Thursday, May 30, 2019

Cardboard on the Big Screen: Cop Out & Ruby Cairo

It's been a while since I posted about The List of Baseball Cards in Movies and TV, though I tweet about it sometimes. Since initially publishing it, I've been updating it about once a month with a few new and/or improved entries.

Recent updates include:

3/17: South Park (football cards pic added), Edward Scissorhands (new entry), Shrill (new entry), Airplane! (new entry), Partridge Family (updated with pics), Welcome Back Kotter (new entry), Love American Style (new entry)

4/21: Angie Tribeca (new entry), Garden State (new entry), Blast From The Past (more pics), The Sopranos (new entry), Pepper Ann (new entry), Little Monsters (updated with pics), Conan O'Brien Show (new entry), Comedy Bang! Bang! (new entry), Stuart Little (updated with pic), Royal Pains (pic added)

5/29: Houseguest (updated with pic), Ruby Cairo (updated with pic), Blue Bloods (updated with pic), A League of Their Own (updated with pic), Cop Out (updated with pics), Superstore (new entry), Good Will Hunting (updated), Check It Out! with Dr. Steve Brule (new entry)

I try to keep the entries in the list brief, as the thing is kinda huge as is, but if I want to get a little more in depth, I can make a post like this one. In this post, I'm gonna go a little more "long form" with a couple flicks that feature cards in a starring role.

First up is Cop Out, a 2010 buddy cop action-comedy directed by Kevin Smith and starring Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan. It's not great, but could be worse. As a card collector, the coolest thing about it is that baseball cards are central to the plot.

There's a quick flashback scene with some kids flipping through stacks of 1952 Topps cards-- only those don't seem to be real '52s, or even reprints of real '52s. I'm assuming they were whipped up by the props department, but if you recognize these specific cards, let me know in the comments.

Near the start of the film, NYPD detective Jimmy Monroe (Bruce Willis) decides to sell a treasured keepsake to raise money for his daughter's extravagant wedding: "It's a gem mint 10 Andy Pafko. 1952, the Topps Gum Company came out with the first modern baseball cards. Andy Pafko was #1, the first card in that set. Kids would collect the cards, right? And they'd stack 'em up, wrap rubber bands around them. My pop never wrapped any rubber bands around his card. Loved Andy Pafko. Always took good care of him. About 4 or 5 years ago, they sold one of these gem mint 10s at auction for about $83,000."

The Pafko shown looks to be a reprint, and isn't graded.

So he goes to a hobby shop to sell it, though unfortunately for him, Stifler from American Pie robs the shop, tazes the off-duty detective, and makes off with the Pafko. Among other stuff in the shop (cards, bobbleheads, Starting Lineups), looks like several '89 Topps cello packs available. Eagle-eyed Twitter follower Zinn Beck offered, "In the rack packs I see Argenis (Angel) Salazar, Floyd Youmans, Terry Puhl, Tony Armas, Mark Langston, Les Lancaster, Pete Incaviglia, Doc Edwards and Dwayne Henry." Jason T. Carter pointed out what seems to be a boyhood photo of Pete Rose on the plaque under the Reds sundae helmet.‏

I love this sign in the shop, and half-joked that I'd like to get one of these for my wife, with the hopes that someone would then dump some cards on her for me.

The search for the card leads them to a latino drug kingpin who happens to be a big baseball fan. He's got quite the impressive memorabilia room. Is that a Montreal Royals cap? Minneapolis Miners, maybe? There appear to be some custom prop cards here that are similar to 1988 Topps.

I thought displaying a signed 1986 Donruss Charlie Moore card was kinda funny. I mean, sure, he had a few good seasons, but he was never an all-star or anything. Next to it seems to be another faux '88 Topps card. The glove is printed with "RFO Reach - Babe Ruth - Home Run Special". I'm not sure about the signed ball, but looks to me like the first name is Adam and the last name ends with Z.

More cards which seem to be made-up props. More '88 Topps style cards, some '87 Topps, and '52 Topps. Again, if you can identify any of these as specific real cards, please speak up.

The vintage gloves are strangely dated 1979 and 1988, respectively. Seems odd they'd be that modern. I looked up the names, and it turns out they are both guys in the motion picture industry (though neither is listed in the credits for Cop Out):

Mike Tadross (glove #1) has been a production manager on films such as I Am Legend, Die Hard: With a Vengeance, Forrest Gump, Beverly Hills Cop III, Naked Gun 33 1/3, and Wayne's World 2.

Joseph Garzero (glove #2) seems to be an accomplished "scenic artist", working on films like Zoolander, Private Parts, Sleepless in Seattle, and Home Alone 2.

Cop Out came out nearly a decade ago, so if you were interested in watching it, you probably have by now. But if you haven't, and were planning on watching it one of these days...

Spoiler alert!:

Near the end, there's a shootout and the gem mint '52 Pafko ends up being ruined by a bullet through the face. That's gotta hurt!

If you wanna watch Cop Out, it's currently streaming on HBO.

-    -   -  --o

Next up is Ruby Cairo. It's a 1992 flick directed by Graeme Clifford, who according to its star, was stoned the whole time.

The film opens with a black & white scene of a kid catching Bill Mazeroski's famous home run in the 1960 World Series. It then morphs into the opening credits, with a few baseball cards displayed. Here we can spot 1981 Manny Sanguillén, 1961 Rocky Nelson, and a 1959 I haven't gotten around to identifying, but let me know in the comments if you can place it.

At about 11 and half minutes in, there's a brief yard sale scene that features a table of cards, heavy on 1990 Topps. Kyle Abbott #1 Draft Pick is the only card here I can identify without help (full disclosure, I thought it was "Kurt" Abbott at first.. but hey, pretty close), and there's also what I believe is a '54 White Sock and a '71 Angel among the other '90 Topps. Again, bragging rights to whomever is first to identify these cards in the comments below.

The year this movie came out, Kyle Abbott went a painful 1-14 with an ERA over 5.. the Ruby Cairo curse? LOL. He then spent a couple years in the minors before coming back for a strong 1995 season, though his career was done after just 3 rough games in 1996.

An old guy haggles the lady down for a handful of cards. This stack seems to consist of a few '86 Topps and what I'd wager is a '59 Al Dark on the bottom. Imagine passing up a '54 and '71 in favor of some '86! Assuming the cost per card was equal, that's nuts. Come on, Hollywood-- unrealistic!

An '85 Topps Onix Concepción is the first card to get a lot of quality screen time. That's gotta be a high point in the career of a guy with a career WAR of an even 0.0. Well ok, he also got a ring as the starting shortstop of the '85 Royals.. but it's not like his .204 batting average that year got them there.

As for the film's plot: A widow (Andie MacDowell) finds a stack of old baseball cards that her late husband (Viggo Mortensen) used in a money laundering scheme. She discovers that player names and markings on certain numbers on the back of the cards are clues to bank accounts, a discovery that leads her on a suspenseful trail around the world as she attempts to collect the money and solve the questions surrounding her husband's death. They all seem to be authentic Topps cards. Among the other cards getting screen time are 1981 Manny Sanguillén, 1973 Milt Pappas, 1967 Orlando Cepeda, 1959 Don Mueller, 1961 Rocky Nelson, 1962 Harvey Haddix, 1960 Bobby Thomson, and 1965 Bill Mazeroski.

If all that defacing wasn't enough to bother a card collector, after she closes out the bank account of each corresponding baseball card, she rips the card in half. Ouch!

The movie was a box office dud and was later retitled Deception when it was recut and released on video. I wasn't able to find it streaming anywhere except for a Spanish-dubbed version on YouTube. I took several years of Spanish in school, but sadly have retained very little of it. Thankfully the wikipedia plot synopsis helped me figure out what was going on. ¡Gracias!

So anyways, there are a couple motion pictures where baseball cards played a central role. Remember to keep an eye on my big list every month or so if this is the kind of thing that interests you.

Thanks for reading!


  1. On Ruby Cairo, it looks like the other ‘90 Topps card is of Bob McClure.

  2. Your dedication to this list is awesome! Really enjoy it.

  3. The 1959 card in the Ruby Cairo credits has to be future manager Whitey Lockman.

    Love this project. Enjoyed these writeups...going to check out the updates now!

  4. Great post. I can't imagine I'll actually watch either of these movies, but I really enjoyed your summary and how the cards play a role. Plus I spied a cool 1952 Topps Ichiro that I've never seen before. Maybe it's a prop?

  5. The '71 Topps card appears to be Andy Messersmith. On the table with the two gloves of the movie industry people there's a card or mock-up of 2005 Topps Total. The team logo is missing. It look like an Atlanta Brave but there are no Braves Total cards from that year that match it. The card shop also has 2007 Topps for sale and a hanging rack of something when Albert Pujols was a big deal (2008 maybe?). The 1959 Topps card is Whitey Lockman.

  6. great post, but that last gif is really hard to watch

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  8. I didn't think Cop Out was a bad movie. Definitely had some funny parts I had to LOL at.


    Modern Family Episode 310

    Cool list.