While hunting for baseball cards at my local flea market, I came across this unexpected relic:
How many 19th century French novelists are in YOUR baseball card collection?
Pretty wild that a French journalist who exposed an anti-Semitic plot to frame a Jewish army captain for treason in 1898 could compete for equal mindshare with Mickey Mantle. But in the 1952 Topps “Look ‘N See” trading card set, the infamous Alfred Dreyfus trial had a cameo.
For some perspective, take a look at who qualifies as a trading card hero for today’s kids: Hot dog eating champion Joey Chestnut.
Competitive glutton Joey Chestnut heroically gazes toward the future.
So how did Zola wind up achieving American cardboard immortality? Likely due to “The Life of Emile Zola” being the 1937 Oscar winner for Best Picture.
Might a movie on Chestnut’s performance in Deep-Fried Asparagus Eating Contests also be in the cards?
I'll trade you two Albert Pujols and a Saddam Hussein for Hafez Assad and a Dictator to Be Named Later.
Card #187 from the 1991 Topps Desert Storm series.
Kids don’t stick trading cards in their bicycle spokes anymore. Heck, do kids even get off their rear ends and ride bikes these days?
I can’t imagine that this Hafez Assad card was that popular on the playground. If you think that Bashar Assad is now being an unreasonable man, his daddy was not the posterboy for Amnesty International either.
Yet, Topps makes Hafez sound like a harmless old man who just yells at the neighborhood kids to get off his lawn. Here’s the inscription on the back of his rookie card:
“The President of Syria, Hafez Assad played an important role in Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm. As the leader of a radical Arab nation and Iraq’s neighbor, the Allied coalition was happy to have Syria’s cooperation and help. However, Hafez Assad always made it clear that Syria’s cooperation hinged on the issue of Israel not becoming involved in the conflict. With this in mind, Assad still contributed troops and arms toward liberating Kuwait from his old rival Saddam Hussein.”
I’m sure the people of Kuwait remain SO grateful for the three armored snack trucks that Syria sent to the front lines.
And as for Israel “not becoming involved in the conflict,” I can tell you first hand that they got involved.
(If you like to collect more risque Middle East artifacts than trading cards, check out “The Secret Life of Syrian Lingerie.”)