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Don DeMola

August 3, 2010

In 1970, at the age of seventeen, Don DeMola won the Carl Yastrzemski award, given to the best high school baseball player in Suffolk County, Long Island. The Yankees drafted him and shipped him to their Rookie League farm club in Johnson City, Tennessee, the first of three minor league stops in two years before the Yankees released him in April of 1972. This 1975 card doesn’t offer any reasons for this decision, which is illustrated by the use in the 1972 line in DeMola’s career major and minor league record by the always mysterious stat-less listing: Not In Organized Ball. 

It took exactly nine months beyond the reach of numbers, like some kind of second embryonic passage, before Don was signed in January 1973 by the Montreal Expos. Back among the organized, Don sped up through the Expos system and within a couple years reached the big leagues and made it onto a baseball card, this 1975 offering, his first and second-to-last cardboard incarnation, which references Don’s rare skill: “Don’s best pitch is a fastball which ‘smokes.’” His minor and major league strikeout totals, which in most years hovered near the elite one-strikeout-per-inning mark, also attest to the wonders inside the seemingly normal arm he holds out toward the viewer on the front of the card. His small smile and the reaching arm ending in a loose fist make Don DeMola seem like a friendly, generous guy, someone who wants to share a handful of M&Ms with you.

Others among the upper echelon of smoke-throwers do not generally give off such an approachable aura, but Don DeMola seemed like somebody who wouldn’t mind if you just called him up one day to chat. This approachability, if it ever was fiction and not fact, has become a reality in the present, at least in terms of Don DeMola’s online presence. On Don DeMola’s website, you can contact Don, who proudly identifies himself as a Montreal Expos pitcher, to receive baseball skills instruction. Also, if you live in Suffolk County, you can have Don come over to your house to install an entertainment system. And that’s not all. When arm trouble curtailed Don’s career as a flamethrowing major leaguer, Don went into the fur business, and this facet of his life is also represented on his website in the form of an offer by Don to get you up to speed on the most effective strategies in the fur-buying and fur-care game. Finally, Don offers tips on how to get rich and live your dream life. “I’d like to share a few secrets with you,” Don says. “Simple truths that have helped many people create a life of wealth, freedom and abundance.”

23 comments

  1. I am not sure if he is trying to show a fastball grip but the card on his own site is fairly similar although he could getting in a stance to wrestle a bear. I am sure Coca-Cola loved the free advertising in the background to be on such a prominent baseball card. I also think those Montreal uniforms were one of the best of that era, an nice crisp look for the 70s.


  2. Yeah, I like the juxtaposition of the eminently recognizable Coke ad with the other ad on the other side of DeMola. What do you suppose is being hawked in that “in the . . . to keep” billboard?


  3. Interesting, I see 1975 Steve Renko is in a similar pose (the guess what is in my right hand pose) with the last part of the coca cola sign showing.

    I’d like to see all the 1975 expos cards on one page so we can piece together all the ads.

    I actually thought the ‘To Keep’ was a warning not an ad. You know like that warning you used to see ‘No Pepper Allowed in this area’. Something like ‘Pay attention in the bullpen to keep our pitchers safe’


  4. Figured out how to comment again, Is that Parc Jarry (Or as referred to a book I read at the time Jarry Park?)

    I just dropped in to say that I finally bought the book. I’m laughing my way up to Rick Miller so far.


  5. FWIW – Ernie McNally is also has the coca cola sign in the background.
    If you lay out all 3 cards, DeMola, McNally, Renko, left to right, it is almost as if the photographer had them all line up in their classic poses. The photographer being the pivot point. Ten seconds, 3 shots and the photographer decided to move to the infield to take pictures of the real stars, Pepe Frias and Larry Lintz :)

    I think those shots were taken at spring training. You can see a palm tree in the Ernie McNally card.


  6. Jon: Thanks for dropping in and big thanks for getting the book! Hope the laughs keep coming.

    fredbeene: I’ve got a ’75 Tom Walker that also has the Coke sign in the background, though it’s farther away. No shots of that other “TO KEEP” sign anywhere. And those definitely are spring training shots.


  7. Two thoughts: 1. My college roomie was in a secret organization called Demolay. He said that if I was ever in trouble, I just had to cross my arms over my chest, bow my head, and say “I am a Demolay” and anyone in the organization would have to help me. I have never actually tried this, but I do have this going for me if I get into a real bind. 2. I knew Steve Renko in college, and he would never have shared his M and M’s with anyone-except maybe a really hot chick.


  8. I looked up that DeMolay thing–it’s like Stonecutter shit! aka Free Masons or whatever. Pete Rose, Red Barber, and Bill Clinton are all in the DeMolay Hall of Fame. From some site about it:

    “M.C.: The sign of distress is made by crossing the arms across the chest and should be given only in time of distress.

    J.D. illustrates sign of distress.

    M.C.: The Brother going to the aid of a Brother in need should say, “Are you in trouble?”

    S.D.: Are you in trouble?

    M.C.: The Brother should reply, “I am a DeMolay.”

    J.D.: I am a DeMolay.

    J.D. drops sign of distress.”


  9. Wow, I hope he’s not an Amway salesman now.


  10. Ha! When I saw the entry my first thought was “hey, like DeMolay!” I realize I first heard about DeMolay from a Mothers of Invention song, “Status Back Baby” from Absolutely Free (a great album, by the way). Here’s Zappa’s lyric:

    http://globalia.net/donlope/fz/lyrics/Absolutely_Free.html#Status


  11. What’s interesting about the Carl Yastrzemski Award is that Craig Biggio *didn’t* win it!

    Also, that 1993 winner must have had a rough time as a kid.


  12. I find it fascinating that 2 of the first 6 Yastrzemski winners, including DeMola, attended my alma mater, Commack High School. In my time there, the baseball team (which I was not a member of) was a bit of a joke. It’s comforting to learn that it wasn’t always that way.


  13. I’m not familiar with that DeMolay thing. Interesting.

    blankemon: I think the 1993 listing is a cruel typo–unless both “Billy Kock” and future major leaguer Billy Koch were both playing high school ball on Long Island at the same time.

    I wonder whatever became of the 1979 winner of the Yaz award…


  14. The expos played spring training at Jackie Robinson Ballpark in Daytona Fla.
    I tried, but could not find any pictures of the ballpark from 1975.

    Google Images is very frustrating to me. Putting in Jackie Robinson Ballpark Daytona Florida 1975 brings up everything but the ballpark. Why caldwell jones and art garfunkel pictures pop up i will never understand.

    Josh, look closer at Tom Walker card. You can see more of the ‘to keep’ sign but the words are blurry. I thought the area behind that small green fence was the bullpen. But Tom’s cards implies the bullpen may have warmed up in the foul ground area off the left field line

    The green border appears padded in the cards. However, I did see one recent shot where currently fans sit 2 folding chairs behind the fence. From another angle it looks like a chain link fence
    http://www.littleballparks.com/Stadium/2001/Daytona_Beach/Daytona.htm

    The historic ballpark opened on June 4, 1914 as the Daytona City Island Ballpark. It consisted of a baseball field and set of wooden bleachers. In the 1920’s, a road circling the ballpark was built to accommodate the growing number of spectators who were traveling to the ballpark by automobile. A grandstand with a press box was built behind home plate to replace the original wooden bleachers along with two additional covered sections of grandstands along the first base line. A bleacher section along the third base line was added shortly after the first renovation in the 1950’s. The present day grandstand and press box were built in 1962. A home team clubhouse was constructed down the left field line in 1972 to accommodate the Montreal Expos. In 1973 left field bleachers, with a capacity of 2,500 seats, were installed. The park was renamed Jackie Robinson Ballpark in 1989 as the stadium served as host to the first racially integrated game in baseball history. The visitor’s clubhouse down the right field line was then built in 1993 to comply with Minor League Baseball regulations. The Budweiser Bullpen was unveiled at the 2007 All-Star game which was hosted at the ballpark.


  15. So, a 58-year old former relief pitcher and fur-care consultant and (occasional?) Fios installer wants to tell me how to “create a life of wealth, freedom and abundance”? To quote Don Mossi, “I’m all ears!”


  16. The sign: Maybe something like…

    “Any foul balls in the stands are yours to keep…”


  17. I’ve never seen a player put less effort into a pose (propping himself up by putting his glove hand on his knee?) I’m not seeking life’s secrets from this guy!


  18. It’s pretty impressive that at a quick glance at the Yaz award winners, I see a minimum of six guys who saw major league action along with an NFL MVP. By the way, Biggio is my second cousin.


  19. RE: Sign gedmaniac
    I think you got it!!!
    This is like playing the game of concentration. That probably is an S from yours that is partially showing.

    Doing some research it appears that phrase is used in minor league parks

    Example:
    Foul balls hit into the stands are yours to keep, courtesy of Spalding, the UIL and the Round Rock Express. Keep a heads up and please stay alert at all times.
    Example2:
    Foul Balls
    During all Rawhide home games, any foul balls that are hit into the stands are yours to keep. BE ALERT at all times, as we have balls and bats hit and/or thrown into the seating sections throughout our games. Absolutely, NO ONE is allowed on the playing field at anytime, not even to retrieve a foul ball.
    Example3:
    All balls batted or thrown into the stands are yours to keep as souvenirs, but be alert at all times. Do not chase foul balls in the stands or on the concourse. All types of nets used to catch foul balls are prohibited in Harbor Park.


  20. The pose:
    Looks to me like DeMola is about to give the ‘pull my finger’ trick.


  21. Please Remain In The Stands To Keep From Interfering With Play

    I’m not 100% sure, but I’m willing to bet it is something similar to that.
    Many of the old spring training sites were no more than glorified high school fields. Everything wasn’t partitioned off. A fan could walk out of the bleachers and be right on the field, or at least in foul territory.
    In this case, it looks like a partition has been added, but the sign remained.


  22. Get a hold of Don Stanhouse. He was an Expo in ’75. He might remember something.


  23. re the sign: I vote for “Spread garlic in the stands to keep vampires away”.

    re DeMoLay: I think there should be a similar protocol for readers of this blog. How about
    1) Display sign of distress by extending pitching arm with hand forming a loose fist
    2) Wait for cardboardgods reader to approach asking “Are you in trouble?”
    3) Reply “Don DeMola just connected by FiOS and left me this chinchilla stole. Here, have an M&M.”
    4) Drop sign of distress.



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