In the minors: Baseball cards going to the dogs?
By Chris Olds | Beckett Baseball Editor
Last time we went in the minors, we examined the world of mascot cards — you know, those furry freaks that keep things lively at ballparks around the world regardless of playing level.
While there are still many more unusual minor league baseball cards to be found and discussed, there are five other mascot cards we’ve tracked down that stand out from the rest of the pack.
They feature other stars of the diamond — dogs. Retrievers who help out with the simple parts of the game like feeding baseballs to the umpires and collecting bats. You may have heard a thing or two about dogs in baseball in the past, but today we’re focusing on hard-working types like Dinger The Home Run Dog of the Myrtle Beach (S.C.) Pelicans, Chase That Golden Thunder of the Trenton (N.J.) Thunder and Miss Babe Ruth of the Greensboro (N.C.) Grasshoppers.
We know there are probably other hard-working friends of the ballfield, but these three have their own baseball cards — and even some other memorabilia, too.
Let’s take a look.
Dinger is a big deal for the advanced Class A Atlanta Braves team. He has his own biography on the team’s Website and even his own merchandise. His plush doll (above) sells for $9 at the team’s pro shop.
Here’s what his bio says:
“Dinger The Home Run Dog is not your ordinary yellow lab. Over the last eight years, Dinger has earned celebrity status in Myrtle Beach by serving as one of the mascots for the Pelicans. Dinger might just be the only dog in America that has his own sponsor (Jimmy Buffett‘s Margaritaville) and logo, his own baseball card, a ‘bobbletail’ doll, a reading club for kids, a line of custom dog treats, a mini-plan ticket package for dog owners, and he even has his own photographer!
“Dinger’s repertoire of tricks keeps Pelicans fans entertained at each and every home game. Twice a game he carries a basket of fresh Carolina League baseballs from the first base dugout to the home plate umpire. On top of that, after each Pelicans victory Dinger helps celebrate by running around the bases. When Dinger reaches home he rolls over the plate and is rewarded with a dog treat for his hard work. Needless to say, the Pelicans faithful fans love it. The soft-haired celebrity also has the ability to retrieve baseball bats, but he does not like the taste of pine tar.
“Fans can watch Dinger ‘The Home Run Dog’ in action at BB&T Coastal Field throughout the summer. The show would not go on without the big ‘yella fella.'”
Dinger appears on at least three baseball cards that we know of (likely more) and prospectors should be on the lookout for the first cards of an upstart retriever this summer — Dinger’s little brother, Deuce, made his debut this summer.
In Greensboro, Miss Babe Ruth has her own line of items available in the team’s Hoppers Yard pro shop — everything from custom baseballs to dog bowls, leashes and postcards. (No word on whether she signs many autographs.)
The Class A Marlins affiliate, which was previously tied to the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox (among others,) has had the likes of Derek Jeter, Don Mattingly and Curt Schilling come through its doors. But we’re betting none moved as much merchandise as the Bambina does.
As far as we know, the 2006 Greensboro Grasshoppers Multi-Ad card above (No. 35 in the set) is her only baseball card.
The final all-star canine that we’ve found with a baseball cards is Chase That Golden Thunder, a star for the Class AA New York Yankees affilliate.
However, this past Sunday the team’s “batdog” wasn’t the only four-legged friend of man at the ballpark as it was the third annual Bark at the Park day where hundreds of fans brought their dogs to the game, a 4-1 victory over Altoona. (See photos from the event here — and let’s hope the post-game clean-up crew got bonuses.)
Chase’s presence in the team’s pro shop is a bit small — just a $4 key chain bears his likeness — but the 6-year-old Golden Retriever has another likeness ready to roam the ballpark. He has fathered his successor — a puppy born in 2008 named (by fans) Derby.
We’ll be looking for that baseball card soon, too.
Know of any other dogs making a big-league presence in the minor leagues? Let us know.
Chris Olds has collected sports cards and memorabilia since 1987. Before coming to Beckett Media, he wrote about the hobby for the Orlando Sentinel on his blog, SportsStuff, and for the San Antonio Express-News and The Tuscaloosa (Ala.) News. Do you have a comment, question or idea? Send e-mail to him at email@example.com.