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Dick Lange

January 1, 2018

Dick Lange

The truth about Dick Lange surfaced in 1970 but like most truth is mostly if not entirely obscured. I certainly never noticed it all the years I’ve been in possession of this unassuming 1975 card. In 1970, while in his first year in professional baseball, pitching for the Angels’ rookie league team in Idaho Falls, Dick Lange was perfect. He went 13 and 0.

Tonight as I was getting my older son ready for bed he started asking me about how he could keep himself from having bad dreams about Bowser, this spike-backed monster who is the last hurdle to clear in his Super Mario video game. My son worries a lot about monsters and guns and bad dreams and meanness. I tried to tell him not to worry about bad dreams, but tears started streaming down his face.

The perfection didn’t last for Dick Lange. He lost about as many as he won throughout the rest of his career, which included parts of four years with the Angels, all of them on the same pitching staff with Nolan Ryan. Ryan, somewhat famously, also did not win that many more than he lost, which of course says more about the dubious nature of win-loss totals than it does about Ryan’s talents, which were the stuff of myth, as evidenced by the first three years he shared a dugout with Dick Lange. In each of those years, Ryan struck out well over 300 batters, a feat equaled at that point by fewer men in the 20th Century than had walked on the Moon (and over twice as many as Dick Lange managed in his entire career). The point is, even Nolan Ryan was a loser, repetitively, constantly, so what chance do mere mortals such as Dick Lange have to hold on to any kind of perfection?

I wiped my son’s tears with the sleeve of my sweatshirt. I read him some Curious George. He went upstairs to his mom and fell asleep. My younger son was still awake, up later than usual because he’d had a nap this afternoon. He’s three and has been moving away from a daily nap, that last echo of infancy. This was the first time the nap happened in weeks. So he was up with me this evening for a while, and the two of us passed the time by, at his request, “playing chess,” which just meant that we pulled the pieces out of this magnetic travel set we have and then tried to put them back into their places. Each piece fits snugly in a felt indentation.

“Do you see one with a horse shape that could go here?” I said.

He tried to put the knight in its place in but had it facing the wrong way.

“How about this way?” I said, gently turning the piece around and handing it back to him. He got it in.

“You make this game fun,” he said. He fell asleep a little while later with me rocking him and singing him Hank Williams’s “Lost Highway” really softly. I kissed him on his curly head and carried him upstairs.

You began perfect. That hasn’t been lost.

2 comments

  1. What a nice piece, Josh. My kids are now 21, 20 and 18 and I miss those times. Thanks, Dick Lange.


  2. Thanks Josh. I always feel better after reading one of your Post. Happy New Year and Take Care.



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