Dick Tidrow

March 26, 2012

Dear Dick Tidrow,

I hate your guts. I don’t hate your guts like I hate some guts. There are guts I hate more than your guts. The guts of your teammate Reggie, for example. God, how I hate his guts. Your guts, though, well, there really is something about your guts that I hate, and not just because of the pinstripes and the word in the lower left of your 1978 card. Some guts I hate out of duty, for example Roy White, who has guts that are pretty unhateable, but still, rules are rules, so consider his guts thoroughly hated, too. But you, well, years will pass, empires will rise and fall, puberty will arrive, giving way to a young adulthood spent stumbling backwards, eyes trained on the past, the young adulthood gradually eroding into just plain adulthood, the stumbling less pronounced, replaced in essence by a less readily perceptible but deeper, more existentially disorienting uncertainty, which brings us to now, to me, a middle-aged man writing a letter to a baseball card after spending last night realizing that the monthly bills have edged beyond the monthly income, and there’s a baby involved now, and I always thought as a child I’d just be able, worse comes to worse, to sell my baseball cards and in so doing become unutterably wealthy, free of care, but as everyone knows the value of baseball cards was an absurd mirage, and you, Dick Tidrow, are the valueless card I pull out of my shoebox this morning and your name resonates across the years in a way beyond that of most others, a name I’ll always associate with the Yankees, with the deep and focused professionalism that allowed that team to beat my team, a myth that shaped my world—there are winners and losers and the winners have a cohesive swarm of assassins like Dick Tidrow, fiercely adept role-players, while we losers have some bright spots but nothing that holds together in the end. Life is fun here and there but doesn’t work out. But there’s more, Dick Tidrow. I feel like your name, Dick Tidrow, is one of those upper echelon names in terms of being able to be used as a password to let someone know I know that he knows that I know that he knows that I know. Larry Gura is another. Biff Pocoroba. Jim Wohlford. There are more. You say the name and the name means my life and—if the name raises a flicker in your mind, a click like that of the flap of a pack of cards coming open—your life, too, our shared stupid life as 1970s boys with nothing better to do than fill our mouths with gum and our brains with names, Larry Gura and Jim Wohlford and Biff Pocoroba and Dick Tidrow. The name Dick Tidrow means nothing to most but it means to me this dumb losing life I hate and love.

Josh Wilker


  1. A great name. But, not NASCAR’s Dick Trickle. Think of the possibilities. Love the site. Glad i got a re-Tweet from Buster Olney.

  2. Dirt

  3. Josh, a great post. Likewise, out of a sense of duty, I hate the guts of Dave Goltz.

  4. Johnny Wockenfuss. (By the way, that card is a 1978 Topps, not a 1977.)

  5. “Johnny Wockenfuss. (By the way, that card is a 1978 Topps, not a 1977.)”

    Yes, Johnny Wockenfuss is the king of these names.

    And, arrgh, thanks for noting the typo. I am fixing it. I so want to hit myself in the head for calling this a 1977 card, but I’m trying to cut down on that wondrous habit.

  6. I love the way you hate. I like your guts.

  7. Ah, the secret language of boys.

    So my sell-the-cards story, which you know that I know that you know already, is this: In late fall of ’89 or ’90, I guess, early twenties and at a grim, nearly penniless point of utter fecklessness, I quit my job as a Pepsi truck driver — I’d started driving the thing at increasingly suicidal speeds on winding two-lanes, and delivering soda in winter would surely seal that deal — and signed on as a ski bum at a Vermont hill. My 70s-vintage red-white-and-blue K2’s were thrashed and nearly useless, and tended to draw laughs from fellow bums. At some point I remembered I had one last “bank account” — a box of old cards — that I figured I might parlay into new equipment.

    I can’t remember if I raided the heavily mildewed family storage cubicle then, or had already done so and had the cards stashed somewhere. But I do remember — and this I think I never confessed to you — that some of your cards were in that box. And rather than put aside the ones that were yours, I sold the whole lot of them. For exactly $332, the tax-included price of a new, top-of-the-line Rossignol racing skis and bindings, with the “bum” discount applied. I’m sorry I did that; some sort of restitution is in order.

    I got my comeuppance about two months later, while clumsily bashing down a ski’d-out mogul field — ground my skis heavily across a protruding rock, breaking and ripping out one of the metal edges. Pretty much ruined.

  8. Thanks, Beth! My guts feel good now.

    Ian: Fuggin’ skiing on rocks. That’s Vermont for ya. Must have been a few Phillies, Braves, and Dodgers of mine that went toward those skis; those’re the rubber-band stacks that are a little light. It’s all good, as the stupid cliche goes. The absences are as cool as the presences.

  9. I doubt it will surprise you, Josh, to learn that Dick “Dirt” Tidrow was one of my very favorite Yankees of the era. He wound up on the Mets in ’83 (I believe) and was lousy and that depressed me.

  10. Is anyone else hoping that somewhere on some faraway Internet, a guy is writing blog entries about his own baseball cards, and wrote one this morning about a card that his brother gave him after having bought it along with a bunch of others from some guy who sold them for $332 in order to acquire new skis in 1989?

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