Dear Dick Tidrow,
I hate your guts. I don’t hate your guts like I hate some guts. There are guts I hate more than your guts. The guts of your teammate Reggie, for example. God, how I hate his guts. Your guts, though, well, there really is something about your guts that I hate, and not just because of the pinstripes and the word in the lower left of your 1978 card. Some guts I hate out of duty, for example Roy White, who has guts that are pretty unhateable, but still, rules are rules, so consider his guts thoroughly hated, too. But you, well, years will pass, empires will rise and fall, puberty will arrive, giving way to a young adulthood spent stumbling backwards, eyes trained on the past, the young adulthood gradually eroding into just plain adulthood, the stumbling less pronounced, replaced in essence by a less readily perceptible but deeper, more existentially disorienting uncertainty, which brings us to now, to me, a middle-aged man writing a letter to a baseball card after spending last night realizing that the monthly bills have edged beyond the monthly income, and there’s a baby involved now, and I always thought as a child I’d just be able, worse comes to worse, to sell my baseball cards and in so doing become unutterably wealthy, free of care, but as everyone knows the value of baseball cards was an absurd mirage, and you, Dick Tidrow, are the valueless card I pull out of my shoebox this morning and your name resonates across the years in a way beyond that of most others, a name I’ll always associate with the Yankees, with the deep and focused professionalism that allowed that team to beat my team, a myth that shaped my world—there are winners and losers and the winners have a cohesive swarm of assassins like Dick Tidrow, fiercely adept role-players, while we losers have some bright spots but nothing that holds together in the end. Life is fun here and there but doesn’t work out. But there’s more, Dick Tidrow. I feel like your name, Dick Tidrow, is one of those upper echelon names in terms of being able to be used as a password to let someone know I know that he knows that I know that he knows that I know. Larry Gura is another. Biff Pocoroba. Jim Wohlford. There are more. You say the name and the name means my life and—if the name raises a flicker in your mind, a click like that of the flap of a pack of cards coming open—your life, too, our shared stupid life as 1970s boys with nothing better to do than fill our mouths with gum and our brains with names, Larry Gura and Jim Wohlford and Biff Pocoroba and Dick Tidrow. The name Dick Tidrow means nothing to most but it means to me this dumb losing life I hate and love.