As can be seen from his troubled expression, Rich Dauer, the epitome of the quiet, steady, reliable middle infielder, has surrendered himself, albeit reluctantly, to a dialogue with the ever-cheerful and vaguely racist cartoon representation of an Oriole on his cap. The conversation, largely a monologue aimed at Dauer in the approximate voice of Scatman Crothers, most likely began in 1976, when Dauer was first summoned to the major leagues after blitzing the triple-A Independent League with a .336 average. The hits stopped coming in the majors, evidenced by a .103 average during the September call-up, and Dauer, influenced by a lonely late night hotel room viewing of a twilight-era Flintstones episode featuring the execrable Gazoo, attempted to laugh in the face of the widening void by gazing at his scarily bright and new big-league cap and briefly imagining that he too had a little friend that only he could see. “Don’t you worry none there, boss,” Rich Dauer mumbled, using his hands to make the beak of the Oriole move. “You’ll gets them tomorrow, plain as de sun gone rise in de west.” Unfortunately, when you start telling jokes to yourself, it’s over. Somewhere during the next season, his first full summer of authoring soft popups and dribblers in the majors, Dauer, a former number 1 draft choice, a former big star in high school, college, and the minor leagues, relinquished the reigns on the voice. In this photo, taken in the spring after that first full season, Dauer appears to be on the brink of breaking under the weight of the Oriole’s exhortations, which are so unrelentingly cheery that they have begun to reveal within them the bleak sharp seed of mockery.