Sunkist Wacky Players Basketball Cards

(By Christopher Wilson, Editor in Chief of and the adult writer of the Gab Four, sponsored by 3 Spoons Yogurt)

If eating nine boxes, each containing six pouches of approximately 12 gummy fruit snacks shaped like basketballs, wasn't in and of itself appealing, Sunkist rewarded its patrons in 1991 with a series Wacky Players basketball cards.

One card came in each box of Sunkist Fun Fruits Wacky Players Snacks, but Sunkist gave fans the opportunity to send in three UPC symbols for the complete set of nine cards.

It may be going out on a limb, but I'll assume since the Wacky Players cards were illustrations, rather than photographs of real athletes, that the players were fictional. Had they been actual players from an actual league, the NBA would have long since folded, succumbing to a far superior product.

The cards consisted of eight players and one coach. Players included Lanky Frankie, "The Wall," Stompin' Rompin' Ralph, Small-Fry Bry, Slammin' Jammin' Jerome, Nothin' But Net Nick, Dribblin' Dave and The Twin Towers. The coach of this outfit was Can-Do Carl, who wore a fish tie that may have been purchased for a quarter at one of Coach Don Nelson's yard sales.

The art on the front of the cards indicated that the Wacky Players have long inspired not only 10-year-olds, but participants in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest. Various players wore capes and blindfolds, stuck ivy in their shoes and rode skateboards on the court. And while I'm not certain, I think I remember Dwight Howard actually picking up Nate Robinson and dunking him through the hoop in one dunk contest years ago, a feat which Small-Fry Bry should have trademarked for his brand.

As book covers are to the actual text of a book, so are the front of cards to their statistics on the back. As if the art were not entertaining enough, reading the card backs revealed the Wacky Players may have been a team of mutants.

Players' heights ranged from 2'1" to 8" (although The Twin Towers' height is not listed). Players' weights range from 30 to 260 pounds. And "The Wall" is listed as having a width of 12 feet, which must make it very difficult for him to go shopping for clothes.

The cards gave statistics for the 1989 and 1990 seasons in the Wacky Players League. Along with mundane stats like points scored, the cards listed other random statistics, such as players knocked out, near misses with aircraft, speeding tickets per game, dunked in milk and number of times tripped over own feet. I'm eternally grateful number of times tripped over own feet was not tallied when I played basketball.

Amazingly, the club actually lost games, as Can-Do Carl was only able to lead the team to a 104-60 record in his two seasons, meaning the teams they played against may have been not been Washington Wizards but actual wizards.

Along with the basketball cards, Sunkist produced two previous sets of Wacky Players baseball and football cards in 1990 and '91, respectively. That I'm writing about them now proves Sunkist's cards had the same sticktoitiveness that their fruit snacks had to one's teeth.

Chris is a Waco, Texas, resident, Editor in Chief of, author of the book "Sports Briefs" and the adult writer for the Gab Four. Read more of Chris' solo columns here.

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