This is the last of a few Tom Hilgendorf cards of negligible worth. He was cut by the Phillies the year it came out, right around when the team broke camp. It’s something of a mystery why this cut was made, as Hilgendorf had done well the previous season, posting a 2.14 ERA in 96 innings of work. Maybe the Phillies felt they had enough left-handed pitching, with newly acquired Jim Kaat joining Steve Carlton and Tom Underwood in the rotation and Tug McGraw anchoring the bullpen. Or maybe Hilgendorf just lost it that spring. Maybe he just couldn’t get anybody out all of a sudden.
I couldn’t get out of bed this morning. When my alarm clock went off my first conscious feeling was shame. Vague, general shame. The day before had been a waste, yet again.
I’m now older than all but a handful of current major leaguers, yet on some level I still think of myself as the kid and the players as the adults. It’s becoming less this way as the years go by, however. While cheering on the Red Sox this past season I understood that it made all the sense in the world that Jonathan Papelbon, for example, was not even born when I played my last little league game. Where I find it more difficult is when I look at these cards and realize these examples of adulthood are all younger than I am now. These were always the adults. I understand how I can be older than a kid who Riverdances all over the infield in his red underwear, but how can I be older than the Cardboard Gods? At the time of this picture, Tom Hilgendorf–frumpy, expendable Tom Hilgendorf–was several years younger than I am now.
My alarm clock is tuned to the sports radio station. I start every day with the sounds of Mike shouting at Mike, or vice versa. This morning I turned off the alarm clock and lay there in the dark. I wish I could build a fort out of couch cushions and stay there forever. Eventually I got up and fed the cats and shoved food down me and made a sandwich and walked up Western Avenue in the drizzle and bought a newspaper to get some tips on filling out my NCAA bracket and heard the elevated train coming as I passed through the turnstile and bounded up the concrete steps two at a time and made it in just before the doors closed and sat there breathing hard and sweating and made it to work on time.