1989-90 7th Inning Sketch OHL card # 174 – Casey Jones
Team mascot cards are an unfortunate side-effect of minor league and junior league hockey sets. It is safe to say that the majority of us would rather get a card of a hockey player instead of some googley-eyed monstrosity.
And for the most part, we are spared. NHL trading card sets have pretty specific rules about who can and cannot be shown on a card (sorry, Iceburgh). Even team-issued sets that are given away at NHL games tend to stick to players and coaches. That logic gets tossed out the window with minor and junior league sets, that sometime expand their scope to also include trainers, team doctors, ticket reps, secretaries and yes, even mascots – no matter how evil they look.
Casey Jones is the stuff of adolescent nightmares; a cross between H.R. Pufnstuf and a Steven King monster from a made-for-TV special. Loosely based on the famous railroad conductor of the same name, Casey Jones was the team mascot of the North Bay Centennials of the Ontario Hockey League. And he is one creepy mofo. Tell me, what is endearing about that pasty, puffy, papier-mache face of his? Or those dark, soulless eyes. Or the nefarious twirling of his mustache? Or the fact that he is not shown at a hockey game, interacting with fans – but instead is emerging from the dark, like a villain ready to tie his next victim to the tracks.
Mascots are supposed to be approachable, kid-friendly characters. Casey is neither.
Twenty years back, this card nearly scared the crap out of me. There I was, opening a box of OHL trading cards, expecting to get cards of Eric Lindros and Mike Ricci – not this drug-induced hallucination. Just like a good horror film, the villain appears when least expected.