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Tito Fuentes was a fine baseball player.

In a career that spanned from 1965 through 1978, Fuentes logged 6073 plate appearances and collected nearly 1500 hits, good for a .268 lifetime average. Along the way, he became a fan favorite with the San Francisco Giants and also logged time with the San Diego Padres, Detroit Tigers, and Oakland A’s.

During those golden years, Fuentes also made some pretty strong baseball card appearances, and his big personality always shone through.

But, toward the end of his run with the Padres, Fuentes appeared on a piece of cardboard so monstrous that it has engendered decades of conspiracy theories and dark whispers.

Just what is the truth behind the 1977 Topps Tito Fuentes card?

1977 Topps Tito Fuentes

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Here are the leading hypotheses …

  • Fuentes was making a not-so-subtle suggestion to voters that he should finally win a Gold Glove.
  • Fuentes was taking part in the little-known tryouts for the part of real-life Topps All-Star Rookie trophy.
  • The Padres were punishing Fuentes for his legendary bat flip, perpetrated many times against the team while Fuentes toiled with the Giants.
  • Fuentes was taunting the Giants — “See what you let go? I’m golden! Golden, I say!!”.
  • McDonald’s was experimenting with their “Mustard Dog” — a hot dog with a wedge of mustard thick enough to drive a car across — and they were testing the market with one of their real-life hot dogs.
  • Everyone wanted to win gold during the 1976 Olympics — the Padres had no chance of winning anything, so they turned Fuentes into their very own human gold medal.
  • Fuentes was auditioning for the 1984 Detroit Tigers, who he knew would be a juggernaut. “I’m solid gold,” he allegedly told Tigers GM Jim Campbell. It almost worked, because Detroit signed Fuentes as a free agent before the 1977 season, but then … well, Alan Trammell. And Lou Whitaker.
  • Fuentes had just finished a shift at McDonald’s. Part of his deal was to work the drive-thru every Saturday morning the Pads were at home. Tito didn’t think Golden Arches honcho Ray Kroc was serious — but Mr. Kroc didn’t joke about fast food.
  • This outfit was Tito’s reward for setting the Padres records for hits by an infielder.

  • Tito didn’t care what he looked like in his photo because he knew his “star” signature would carry the day.
  • Tito lost his Padres hat in a bat-flip dustup and had to wear the bat boy’s cap.
  • This is not Tito Fuentes. It is the Tito Fuentes bobblehead the Padres gave away to the first three fans on Tito Fuentes Bobblehead Night at San Diego Stadium.
  • Tito’s Aunt Delia made him a special uniform when he signed with the Padres. You cannot disappoint Aunt Delia.
  • Tito bought this cutesy outfit for his pet poodle. The poodle did not appreciate the gesture … a tussle ensued … Tito’s real Padres uniform got torn and tattered and, well, eaten … Tito wore the poodle outfit to his next game.
  • The Padres lied about their uniforms when negotiating Tito’s contract.
  • Tito decided to make his uniform look as bad as possible so that the awful Padres team would look better by comparison.
  • Dave Winfield made all of his teammates dress down — or ridiculously — so that Dapper Dave would look even more stunning.

Do any of these theories tell the whole story on their own?

Almost certainly not.

But somewhere within these murmured secrets, you just know at least part of the golden truth is lurking.

(Check out our other player card posts here.)

1976 Buckmans Discs Set-Break Tito Fuentes PSA 5 EX

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