Notable Facts from Pope John Paul II’s Various Topps Cards

popecard
John Paul II’s card from a 1988 Topps set released only in Europe.

The Topps Company has long made a practice of publishing notable facts about players on the reverse sides of their baseball cards. It’s by way of these brief, but revealing, sentences that collectors (ardent or otherwise) have been able to gain some insight into who their heroes are as men, and not merely as athletes — by learning, for example, how right-hander Jim Slaton spent most of his time (on a boat) and for whose construction firm, specifically, Rob Deer worked (his father’s).

With the revelation recently of long-forgotten video from 1987 of Pope John Paul II taking purposeful cuts at a California-area indoor batting cage, we are reminded that he was once among the Italian baseball league’s top players. As such, Topps issued cards for the Pope annually as part of Italian card sets aimed at European consumers.

The present author has located a number of such cards. Here are notable facts from five of them:

• John was influential in the production of Vatican II, the long-awaited sequel to the original Vatican.

• John speaks Polish — or, at least, what sounds like Polish.

• John works for his father’s construction firm, metaphorically speaking.

• Gilbert Gottfried is John’s favorite comedian.

• John is infallible.




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Near
Guest
Near
3 years 7 months ago

It’s funny that whenever John Paul II is brought up, people think of the Padres. Me, I’ll never forget his year as a Cardinal.

Dan Rozenson
Guest
Dan Rozenson
3 years 7 months ago

If he is infallible, does that mean he bats 1.000?

Dan Rozenson
Guest
Dan Rozenson
3 years 7 months ago

And more importantly, how would that be represented in saber-friendly stats like WAR?

AlexandertheMeh
Member
AlexandertheMeh
3 years 7 months ago

Needless to say he has a WAR of 163.

robertobeers
Member
robertobeers
3 years 7 months ago

I thought he was part of that 4-team trade with the Cardinals, Angels, and the NBP Lotte Orions midseason. I require the reprints!

Danny Knobgobbler
Guest
Danny Knobgobbler
3 years 7 months ago

Conspicuous by omission: JP II’s involvement in The Bat Boy Locker Room Incident of 1987, swept under the rug by then NL president and fellow paisan, A. Bartlett Giamatti. Giamatti would go on to be promoted to Commissioner of Major League Baseball just two years later.

olethros
Guest
olethros
3 years 6 months ago

Perfect combination of internet moniker and comment right there.

Oh, Beepy
Guest
Oh, Beepy
3 years 6 months ago

You mean because neither are particularly insightful, funny nor clever?

chiefs
Guest
chiefs
3 years 6 months ago

My older brother almost got arrested selling Pope buttons in Central Park when he came to NYC in the 90s, but my aunt talked the cop out of locking him up. I had a basketball game and did not participate. On the same day my brother also gave talkshow host Conan O’brien a Pope button. Additionally, the picture of the Pope on the button was the same one from the 70s on his last visit to NYC.

Carl Spackler
Guest
Carl Spackler
3 years 6 months ago

Gunga de gunga.

Carl Spackler
Guest
Carl Spackler
3 years 6 months ago

Or maybe it was galunga … big hitter, the lama.

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