In 1985, Nolan Ryan, then with the Houston Astros, was bitten by a coyote while reaching into a dog pen. In 2006, Amelie Mancini left Paris to move to New York and fall in love with baseball. These two seemingly insignificant events collide with a new set of handmade baseball cards that mix pain and art.
Bizarre Injuries is the first set of cards from Mancini's Left Field Cards. Just like the name suggests, these aren't your average cards. Rather than taking the traditional approach of photographs and mass copies, Mancini's cards are by hand in the basement of a local church using linocuts.
"It's a kind of printmaking," explains Mancini. "A block of linoleum is carved by hand and then inked and pressed on the paper, leaving a print that has some relief to it."
Bizarre Injuries is sold as two separate five-card packs. One pack has cards of Ryan, John Smoltz, Bret Barberie, Terry Mulholland and Glenallen Hill, who hurt himself in the midst of a spider nightmare. The second pack features Wade Boggs, Clint Barmes, Adam Eaton, Kevin Mitchell and Joel Zumaya. Each pack of five cards is $15.
Just like the subject matter, the cards aren't like traditional baseball cards. They measure 4 x 6, like a postcard.
"I got the idea after seeing one of these super-sized cards that came in single packs in the '80s," says Mancini.
Mancini, who holds a Master's Degree in Design and Fine Arts from Sorbonne University in Paris, moved to New York five years ago and soon discovered baseball.
"I didn't know anything about baseball until a couple of friends took me to Shea Stadium one afternoon in September, 2007. The Mets lost, of course," remembers Mancini. "Over the next couple of years I started watching games regularly, talking to people, reading books, and the more I found out about the game, the more fascinated I became. By then I'd finally realized what a bad decision it had been to become a Met fan how miserable I would be. But at the same time I just loved reading about the '69 and '86 Mets. I've been a most loyal and passionate fan."
Mancini, who has a collection of Mets and other random cards, already has another set of cards in the works: Edible All-Stars, which is scheduled to be released in late January or early February. Following that, Mancini is unsure exactly where she'll go, but is planning to do one on epic baseball mustaches.
As for Bizarre Injuries, Mancini explains her inspiration, "I wanted a fun, silly, weird theme and this came to me after reading fun facts about baseball players on the Internet."
She said she doesn't have plans for another injuries set, but is open to it as long as players continue to hurt themselves in strange ways.
Packs of Bizarre Injuries cards can be purchased here. Through the end of 2011, Left Field Cards is also offering free shipping.