Carmen Fanzone, Part 1

October 16, 2006

For a long time, these cards lived in a box in a storage facility out by a golf course in Randolph, Vermont, jammed in among broken furniture, garbage bags full of faded clothing, disintegrating books, the rolled-up canvasses of my mother’s oil paintings, tarnished silverware, etc., etc. The house I’d grown up in with my brother, mother, and mother’s longtime boyfriend, my second father, Tom, had been sold and replaced by several small, separate, temporary living spaces inhabited by my scattered family: Tom’s condo by a manmade waterfall in Montpelier, Mom’s apartment within earshot of shootings in one section of Brooklyn, the apartment I shared with my brother in another section of Brooklyn that constantly trembled because of its proximity to traffic on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, my dad’s tiny monk-cell in Manhattan. Nobody had an attic and nobody had the heart to just throw away all the not quite necessary shit from that previous life of living like people on television, together in a house. But nothing lasts forever, not even the occupation of storage facilities. My mom and I cleared everything out one summer in the mid-’90s when she took a temporary job at a museum in Ohio. I took the baseball cards back to New York and was looking through them and showing select cards to my brother. When I showed him this card his reaction summed up the strange and unexpected feeling of disconnection from the cards, as if the iconic images of my youth had somehow been erased like the vanishing scribblings on a shaken Etch-a-Sketch. Where was my childhood? Who were these imposters? When my brother finally stopped laughing at the man in this photograph, he declared: “There was never no fucking Carmen Fanzone!”


  1. 1.  Two things about Fanzone…

    1) Despite having a brief and seemingly unremarkable career, he is still fondly and widely remembered by Cubs fans. Not for his baseball skills but for playing the national anthem on his trumpet at Wrigley Field. Fanzone was an accomplished jazz musician, playing professionally in the offseason.

    2) I wonder how many people that collect cards now habitually associate two players because they looked so similar, as you did with Swan and Fanzone? Personally, I will always link Mike LaValliere with LaMarr Hoyt, not for their Laprefixed names but because they look identical on certain cards…


    I can’t find an online image of Hoyt’s ’87 Topps card but I’m pretty sure he looks LaValliere’s twin brother on it.

  2. Tending bar in Brooklyn last night, a young kid hands me his credit card with the name “Carmen Fanzone” on it. Well, after I stop giggling, I have to ask: ever heard of the ballplayer with that name. Sure enough, it’s his uncle. Can’t believe I’ve ever heard of him (I have the ’75 card) and asks if I’m Chicago. Nope, just collected cards in the 70s and read this blog. He was able to provide some details: Yes, it’s true, Carmen was a jazz trumpeter and apparently still gigs. Hard to believe he could raise a trumpet to his lips with that giant cookie duster perched there, but apparently he’s got chops. CF’s nephew, sadly, lacks facial hair–you’d think the Fanzones would require all generations to grow hair on their upper lips and keep up this monumental tribute to moustaches alive for all to admire. Seeing a real Fanzone in the flesh also dispels my pet theory: that Carmen Fanzone was really Don Novello engaged in some subversive performance art. Well not much more to add, so if you’re keeping score, remember: there are now at least 2 Carmen Fanzones walking this planet. I salute them.

  3. Oh, that is beautiful. Thanks for passing that story along, agrumpus1.

    And your (debunked) theory was my theory, too:

  4. Carmen Fanzone was in the news this week, sort of:


  5. That’s great. Thanks for sharing that link.

  6. I think the local pizza maker man snuck in and got his pic taken instead….not sure anyone has seen the real Carmen Fanzone

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