What Is the Meaning of the 1978 Atlanta Braves? (card 23 of 25)
(continued from Joe Nolan)
This Rob Belloir card has been sitting face-up on my desk for days. I have turned it over a couple of times, but each time I’ve placed my thumb over the right-hand side of the back of the card to cover the “Play Ball” result. Today, when I’m done writing this post, I’ll turn it over again, this time without using my thumb to cover anything. There are five options for what the “Play Ball” result could mean for the battle between Love and Hate that has been playing out on this site for nearly three years.
1. The result could be yet another Rules explanation. This would be the most disappointing result of all. I have come to like this Rob Belloir card as it’s sat face-up on my desk for days, including the day that turned out to be one of the biggest blizzards of my lifetime, and I’m hoping his role in the game between Love and Hate is not completely insignificant.
2. The result could extend the game as it currently stands, Hate leading Love with two out in the bottom of the ninth. This means that Rob Belloir’s “Play Ball” result is either a Base On Balls, a Single, or a Double (the first two options would keep Hate’s lead at two runs, while the last option would cut the lead to one).
3. The result could tie the game. For this to happen, the result on the back of Rob Belloir’s card would have to be a Triple. A double could conceivably score a runner from first with two outs, and there was even some thought that the runner on first shouldn’t even be on first, since it’s not beyond the realm of possibility for the runners to have each moved up a base on the previous play, a fly out (which, as I imagined it, was to deep right field), but I don’t want Love’s victory, if it comes, to be blurred at the edges in the climactic moment by some kind of guiding, fouling human hand. For the game to be tied, it’s got to be a triple. This is probably the most unlikely result, triples being the beautiful rarities that they are.
4. The result could end the game dramatically with Love winning. The only way for this to occur would be for Rob Belloir’s “Play Ball” result to be a home run. This is also unlikely, though maybe a better bet than the triple, especially since it seems plausible that Topps spiked the “Play Ball” game with offensive fireworks to try to bolster interest in the game (which, as it turned out, few kids ever played).
5. The result could be a game-ending out. A strike out, a fly out, a ground out. If Topps made any reasonable attempt at verisimilitude, there’s over a 70% chance that this will be the case, and the game will end, and Hate will reign victorious.
Anyway, it has all come down to Rob Belloir, a turn of events that I like, or maybe even Love. Every once in a while I experience a recurring dream in which I find baseball cards of players from my youth who I somehow had never heard of. I got a flicker of that feeling when I first placed this Rob Belloir card face-up on my desk a few days ago. I have no memory of this guy, and for better or worse I’ve aimed most of the faltering resources in my memory at his habitat, 1970s baseball. Yet this habitat always finds ways to reveal itself as being more full of life than I imagined. Rob Belloir, born in Heidelberg, Germany. Rob Belloir, 8th-round draft pick of the Indians, then longtime traveler in the minors, including several years in San Antonio, where he appears to have settled down (it’s listed as his Home), his efforts interrupted by one numberless line in his statistics reading “In Military Service” (in 1971, during the downslope of the U.S. military involvement in the Vietnam War). Rob Belloir, little-used major leaguer, 166 career at-bats as of 1978 with a .211 average and no home runs. (But one career triple!) So whatever happens when I turn over this card, my world is a little more alive with Rob Belloir.
(Love versus Hate update: Rob Belloir’s back-of-the-card “Play Ball” result has been added to the ongoing contest.)