Walt Weiss

Walt Weiss, 1990 Topps #165

Every institution has one year associated with utter crap. For Topps baseball cards, that year was 1990, so this card warrants both an explanation of why that year was crap *and* a crap-related story about Walt Weiss.

1990’s Topps card design consisted of right-angle block borders colored by a system of dot printing reminiscent of the earliest comic books. Cardstock was grainy and printing overlays were frequently mismatched — something made worse only by Topps’ propensity for cutting cards off-center. Throw in boring photography and you’ve got a pack of poor quality cards that are ugly and impossible to keep in good condition, and one of them has a rotten gum and wax stains on the back to start.

It’s impossible to know what Oakland A’s shortstop Walt Weiss is doing on card #165, but he isn’t actually playing baseball. He’s running. He isn’t fielding, as there’s no glove. He’s not running the bases because there’s no batting helmet. And that helmet didn’t fall off as he ran, either.

The A’s wore grey uniforms on the road and white at home that year; they used yellow for practice and as an alternate uniform. This is a grainy, blurry photo of Walt Weiss jogging at practice printed on low-quality cardstock with a retina-burning border begging to show scratches, dings and wear just from eye contact. There were only about 48 trillion of these cards produced, so it’s possible to wallpaper an entire bathroom in 1990 Topps Walt Weisses for ~$13.

When I see Walt Weiss’s 1990 Topps card, I think of crap — and then I think of more crap.

In 1998 Walt Weiss’s 3-year old son contracted an uncommonly serious strain of E. coli called O157:H7. Toddler Weiss contracted E. coli from a wading pool at White Water Recreation Park in Alanta, GA, where state health officials mapped out the following scenario: An infected child defecated in the wading pool and children, including Weiss’s son, swallowed the water, which didn’t contain enough chlorine to kill the E. coli. They posit that the original defecating child (ODC) returned the very next day and crapped in the pool again, infecting even more children. Some days later there was yet another re-contamination of the wading pool either by the ODC or a child he had previously infected.

Despite experiencing life-threatening anemia and kidney failure, Weiss’s son recovered and was released in time to see his father represent the Atlanta BravesĀ in the 1998 All-Star Game — the only All-Star appearance of Weiss’s career.

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