When I was a kid I looked for reflections of some greater undiscovered part of myself in my baseball cards, but in the 1970s the only guy anywhere close to sharing my name and giving me hope that I might someday belong in the world I spent all my solitary hours glorifying was Von Joshua. Von Joshua wasn’t that great, and even though I wasn’t sure if the Joshua in his name was a last name or part of a single official title (like Count Dracula), I knew it didn’t really match my own. Also, my grasp on his identity was slippery: for some reason I always thought of him as the hazy fourth Alou. And then when his disappearance from baseball coincided with the appearance of Von Hayes the fog just increased, distancing any connection between my name and baseball.
As far as I knew there never had been a major league Josh and never would be. On closer inspection now I see that there were a few Joshes in baseball’s earlier eras, but none since a couple journeymen named Josh Billings in the 1920s and no one at all of note besides Josh Devore, who had a brief career as a speedy outfielder for the pennant-winning Giants of the early teens.
Now, however, baseball is lousy with Joshes. So is everything. After taking a victory lap around my apartment to celebrate Josh Beckett’s dominating game 1 shutout of the Angels (i.e., going to the kitchen to look for chocolate, finding none, and stuffing a piece of rye bread with cream cheese into my face instead) I came back to the living room and watched a couple minutes of a show my wife had just switched to, in which the parents of a young tan mousse-haired douchebag were subjecting a woman with fake breasts to a lie detector test. The mousse-haired douchebag’s name was Josh.
“I’m getting together with the rest of the Joshes and voting this douchebag out of our name!” I fumed. But there are so many Joshes now, many of them probably moussed douchebags, that if there ever was a global meeting convened the expulsion votes might end up purging any lingering unmoussed solitary oddballs left over from the earlier less-Josh-heavy days of yore, like me. Banished, I’d have to change my name to some extinct moniker such as Festus or Mortimer or Increase.
But until that day comes when I’m forced to roam the land, a name-exile, I can balance the pain of seeing more and more idiots named Josh with the singular pleasure, the boyhood dream, of watching the most important player on my favorite baseball team turn in performances like the one he had last night.
Go, Josh, go!