Using FaceApp to Put a Smile on Classic Baseball Cards


Smiles aren’t something you see on a lot of baseball cards. But, really, how many players are beaming while they’re in the batter’s box? How many pitchers have a big grin when they’re throwing off the mound?


With action shots being the norm on most cards, there’s more intensity on them than looks of delight.

Even when there are portraits, happy faces aren’t always on display. Many people prefer a more stoic look.

How would some classic baseball cards change if the players were smiling? I used FaceApp to find out.

FaceApp is available on smartphones. It’s perfect for people like me who are especially awkward in contrived situations that require smiling. The app goes in and adds grins to the original photo in a way that look surprisingly natural. The app also has the ability to age someone, make them look younger and more.

Let’s start with one of the most iconic baseball cards of all-time, the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle.

In the original, Mantle has his mouth open, but it’s not exactly a smile.

1952 Topps Mickey Mantle

A quick run through FaceApp and the tone changes dramatically.

1952 Topps Mickey Mantle Smile

Let’s skip ahead to 1965 Topps Baseball. Roberto Clemente doesn’t seem to be feeling it.

1965 Topps Roberto Clemente

And a grin and it changes things completely. Not only is the smile beaming but there’s a twinkle in Clemente’s eyes.

1965 Topps Roberto Clemente Smile

Let’s play some more. This time it’s the 1969 Topps Johnny Bench.

1969 Topps Johnny Bench

Now with more smile.

1969 Topps Johnny Bench Smile

But FaceApp has that aging too. Bench was young then so let’s add some years.

1969 Topps Johnny Bench Old

It’s Joe Namath!

Joe Namath

How about something a little more modern? Like this 1980s gem.

Here’s the 1984 Donruss Don Mattingly we know and love.

1984 Donruss Don Mattingly

He’s not unhappy, but let’s make Mattingly’s mood mightier.

1984 Donruss Don Mattingly Smile


Now, let’s see how FaceApp interprets multiple generations of Mattinglys.

Old Man Mattingly:

1984 Donruss Don Mattingly Old

And Young Whippersnapper Mattingly:

1984 Donruss Don Mattingly Young

So if we can make baseball players look young, what happens to the one called The Kid–Ken Griffey Jr. and his iconic 1989 Upper Deck Rookie Card.

No filter.

1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr

And “young” 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr.

1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr Young

Now you know where the nickname came from.

So if you’re looking to pass some time on your phone, check out FaceApp and start messing with images of your favorite cards. It doesn’t take much getting used to. Just get the original images saved on your phone and go from there.

You never know what kind of strange results you’ll come up with.

T206 Honus Wagner Smile


Ryan Cracknell

A collector for much of his life, Ryan focuses primarily on building sets, Montreal Expos and interesting cards. He's also got one of the most comprehensive collections of John Jaha cards in existence (not that there are a lot of them). Got a question, story idea or want to get in touch? You can reach him by email and through Twitter @tradercracks.

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