A baseball card mystery: Glenn Hubbard and the snake

Most of our baseball card mysteries deal with questions of “who” and “when.” As diehard fans, we want to know the names of all the players shown on the card. We also want to know when the card’s picture was taken—and where.


This one is different. I know that this indeed is Glenn Hubbard, coming off his only All-Star Game berth, appearing on his 1984 Fleer card. The sure-handed second baseman is wearing the powder blue road uniform that the Braves famously used throughout much of the 1980s. I know that the photograph was taken at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, on a day when the “Phillie Phanatic,” a Barney Rubble mascot, and a host of balloons could be found on the field prior to the game. (That was some kind of pre-game promotion the Phillies staged that day.)

So here’s the relevant question. Why? I’ve tried to research the back story to this card, but have come up empty in my searches. Why is Hubbard holding a snake, which has been draped over his shoulders? Why is he holding such a large snake, one that appears capable of strangling him? And taken a step further, is Hubbard out of his mind?

I’d also be curious as to what kind of snake it is that Hubbard is holding. I confess to knowing almost nothing about snakes, other than the fact that I don’t like them, and certain members of my family are absolutely terrified by them. I would assume that the snake in question is not poisonous, but it is no less frightening to me and small children.

For what it’s worth, the Phillie Phanatic looks particularly alarmed by the presence of the snake on Hubbard’s shoulders. In contrast, Hubbard looks completely unconcerned. He’s content, almost proud of his serpentine friend.

The question is, “Why?” Why a snake?

Bruce Markusen has authored seven baseball books, including biographies of Roberto Clemente, Orlando Cepeda and Ted Williams, and A Baseball Dynasty: Charlie Finley’s Swingin’ A’s, which was awarded SABR's Seymour Medal.
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10 years ago

It’s a non-poisonous constrictor snake, one often owned as a pet.  Ball python?  Boa?  Not sure.
As to why, I have no idea.

Bruce Markusen
10 years ago

Wade, when you say a constrictor snake, do you mean a snake that can coil itself around a victim and strangle it? Because that doesn’t sound much better than a poisonous snake!

Steve I
10 years ago

Pythons and anacondas don’t technically “strangle,” as in wrapping around the neck; they wrap around the body of their victims, tightening on the exhale, preventing them from drawing in a breath.  (Not more comforting, but more accurate.)

10 years ago

It’s a boa constrictor. They’re not dangerous to humans and are actually often kept as pets.

This site mentions something about a Phillie Phanatic Birthday Bash:


And for more on boas: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boa_constrictor#Captivity

Bruce Markusen
10 years ago

Cass, I tried the link, but it did not work. But this answers some of the questions about why there were balloons on the field. Now if we can just figure out how the snake fits into the Phanatic’s birthday celebration.

10 years ago

Bruce, copy and paste the whole link, including the line underneath it.  The comment box cuts off the link after the 08.  It will work.

6 years ago

Ever find out the story to this?