Frank Drebin, ‘Umpire’
Baseball fans, sports fans, and people who just like to laugh are mourning the passing of Leslie Nielsen earlier this week.
Nielsen was the anchor of the ‘Naked Gun’ movies – OJ Simpson was one of his co-stars – but he also had a loose connection to baseball, thanks to his hilarious portrayal of MLB umpire Frank Drebin.
The following, written by Chris Olds, appeared on ESPN Page 2.
Many of you might know him as Lt. Frank Drebin, a former major league baseball umpire or, of course, opera star Enrico Pallazzo.
But many of you might not know that Leslie Nielsen, who died Sunday at age 84, actually can be found in packs of baseball cards.
Upper Deck landed the former “Naked Gun” star for an appearance in its 2009 Spectrum Baseball set, which included a set of autographed celebrity cards.
Nielsen can be found in the 22-card Spectrum of Stars Autographs set alongside Burt Reynolds, Corey Feldman, Kim Kardashian, Kendra Wilkinson, Linda Hamilton and even Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong. But none of those stars thwarted Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson’s attempt to attack the Queen of England, surely making Nielsen’s card perhaps more endearing to a baseball fan, right?
Nielsen signed two different cards – a standard version of his Spectrum of Stars card and a rarer version limited to 50 copies. Before his death, the standard card typically sold for somewhere between $15 and $40, while the rarer card typically fetched as much as $50.
In addition to those two cards, Nielsen also appears on four printing plate cards, the sheets of metal used to print the cards which were cut down to card size and randomly placed into packs.
Since the news of the star’s death, the standard card has fetched as much as $65 in online auctions.
Below, a great clip from the memorable career of an umpire who just wanted to blend in …