Keith Comstock's Life After His Legendary CardPlay
This story is part of Only A Game's 2019 Thanksgiving Leftovers Show. Find the full episode here.
Journalism is a public service, and back in October we brought you the very important story behind Keith Comstock’s 1989 minor league baseball card. You know, the one where he struck a pose that would go down in baseball card history.
"I just said, 'I’m gonna take it to the nuts,' " Keith explains.
Keith Comstock was a guy rebelling against baseball tradition. But what happened next?
Life After The Card
Keith Comstock last pitched in 1991. He was in his mid-30s.
Keith stuck around the game. He started working as a minor league pitching coach. And, in 1998, Keith Comstock — the guy who posed with a baseball to his nuts — became a manager.
"I did get to manage four years in the minor leagues, and I loved it — I loved it when the game was going on," Keith says. "I didn’t like it before the game or after the game, because too many times those players would get in trouble, and I’d have to go address the trouble."
As Keith suggests, managing a low-level minor league club involves a lot more than setting the lineup or pitching rotation. You’ve got to make sure a lot of other things are running smoothly, too — like the photo shoots for the baseball cards.
You might not be surprised to hear that Keith’s players came to him with some creative ideas.
"Anytime they came up to me, if they want to do a picture like with their catcher's gear on, with a ball to the groin area? Knock yourself out. Go for it," Keith says. "Blocking a ball, take a ball to your throat? Go for it. One guy wanted to stick the ball in his mask. Knock yourself out. That's a beautiful card."
But Keith wasn’t going to let just any idea through. See, Keith Comstock had a code.
"As long as it wasn’t a photo that disrespected the game, I’m all for it," Keith says. "If it was anything that disrespected the game, then I was absolutely against it."
So what ideas did Keith shut down?
"A guy wanted to take a picture arguing with an umpire. I didn’t want to do that," Keith says. "Some guy wanted to take a picture with a girl in there. No, no, no, no. That ain’t gonna happen."
Keith is now the rehab pitching coordinator for the Texas Rangers. And he takes it upon himself to keep players safe from a particular injury with which he’s closely associated.
"Today's generation of pitchers just don't like to wear cups," Comstock says. "It doesn't feel comfortable. And, trust me, getting hit there in that area will not feel comfortable. So get used to wearing a cup.
"I know with the Rangers, we tell our pitchers, 'If you don't wear a cup, we'll find out. Because we'll take our fungos around those fields, and we'll pop you one. If you're not wearing a cup, we're gonna find out.' That's one of my favorite things to do in spring training."
Our original story on Keith Comstock and his legendary baseball card aired on Oct. 12, 2019.
This segment aired on November 26, 2019.