Archive for the ‘Bill Hands’ Category

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Bill Hands (correction)

November 19, 2006

In the last post I claimed the ’75 Bill Hands that I was never able to acquire was the last Bill Hands card ever produced. I wasn’t sure about this but I figured I’d just say it anyway. Turns out I was wrong, and here’s the proof, a 1976 Bill Hands. I also claimed that the guy Bill Hands was traded for, George Stone, didn’t have a 1976 card, but he did. I don’t have the 1976 George Stone card, but I see the name next to a blank box on the Mets’ 1976 team card checklist.

I know all this now because yesterday I turned a corner in my ongoing departure from sanity by taking several hours to sort my entire scrambled collection back into teams, in part so I could begin to investigate the veracity of claims such as that George Stone and Bill Hands, who by then had both played their last major league games, did not have 1976 cards ghosting their respective vanishings. My wife, who as a very young child once organized her grandma’s sprawling “miscellaneous” drawer into neat piles of paperclips and rubber bands, helped me sort for a few minutes before losing interest. When she later saw me sorting the cards of individual teams into different years, she withheld comment, but when still later she looked up from her social-work textbook and saw me subjecting cards for an individual team and individual year to even more sorting, she fixed me with an incredulous stare.

“Are you putting those into alphabetical order?”

“What? No. Of course not,” I said. I forced out a snort of laughter meant to sound dismissive. “Please.”

“Mm hm,” she said. She’d already turned back to her book.

Anyway, I don’t know how I didn’t remember this card. It must have made an impression when I found it in a pack. Finally, I’d acquired a Bill Hands, but it was the wrong Bill Hands, a year too late.

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Bill Hands

November 17, 2006

Here’s the closest I ever got to Cardboard God nirvana. In 1975, my first year of baseball card obsession, I nearly gathered every player for an entire team. From Bibby, Jim to Tovar, Cesar, I slowly but steadily accrued every Texas Ranger except one.

Topps card number 412. Hands, Bill/P

My brother owned this card. I can’t remember clearly, but he may have even had doubles. However, it was not at all customary to simply hand over surplus cards. I understood this and was in a strange way even glad about it. The game had rules, and rules helped create a world with meaning. He proposed to trade me Bill Hands for my one and only 1975 Carl Yastrzemski. I was tempted, but somehow even at age seven I knew that if I made such a deal I’d feel as if I’d been punched in the stomach for months afterward.

I gripped tight to Yaz and decided to take my chances with the random gatherings within each new pack of cards. Probably the first time I ever prayed was in my silent pack-opening pleas for Bill Hands. Bill Hands never did show up, obviously. At some point I did get doubles of Yaz but by then my brother had Yaz, too, so that deal was no longer on the table. Eventually the general store in town stopped carrying the 1975 cards.

Hands, a former 20-game winner, went 6–7 for the Rangers that year and was traded in the offseason to the Mets for George Stone. Neither he nor Stone ever appeared in another major league game or on another baseball card. Many years later my brother sold his Bill Hands or Bill Handses along with all his other cards for money to buy a used pair of downhill skis. He was in his mid-twenties, broke, fleeing the wreckage of a failed relationship. He staved off starvation by getting a job selling lift tickets at a ski area and in his off hours either partied with others in the migrant ski area work force or flung himself at great speeds down the mountain on his baseball card skis.

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