Dick Bosman

January 9, 2007
Here is a sepulchral Dick Bosman on the brink of the last of 11 years in the major leagues. The year before, after toiling for several years on cellar-dwellers, Bosman had been traded to the reigning three-time World Champion Oakland A’s, who promptly relinquished their hold on league supremacy. It would perhaps make a better story if Dick Bosman had played a significant role in the A’s fall, as if he’d become some kind of carrier of the virus of defeat from all his years with the Senators, Rangers, and Indians, but in fact he performed well for the division-winning A’s throughout the 1975 regular season, going 11 and 4, and he was an insignificant factor in their playoff defeat at the hands of the Boston Red Sox. His third of an inning pitched in the 1975 playoffs turned out to be a harbinger of things to come, a fact perhaps sensed on some level by Dick Bosman as he posed forlornly for this picture. After this card was shipped, the insignificance of Dick Bosman grew, the former ERA champ and no-hitter hurler reduced to spot-starting and mopup duty for the slowly sinking former champs.

And here is Dick Bosman the following spring, on the brink of a life beyond baseball. He has of course grown a mustache and permed his hair. He stares directly at the viewer instead of, as in the previous year, off into some nauseatingly empty expanse, but there is something in the permed stare that has a hint of the fragility that accompanies the desperate uttering of self-help mantras. Also, there is the placement of the glove. Where the year before Dick Bosman had held his glove to his gut as if stoically applying pressure to a wound, now Dick Bosman is holding his glove up in a defensive posture, betraying his knowledge that all of his pitches, even hypothetical ones in the presence of a Topps photographer, are going to be hammered, possibly right back in the direction of the new and improved Dick Bosman, who was cast out of the world of the Cardboard Gods by the A’s on March 29, 1977, presumably before even a single strand of his new artificially curled hair had had a chance to wilt. 


  1. 1.  2 comments from the old CG site:

    Pete Millerman said…
    Back when I was a kid, a no-hitter was big. The connotation was mythic and inspiring. A timeless halo of towering supernatural achievement accompanied the feat, more or less.

    Case in point: when confronted with a contraption at my elementary school’s spring fair that made buttons out of any old piece of paper or cardboard, I stepped right up and created an Ed Halicki button. I had bought a pack of cards that day… there were a couple of fringe-y Mets along the Mike Phillips trajectory…some lesser lights on the border of stardom – a Dennis Eckersley say, or a Steve Foucault… But in deference to the super-human Giants junkballer who had No-Hit the Mets the previous August, I sported an Ed Halicki button for an entire weekend.

    This sense of childlike awe that came part and parcel with the hurlers who had thrown a no-hitter explains, perhaps, my enduring respect for the Forsch brothers, or my wondering why Steve Busby is not on the road to the Hall of Fame.

    As time has moved forward with alarming velocity, the mere fact that no New York Met has ever, ever completed a no-hitter has weighed heavily upon my psyche. The no-hit fleece has grown only more golden and tantalizing through the years. Dates, jobs, dinners, family gatherings have all been callously interrupted and ruined by my sprinting off to the nearest saloon upon hearing word that, say, David Cone had not allowed a Padre to reach base after six innings…

    Dick Bosman’s star rose from that ash heap of the lower rungs of AL East-dom when, at my baseball-crazed summer day-camp, news filtered down that Bosman had somehow No-Hit the World Champion Oakland Athletics(!) one afternoon on the sweltering shores of Lake Erie – thus affording him, in my eyes at least, a legitimacy that bordered on the immortal.

    Anyhow, there are but two postscripts to this allegory, offering, of course, a ubiquitous and expected near-Sophoclean twist of irony to gild the proceedings.

    The first being that Dick Bosman was dealt the next season to an Oakland team that, as has been noted, was already in the early stages of an unseemly decline of epic proportions. Traded, in fact, for the consumate “A’s ‘A’,” long-standing franchise staple Blue Moon Odom, who had, himself, valiantly pitched 3.2 innings of scoreless relief for Oakland the day that Bosman No-Hit them.

    Odom would revisit his old digs by the bay the very next year following the trade, combining with the late Fransisco Barrios to No-Hit Bosman’s Oakland team, (then in the process of missing the playoffs for the first time in half-a-decade), and earning the final victory of his lengthy career, going out in a Blue-Mooned haze of glory.

    The other item of note is the small piece of business that Bosman’s no-hitter could have very well been only the second AL regular season Perfect Game in the preceding 52 years, had he not personally botched the throw to first base on a weakly hit Sal Bando dribbler in the fourth inning.

    At that juncture of my youthful, impressionable stage of fandom, the idea of a pitcher throwing a Perfect Game was something out of legend. Akin maybe to dragons roaming the earth, or the Hoover Administration. It was something I had never experienced happening in baseball. It would have been bigger than big.

    Whether Bosman spent his his remaining summers wandering the earth in tortured lament following his spring training release from a cellar-bound Oakland team that finished 38-and-a-half games out of first place (and featured a pair of 19-game losers alongside such luminaries as Jim Umbarger and Pablo Torrealba in the starting rotation) is probably information best left between himself and Zeus.

    All I know for sure is that back in the mid-70’s, back in my childhood, there was certainly a throne and footstool for Dick Bosman, albeit briefly, somewhere in a Cardboard Olympian realm…

    5:35 PM

    Michael said…
    This is so f^&king good I can hardly stand it.

    Please tell me you’re going to publish.

    9:56 AM

  2. 2.  Two more players for the All-Oakland Coliseum Backdrop Team, and this time they’re actually A’s players.

  3. The two cards can be compared to the evolution of Mike Brady’s hairdo.

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