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Reggie Jackson, 1976

February 2, 2009

reggie-jackson-763
(Note: The following was my farewell to the disbanding Baseball Toaster; the ongoing travelogue-in-cardboard “Somewhere I lost Connection” will resume with my next post.)

A god stands in a moment of contemplative reflection. Shadows give way to sun as he readies to move into the center of attention, that bright stage he was born to command. Behind him, the faces in the crowd that will watch his every move have been blurred to something like Monet’s lily pads, those hypnotic omens of the inevitable dusk into which we’ll all dissolve, as if the card was meant to whisper that all names, even those of the greatest among us, will eventually unravel to silence. In fact, the whole card aches with transience: by the time it thrummed in the palms of the boys of America the superduperstar had moved on, traded to Baltimore, the regal joy of the card’s blazing gold uniform a lie. The most magnificent team of the Cardboard God era became an empty golden shell for the remainder of my childhood.

***

Time dismantles. If the Oakland A’s of the early 1970s couldn’t hold together, what chance do the rest of us have? Indeed, the very platform upon which these words stand is eroding. In other words, Baseball Toaster is coming to an end, all its pieces scattering or dissolving.

I enjoyed it while it lasted, and as my farewell I’m sending Reggie to the plate for my last at-bat here. This is partly because even I, who grew to despise Reggie when he became the self-professed, self-aggrandizing straw that stirred the drink that was the hated Yankees, know that no one was ever better suited for the final at-bat. It’s also partly because I know he’s the favorite player of the straw that stirred the drink of Baseball Toaster, creator Ken Arneson. Unlike Reggie, who seemed to prefer the solo spotlight, Ken is a great believer in the benefits of a chorus of voices. It was the communal effort I enjoyed the most here, and by that I mean not only the feeling of being a part of a team of bloggers but of being part of a wider community of thoughtful, baseball-savvy conversationalists. Last April, Ken spoke to the benefits of that kind of pluralistic exchange of ideas when he offered these thoughts in a comment on a Dodger Thoughts post about the growing divide between old-school newspaper writers and bloggers:

Blog entries are links in a chain. The unit of measurement in blogging is not the article, the unit of measurement is the conversation. . . The picture is painted by everyone who participates in the conversation, across multiple comments and blog entries and blogs. Believe me, if you say something wrong on the web, you will be corrected. Yes, it’s a messy process full of noise, but it also is a process that leads, in the end, to a more complete and accurate picture of the issues than the voice of just one person, no matter how talented.

I hope that the communal feel that has surrounded my forays into the past here at Baseball Toaster continues at the new home of Cardboard Gods. I know I’ll keep trying to fight time’s relentless dismantling, but as Ken implies, one voice can only do so much.

***

Time dismantles; voices come together. I knew this by the time I first held this card in my hands, in 1976, when I was eight. The year before, I had attended my first major league baseball game, at Fenway Park in Boston, the Red Sox hosting the A’s. You would think such a seminal moment would remain forever vivid in my mind, but because time dismantles I can only remember two things. The first is that I was amazed by my initial view of the glowing green field when we came up the runway to our seats in right field. The second is Reggie. A certain sense of excitement surrounded him throughout the game, and finally, late, the sky darkening and the huge blinding banks of artificial lights flooding the field in something brighter than day, the crowd’s excitement turned to caustic, resentful awe. I can’t even remember what exactly he did in the game’s waning moments to defeat the beloved local nine but I remember the way the crowd reacted. A throng ten times the size of my Vermont town prayed together in anger and disappointment and secret grudging wonder to one strutting spectacular god.

26 comments

  1. Too bad about the Toaster. I followed you here but in time enjoyed all the writers particularly Mark the Rockies fan who could barely bring himself to enjoy his team’s magical run to the World Series and wrote the funniest and most perceptive American Idol recaps ever; and Bronx Banter where I chimed in as an enemy and was treated well anyhow.


  2. Glad to see you landed safely, Josh. The new digs look nice. I’ll have a post up in the morning that will hopefully remind folks to come this way.


  3. Don Stanhouse makes me feel right at home!


  4. I love the Don Stanhouse quote on the front page. I hope your new “home” treats you well.


  5. Great Reggie post.

    Don Stanhouse – you got my vote dude – lol.


  6. “Too bad about the Toaster. I . . . in time enjoyed all the writers particularly Mark the Rockies fan who could barely bring himself to enjoy his team’s magical run to the World Series and wrote the funniest and most perceptive American Idol recaps ever; and Bronx Banter where I chimed in as an enemy and was treated well anyhow”

    Bronx Banter is alive and well at a new location (see link in sidebar under “adventures in cowhide”) and Mark the Rockies fan is soldiering on at Big Western Flavor (see link in sidebar under “adventures in the wide weird world”).


  7. Stan the Man Unusual!


  8. Great layout over here. I’m impressed.


  9. “Great layout over here. I’m impressed.”

    Good to hear; I like it too. Ken Arneson deserves all the credit; he set things up and came up with the baseball-cardesque header.


  10. This card probably held me more spellbound than any other card when I saw it as a seven year old. The garish uniform, the All Star designation, the sunglasses, it seemed so foreign to the baseball I’d known up until then. Plus, in the true spirit of a god, Reggie seems to be looking at his bat like Thor looking at his hammer.

    I love that 1976 Topps series, I think they never did one better.


  11. Congratulations on the new stadium. The old one wasn’t bad, but at least you no longer have to share it, like the Jets and Giants still do.

    May you never run out of songs to play.


  12. BTW, Josh, apparently this is my WordPress username. It was for a blog that has yet to get off the ground. Ennui Willie Keeler didn’t survive the more from the Toaster.


  13. “Good to hear; I like it too. Ken Arneson deserves all the credit; he set things up and came up with the baseball-cardesque header.”

    That’s awesome that Ken helped you with the move. Now if only we could move the whole ex-toaster over to a convenient little corner of wordpress.


  14. “Ennui Willie Keeler didn’t survive”

    I figured that was you; it wouldn’t be Cardboard Gods without Ennui.


  15. Nice new place, Josh….complete with Fullpack quote. I must say that I miss having all of the individual Gods listed in the right margin. However, Long live Gardboard Cods!


  16. “I must say that I miss having all of the individual Gods listed in the right margin.”

    I was hoping you wouldn’t say that. I have been trying to convince myself I didn’t feel the same way, mainly because it’ll take a fairly big chunk of tedious work to get them all up there. But you’re right, it’s better when they’re all listed there, name by name. I’ll get ‘em up fairly soon.


  17. I just wanted to pop in and say “Yo!”

    Yo!

    That is my statement of Yo.


  18. I want to give credit to Alex Ciepley for the little jumping player in the Cardboard Gods logo. That’s something we worked on together many years ago, but we never actually used it. He was happy to see it finally find a home.

    Also, you can change your screen name in the comments. If you edit your profile, and save your First Name/Last Name/Nickname, you’ll get more options in the “Display name publicly as” drop-down list.


  19. Also, I’m wondering if the links on the sidebar aren’t a little too hard to read. Should I change the color?


  20. Interesting question about the color of the sidebar links. I didn’t have any particular problems reading them, but I’ve noticed before that I have different perceptions of color schemes than most people (I’m a little color blind). If you think they’re hard to read, I vote to change ‘em.


  21. change ‘em up Ken, keep making it better and better.

    And Ken … Thank You so much for everything that you have done – are doing – and will do to enhance the experience for all.


  22. Seriously Ken, thank you. You are like the Benjamin Franklin of intelligent baseball blogging.


  23. I vote for a color change, Ken.


  24. I changed the color. I think the normal link color is fine–I’m not sure if the visited link is bright enough though.


  25. The links look great. Thanks, Ken!


  26. Looks good.

    I’m a longtime reader, but I don’t know if I’ve ever commented before. Just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy the site.



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