Ed HalickiApril 28, 2011
This dinged-up Ed Halicki card from 1976 seems to be a relic of a relative nobody. The photo on the front is a stiff, uninteresting posed shot, the actual human somehow less lifelike than the similar but decidedly jauntier pitcher icon in the lower left corner. On the back of the card, a 10 and 21 lifetime won-loss record is listed, as are a scattering of minor league stops. The number of the card in the set is 423, confirming that Ed Halicki is not one of the chosen few to have his card number end in a zero or two zeros. Most of all, there is no mention made of the no-hitter Ed Halicki notched the previous year. There would have been plenty of space to allude to this most glorious of single-game feats, given the meager space demands of Ed Halicki’s relatively short tenure in pro ball to that point, but the 1976 card set’s style of space-filling was to include a cartoon featuring general baseball info that had no relation to the player on the card. This particular card relayed the yawn-inducing news that Dick Wakefield was “baseball’s first ‘bonus baby.’” (The cartoon is of a player with a bat over one shoulder and on the other shoulder a big sack with a dollar sign on it.) The 1976 use of random cartoons contributed to a general indistinct flatness in the cards that year, a year, now that I think about it, that has always seemed sort of flat and overcast to me, like the 1976 cards. That year the cards were still my primary way of following baseball, though my brother’s new subscription to Sports Illustrated had begun to bring more of the daily world of the game into my life. He’d started getting the magazine the year before, but I didn’t read every word of the magazine until later, and so I missed the report of Ed Halicki’s no-hitter, which was heralded not in an article all its own but instead confined to a weekly major league wrapup and within that wrapup to a clause at the end of a sentence about something else in the middle of a paragraph that began with this apparently more urgent news: “San Francisco leads the majors in snuff users (14), permanents (eight) and, now that Catchers Dave Rader and Mike Sadek have come clean, in Telly Savalas-type skullheads (three, Dave Heaverlo being the other).” So I missed that there was greatness in this Ed Halicki card. It was the card among all past and future Ed Halicki cards that should have been most aglow with the recent no-hitter, and yet I likely did not give it a second glance. I must have handled it some, however. The upper left corner seems to have fared the worst during this object’s almost completely unnoticed passage through time. The card is also a bit off-center, the right bordering thicker than the bordering along the left-hand side. There are faint scratch marks across the face of the card, as if it has scraped up against an abrasive surface. The most visible scratch bisects Ed Halicki’s cap on a slightly bent diagonal. Ed Halicki, despite this neglect, went on after the no-hitter to do pretty well for a little while, winning 14 games in 1977 posting a career-best 2.85 ERA in 1978 to help the Giants contend improbably for the NL West crown. He finished up his career two seasons later, with the Angels, his lifetime won-loss record halting at 55-66. Of the 29 no-hitters thrown in the 1970s era of permanents and Telly Savalas, Ed Halicki would be the no-hit author of the decade to finish his career with the fewest lifetime wins. In a way, considering the relative anonymity of the rest of his career, his no-hitter should have stood out more than any other that occurred during the 1970s, and now I wish I’d known about it at the time. I would have loved this card.