) Cole’s lack of a successful major league career may have been a result of the fact that his allergies prevented from taking the field during the months of May through August. In addition to that, before every at-bat, Cole’s mother had to run out onto the field and hand the home plate umpire her son’s inhaler, just in case.

Did you know?
As a sophomore in high school, Alex Cole won second place for his diorama of the Treaty of Versailles.