July 7, 2010

Well, it was bound to happen. If Twilight Zone marathons have taught me anything, it’s that you may eventually become trapped inside your escapist obsessions. The episode with that theme that springs most readily to mind is the long one called “Miniature,” starring a young Robert Duvall as a hermetic cipher named Charlie who is pathologically and detrimentally fascinated with a doll house in a museum. Charlie seeps further and further into his obsession until there is a point of no return. Likewise, it would seem that I have been enough of a hermetic cipher while simultaneoulsy imposing my past and my fantasies on baseball cards to actually have been transmogrified into a weathered, frozen, two-dimensional realm.

But, apparently, this doesn’t bother me so much. As can be seen here, mostly from my body language and the positioning of my giant and disquietingly wrinkly hands, my baseball card persona is of the “Ah, whaddaya gonna do?” frame of mind about the necessary limitations of life.

Still, it’s a little disturbing to think I might have left the actual world behind for a thinned-out cardboard version of it. Maybe what I need is a little break. At any rate, I’ll be taking a break from baseball cards for a couple weeks, partly to make sure I am still a member of the world beyond my shoebox (but also because I have to finish up another writing project).

If you have access to WGN (it’s a Chicago station but I think it might be on cable elsewhere), you might be able to help affirm that I exist beyond a baseball card: I’m scheduled to appear on the WGN midday news today (around 11:35 a.m. central). [Update: you can now view the interview on this page on the WGN website.] Also, this Saturday, July 10, I’ll be talking about my book and signing copies at The Book Stall in Winnetka, Illinois.

While I’m away from the cards for a couple weeks, please feel free to dig through the archives. There are a lot of old cards there, and they all need love.

(Thanks to Baseball Reliquarian and documentary filmmaker Jon Leonoudakis for the baseball card alchemy at the top of this page.)


  1. This card is hysterical. Love the uniform complete with jacket and amusing pose reminiscent of Gil Hodges (or Yogi?). Hands gesturing in midair, mouth closed, as you’ve just finished making your point, no further words necessary. very cool and so funny.


  2. You’re getting warm with Mets managers, warmer still with the Yogi guess.

    Here’s the actual card, minus my face, featured in a post on The Great 1965 Topps Experiment blog:


  3. My first thought was that you looked like you had Casey’s body and posture. Then I realized you literally had his body and posture.

    I get WGN in Los Angeles, but I’m at work during the mid-day news. Doesn’t it start at noon central?

  4. I think WGN midday news goes on for a couple hours (11-1). There should be a link to the interview up on their site pretty soon.

  5. duh Casey of course, what was I thinking – love both versions of the card. thanks!

  6. Nice job. What a perky host!

  7. Sweet! That’s what you eventually look like from watching Bruce Boisclair play all day.

  8. Terrific interview, Josh. The host was a little too perky, but at least you could tell she read the book!

  9. How about a guest blogger writing a piece inspired by your card?

  10. Tickled by the completely distinct messages conveyed by your head and Casey Stengel’s head, atop that torso.

    » “The Old Perfessor” — In exactly the mode the nickname conjures: old guy who’s forgotten more baseball than any mere mortal can absorb in a lifetime, entire mien (peering into the distance, casually draped on a bench, legs crossed and “‘splainin’ hands” deployed) suggesting that he’s effortlessly tossing out pearls of wisdom about the game, the meaning of life, everything.

    » You — Exactly as you put it: “Ah, whaddaya gonna do?”

    My brother, interviewed at length on TV. I knew I’d see this day come, no foolin’!

  11. speaking of casey stengel and “miniature,” which is a kinda creepy, more subdued “twilight zone” episode, i was at the new mets hall of fame at citifield yesterday and they have a miniature statue of the ol’ perfessor there, about two feet high. it’s kinda creepy in its own way.

  12. You are the third Met to wear glasses. Roy McMillan and George “The Stork” Theodore being the first 2.

  13. “Miniature…” Whoah…Very creepy episode.
    Not only was it one of the hour-long ones, which were rare, but I read that it was taken out of the syndication package for years, until it reappeared in a couple of the marathons that they show on cable sometimes. That’s where I finally caught it.

    Roy and the “Stork” are indeed myopically immortal, but the Mets actually have a bit of an illustrious legacy when it comes to welcoming players with eyeglasses. Being a hellaciously near-sighted child, I paid close attention to any potential sports role models out there, from Alfred Lutter’s “Ogivlie” in the Bad News Bears films to actual players on my favorite team.

    Seriously, growing up in the ’70s it seems – looking back – to have been a much rougher time then in many ways. A kid who wore glasses, at least in NYC where I grew up, and I imagine anywhere, would – at best – get teased and called “four-eyes.” At worst, glasses would present the most readily available of invitations to get beaten up, perhaps regularly. At the very, very least, it was patently obvious in the harsher, earlier climate of that era that anyone who wore glasses was obviously A Sissy.

    Anyway, I’m not going to delve into the various coping strategies and defense mechanisms that seem best shared with a significant other or therapist…Josh, I know you understand exactly what I am talking about.

    Suffice to say… if you were a kid who wore glasses, and didn’t happen to enjoy fist-fighting on a protracted basis, you probably developed a cutting sense of humor, and learned to think on your feet and react quickly. (My own narrative includes a brief flirtation with a summer sleep-away camp created specifically for children who wore eyeglasses, although that was forsaken in favor of a brutal inter-faith “survival” camp deep in the woods where we lived in tents and cooked our own food over a fire for eight weeks. I was shipped there for seven years…)

    I think most of us who grew up needing corrective lenses in that primitive epoch of expanding American consciousness would agree that it contributed greatly to forming and developing our personalities.

    – But anyway… yeah, The Mets had a real tradition going there.
    Glasses were definitely rare, but still…There were Rich Folkers, and Ron Herbel, ineffective professorial relievers.. There was Tim Foli, who looked nerdy and enjoyed losing his temper.. There was bespectacled African-American backstop Ike Hampton, who always appeared in the “prospects” section toward the back of each season’s yearbook…

    Later on they had Paul Gibson and Manager Jeff Torborg (bleh…)…Third-base coach Cookie Rojas… Catcher Jason Phillips (still one of my all-time favorites), Chuck McElroy, Jeff McKnight, Duaner Sanchez, Jay Bell…Dang! I know I’m forgetting some… but there were a good number.

    In retrospect, it also seems that for the position of “interim manager” eyeglasses were a pre-requisite. (Roy McMillan, Frank Howard, Mike Cubbage, and interim-gone-perma-skipper Jerry Manuel.)

    But, yeah, I guess George “Stork” Theodore was the coolest of all of them.
    He was sort of in that vanguard of early-70’s evolution where glasses became sort of counter-culturally acceptable. (Sports of course following music by a good half-dozen years, like it usually does, as Lennon, McGuinn, Garcia and others came out as eyeglass-wearers in the late ’60s.)

    If I remember correctly Theodore was also into macrobiotics and astrology and talked about owning a water-bed once during a rain delay. Too bad he wasn’t all that good on the field. He was sort of a trailblazer in a clubhouse where huge afros and facial hair would be the norm only a couple of years later…

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: