Joe Nolan

February 1, 2011

What Is the Meaning of the 1978 Atlanta Braves? (card 22 of 25)

(continued from Eddie Solomon)

Joe Nolan’s many years of middling minor league numbers fill up the majority of the back of this card. Sprinkled into those numbers are three slim major league entries, a cup of coffee with the Mets in 1972, a cup of coffee with the Braves in 1975, and a full major league season, his first, with the Braves in 1977. There’s still a bit of space below the major and minor league numbers, and this is filled with the following text: “Joe was Braves’ leading lefty pinchhitter in 1977. Gets good wood on ball.”

The picture on the front of the card seems to reflect Joe Nolan’s contentment at finding a place in the world, a useful role. He’s the leading lefty pinch-hitter. He gets good wood on ball.

So it’s fitting that the other significant piece of content on the back of his card is the “Play Ball” result of the pinch-hitter for Love against Hate in the game that’s been playing out on this site for nearly three years and that is finally nearing its conclusion. Two men are on, with one out and Love down by two.

There are no aesthetic details provided in the “Play Ball” game, just the result as you would see it written in a scorecard. We have to imagine the moment. I see this: The pinch-hitter connects and lifts one high and deep into the outfield. The right-fielder sprints back toward the wall. The pinch-hitter is known for getting good wood on ball. Did he get enough?


(Love versus Hate update: Joe Nolan’s back-of-the-card “Play Ball” result has been added to the ongoing contest.)


  1. I can’t believe it’s actually come down to the tying runs on base with two out in the bottom of the ninth!

    That podcast I did of the early innings is gone forever, I think, as that site I used changed their whole format. I’ll have to do a new one of the entire game once it finishes. But that could be a while, as I smell extra innings….

  2. I envision Joe Nolan’s fly out as one of those towering fly balls that brings the crowd to its feet in anticipation of a frenzied celebration — only to be caught at the back of the warning track by a relieved outfielder.

    Are you sure the runners didn’t advance to 2nd and 3rd on that long fly ball, Josh?

  3. The Braves acquired him from The Mets for the recently profiled Leo Foster.

  4. “Are you sure the runners didn’t advance to 2nd and 3rd on that long fly ball, Josh?”

    That’s a fair point, dbrazeal. It’d be big if the tying run got to second. Then again, I think it’s relatively rare for a runner to advance from first to second on a flyout, even a deep one, especially if the runner would be risking making the last out of the game on the basepaths. I can be swayed either way on that point if anyone else wants to chime in.

  5. If the back of Buzz Capra’s card reads, “Has blazing speed,” or even, “Is not too slow, for a pitcher,” I say you let him advance.

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