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Rowland Office, 1976

September 25, 2008
 Untitled 
One Continuous Mistake: The Cardboard Gods Story (So Far)

Part 2 of 3 (Continued from Skip Jutze, 1976)

I have written about Rowland Office before. But since my shoebox at the time of that writing was sadly and mysteriously lacking a single Rowland Office card, I had to attach my thoughts on the subject to a 1975 Braves team card that included the young outfielder in miniature, sardine-canned in with the other dour blurry figures from that year’s forgettable Atlanta collective. Over a year after that posting, which attempted to describe the strange gleeful hold Rowland Office’s yearly appearances on baseball cards had on my brother and me, and to speculate why all the Rowland Office cards I was sure I had owned as a child had somehow vanished, a reader named Jeff Demerly contacted me and kindly offered to cure the inexplicable Office-less wound in my collection by sending me his double of the 1976 Rowland Office card, shown here.

That was several months ago; I’ve been speechless on the subject ever since. How do you thank a guy for sending you a Rowland Office card? How do you then write about that Rowland Office card, especially since it is exactly how you remember those disappeared Rowland Office cards of childhood? To really get it right I’d have to be eight years old again, in the bedroom I shared with my brother, both of us sprawled on the floor, cards scattered all around us loose and in rubber-banded stacks. One of us holds up a new find, our version of this Rowland Office card, for the other to see. The holder of the card has his lips clamped shut, trying not to laugh until the other has silently mouthed the odd mellifluous name and taken in the strange narrow face.

Looking at the card now, I honestly don’t know what caused us to roll around on our bedroom floor laughing so hard we cried. The name is cartoonish, the face unusually long and thin, the lips pursed as if a sour remark is about to be uttered about the stench of a teammate’s flatulence. I mean, I guess he’s kind of funny looking. But now, weighed down by all my years, I also see a young guy, much younger than I am now, trying to stick in the majors, trying to hold on to the what is probably the only thing he knows how to do. I find myself focusing on his eyes, which seem alert and unsure, like those of a deer ready to bolt at the first sign of trouble. I see a human where once I only saw a ridiculous god, a god who had and still has few peers in my imagined personal Mount Olympus. He was the god of brotherly laughing fits, returning year after year to sacrifice himself in our rituals of mockery and bonding. What could be more important than that? Moments when I was living a shared life with my brother, like when we played catch in the yard, or talked about the Red Sox, or lowered the record player needle onto a new album we’d both been dying to hear, or laughed our asses off over a Rowland Office card, were the best moments of my childhood.

Instead of trying and failing to fully articulate my gratitude for those moments and for the echo of those moments that come to me through these cards, I’m going to wrap things up today by providing what will probably seem to be a nonsensical list of words and phrases. In fact they are some of the Internet search engine terms that brought searchers here, to Cardboard Gods. When I look at the list I recall players I’ve been lucky to spend time thinking about, and I recall stories I told about my life in relation to the players, and I recall stories that readers told in the comments attached to the stories I told. When I look at the list I also see things I would never have expected to see, ridiculous ripples that make me laugh, the world wider than I thought, more full of unanswerable questions and mystery and life. When I look at this list, as when I remember laughing with my brother, as when I remember Rowland Office, as when I opened an envelope from Jeff Demerly and discovered that Rowland Office had once again found his way to me, I smile. We’re all in this together. I get happy.

what is the baseball card where the guy is giving the finger

show me baseball uniforms with brown shirts

bad news bears bob watson let them play

most muscular white basketball player

a couple fornicating on green monster

famous blondes who got pies in face

why not to live in kansas city mullet

game winning bunt gary allenson

what is steve brye doing now

carl yastrzemski kielbasa

what does sixto mean

where is richie hebner

jack clark jerk

bespectacled

fistfight

jutze

(continued in Steve Ontiveros and Doug Capilla)

10 comments

  1. 1.  “Things you might say while having a seizure…?”

    “Things found written on the bathroom stall of my local sports bar…?”

    (Off-camera Dick Clark: “You’re running out of time, move on to the next one!”)

    “No, I can get this. Um, things vaguely metatagged at Cardboard Gods…?”

    (Off-camera Dick Clark: “Judges? Yes, we’ll accept that, move on!”)

    (On-camera Betty White, viewing final category: “Ah, the joys of a simple hot dog with mustard and kraut; THE MANY LOVES OF DOBIE GILLIS; the writing of Josh Wilker…”)

    “Things receiving insufficient praise and admiration!”

    (DING DING DING! Cue confetti and hugs with Betty White!)


  2. 2.  John Dopson, 1991 Topps. My brother and I would mock this guy every time he came in a package. You’d find 1 awesome Clemens card where he’s posing by the wall for ever 34 John Dopsons. He looked more like a guy who would work the fish counter at stop & shop than a major league pitcher. To this day, I think I’ve got about 15 John Dopsons in my parents basement.


  3. 3.  Rowland Office looks like the adult version of one of The Cosby Kids.


  4. 4.  The Bad News Bears one may have been me. I remember needing to know which Astros were chanting “Let them play” at the Astrodome.


  5. 5.  1 : Very amusing. There’s always something to make me laugh in these comments.

    On that note, there are some recent interesting comments on some older posts, illustrating another thing I enjoy with this site–conversations relating directly or indirectly to guys such as Herb Washington of the A’s, Bill Buckner of the Red Sox, and Bruce Sutter of the Cubs (the three old posts to attract the latest comments) remain open in perpetuity.


  6. 6.  Nice write up, Josh. (I’m Jeff Demerly)

    Glad you enjoyed the card. :)


  7. 7.  6 : Thanks again, Jeff. Stay tuned: the next entry will be mentioning (in passing) the We Are Family Pirates.


  8. Me and my brother used to laugh our heads off at the Allen Ripley card, I think the 1980 topps. It was the ultimate joking insult, “Oh yeah? Well, you look like f*&^#’n Allen Ripley!”


  9. Hey Josh,
    Great stuff…..since discovering you, I am now addicted….looking forward to getting your book.
    On the subject of Rowland Office, I too, was always fascinated with odd-sounding names. Along with Mr. Office, one of my other favorite unique names was Hosken Powell, the outfielder for the Twins. Hosken??? Is that Dutch?


  10. I have this card. My first cards were ’75 and my peak year of collecting was this ’76 set. Many years later I saw “Brother From Another Planet” and the meaning of Rowland Office was revealed. (this comment appears with the team card by mistake)



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