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Verlander liked 'funky' card designs
06/10/2008 1:00 PM ET
Justin Verlander was among the rare card collectors who enjoyed the looks of the cards more than who was pictured on them.

The hard-throwing right-hander from Old Dominion was the Tigers' first-round pick -- and second overall -- in 2004. He pitched in just 20 games in the Minor Leagues before entering the Tigers' rotation late in 2005. The 25-year-old had a 35-15 record in his first two full seasons in Detroit. All of his depictions on cards are in a big league Tigers uniform.

Verlander recently spoke about the design work that pulled him into card collecting as a youngster. Which cards did you collect when you were younger?

Verlander: It wasn't so much the player as it was the card. I liked the way the cards looked -- the design, the background. They were doing a lot of neat stuff when I started collecting cards ... I remember some card, it had a guy swinging and the background kept expanding backward. It was real weird-looking and funky. That was my favorite -- all hitters, too. I don't remember pitchers ... I had a lot of Frank Thomas' cards. I liked baseball, I liked cards. I remember Topps, Upper Deck, Fleer. Did you trade cards?

Verlander: Sure. I had fun with it. A couple of my buddies used to collect them, too, and we'd trade them. Of course, I got the best of the deals. Where did you first appear on a card?

Verlander: I had Little League cards -- a little cardboard thing -- and my dad had a bunch of them. I really didn't have a Minor League card. I signed a Major League deal out of the draft, so I was in my Tigers uniform. That was pretty unique. Here I was collecting cards, and there I am on one. What's your favorite card ever since?

Verlander: I like seeing all of them. They're always coming out with new and different stuff. When people ask me to sign them, you always see new cards. I think it's neat. If I get a card where I'm in the middle of my mechanics, I'll just check out my mechanics and make sure they're all right. You learn from it.

-- Red Line Editorial

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.