Archive for the ‘Montreal Expos’ Category

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Randy Johnson

November 13, 2018

Randy Johnson

For a while now, I’ve been having trouble writing. It’s as if something has attached itself to my face, my ears, my eyes, my mouth. Can’t see so well, or hear, or speak. I fantasize about somehow yanking it off, but in reality, even if I could put my hands on it, it wouldn’t come off easily. It’d rip away jagged swaths of whatever it had affixed itself to. You can’t separate yourself from your limitations.

I found this card in a corner of my house recently. If you’re into such things, you might be able to recognize that beneath the jarring defacement resides a card of some potential value, as it’s Randy Johnson’s Topps rookie baseball card. But any value it might have had is nullified, of course, as it’s now Randy Johnson’s Topps rookie baseball card with a lower-case letter a stuck to it. The letter resided for some time in a freezer bag full of letters with adhesive backing that my sons play with occasionally, or used to, and the baseball card resided for some time in a freezer bag of baseball cards that my sons play with occasionally, or used to.

I’m moving from present to past with my sons. They are now old enough to have things they used to do. When they first arrived, I ceased to be who’d I’d been all my life to that point. Or rather, the story that I thought defined me was shattered by a new story that they centered. I became a father of babies. So now that they’re not babies, what’s my story?

You can see one of Randy Johnson’s eyes clearly, while the other is obscured. You can see most of his mouth, along with some of his sparse facial hair. The bulge on the left side of the letter blocks out the lobe of the one visible ear while forming an exaggeration of Johnson’s cheek. It thickly overlays atop the gauntness of the adult pitcher a suggestion of the pudgy baby fat of an infant.

My boys moving out of the baby years could be one of the things partially smothering my ability to see and hear and speak, and by all that I mean my ability to write. But there’s no end to the reasons not to write. My last book kind of bombed. My father died. I work all fucking day. Netflix is beckoning. The world is murderous and aflame.

The back of this card shows that Randy Johnson has three major league wins to his name, meaning that from our current remove we know he has exactly 300 more to go, a massive number, connoting magnitude and longevity and even, using the parlance of the game in its reckoning of such numbers, immortality. But those wins have all come and gone, and this rookie’s career has been over for quite some time.

I saw Randy Johnson up close once, back at the beginning of this century. I was at Shea Stadium with my new girlfriend, whose father did business with a company that had a luxury box at Shea, and we got to go once in a while. The entry to the part of the stadium where the boxes were was the same as the players’ entry, and on the way out one day we lingered briefly with the fans waiting for autographs and were rewarded by the sight of the man who would a few years later become the tallest player in the baseball Hall of Fame. I have nothing really to report about this encounter except that as people called out his name he moved with his head down and walked fast, as if he was trying to get this part over with as quickly as possible.

The curve at top of the letter a is not altogether discordant with, just above it, the arc of the bill of Randy Johnson’s cap, and the straight right side of the letter a points down toward the piping of his uniform. This bracketing by the bright features of the defunct cap and the defunct uniform emphasizes the union of the half-hidden face and the alphabet letter obscuring it. If you are anything at all beyond the uniform you wear, you are language.

Actually I can’t be sure I have the story straight on the day I saw Randy Johnson up close. Did he actually sign a couple of autographs? He might have. All I know for sure was that seeing him up close made the moment crackle with importance. It’s the only thing I’m still connected to in relation to that day except the person who went to the game with me, who’s just finished getting our boys to sleep and is in the next room as I type this. It’s hard to stay seated at this table and keep writing. I want to go out and sit with her for a little while and stream some show and every once in a while look over at her perfectly flawless face.

You come out of the womb with a face, but an identity doesn’t start to form until you start to grasp that first letter, the beginning of a lifelong climb, letter by letter, word by word, through the eddying spirals of meaning and obfuscation.

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Nelson Santovenia

January 14, 2018

Nelson Santovenia

Every once in a while Nelson Santovenia shows up somewhere unusual. A few years ago, he appeared inside my guitar. And here he is now in my garbage. Why, you may ask, is there a baseball card in my garbage?

There are baseball cards in various places in my home. The cards from my childhood in the 1970s are in a couple of shoeboxes. My sons now each have a shoebox of their own, filled with some cards that have split off from two large plastic bags of random cards from the 1980s onward. Those bags are now buried in a closet, because I’m tired of cleaning them up. My sons aren’t card collectors yet, and I tend to doubt they ever will be. They like to dump the bags of cards out and fling them around the room. They’ll eventually “help” gather the wreckage, but I always get impatient with the pacing and unfocused nature of this effort and end up angrily lurching around and stuffing the cards back into the bags. This will probably loom large in my sons’ associations of baseball cards with their father: a frustrated ogre snarling vows about this being the last time anyone plays with baseball cards.

Inevitably, I miss a card or two. Later I’ll find it stuck under a chair or in the crack between couch cushions. In the past I’ve then most often placed them on a bookshelf, an intermediate step toward getting them back in the plastic bags that usually gets stretched out for quite a while and bugs me on some level. My life is always partially undone. I’m always rushing from one thing to the next, one kid needing food, the other needing help to climb up to a terrifying height atop the treadmill, my face needing a shave before work, work, a novel in unrealized chunks festering in notebooks in my file cabinet, an appointment to make with a doctor to jab his finger up my anus because it’s finally about time for that glorious rite of passage, etc.

So I made a new policy—any baseball cards from those bags that don’t make it back into the bags at the first cleanup are no longer part of my world. What’s the big deal? I have no deep association with any of those cards. They came to me after childhood as thrift-shop gifts or occasional nostalgic purchases of packs at Target or whatever. They didn’t fuse my goddamn psyche. And they certainly aren’t worth anything in a monetary fashion. They’re garbage! Right? No more nor less than the drier sheets, tissues, and packaging for a pair of tension pulley things that my wife is incorporating into her workout regime. But this morning while playing with my sons, I was pretending to be Megatron, who I guess is a foe of the Transformers, and my sons were blasting me off the bed to the ground via various means such as fart blasts and pillow pummelings and pro-wrestling style leg launches, and down there on the carpet, a smoldering and defeated robotic hulk of villainy, I noticed Nelson Santovenia where I’d discarded him, among the trash, and he didn’t seem to fit in with his surroundings. I couldn’t make him fit in with his surroundings. I could not make him mean nothing. So I took him out. He’s on my desk right now, yet another item in that messy, forever unfinished collection, my life.

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Tim Raines

January 12, 2015

Tim RainesImmortality

3.

We’re all dreaming. Some dream with numbers, others with stories, others still with the belief in some kind of unassailable purity that never existed. I dream with whatever joys and wants and traumas pounded my psyche into its shape in my childhood. I dream with baseball cards.

That’s how baseball first came to me, or at least the part of baseball that served as the fantastical counterpart to the baseball I flung my imperfect self into on little league fields and the schoolyard and my rutted dirt driveway. Certain dreams that came to me through the cards were stronger than others, making me feel like I was touching the opposite of my transitory halting world. Some cards sang. Here was greatness advancing unashamed.

The photo on the front of this card feeds into a dream of greatness, capturing a coiled, bristling image of possibilities and power. Maybe the figure shown has just hit a ball that will be run down by an outfielder, as his eyes seem to be suggesting that the ball he’s just struck is arcing high into the sky. But his body has no surrender in it, not yet, and so it still seems as if the ball might hit a gap or even reach an outfield wall. Maybe it will even hit a seam or a bolt in the wall and ricochet acutely, opening the moment to its outer limits, every single base on the diamond, everything, in reach of this runner.

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The Tao of Expo

March 5, 2013

expo in guitarFor most of my life, when baseball cards came to me, I sorted them into teams. The majority of my baseball cards from my childhood are sorted by teams right now, each team wrapped in a rubber band. The exception to this general rule is in the cards that I’ve written about, which have been removed from their teams and are loose in the shoebox, as if the process of writing about the cards is a way to offer them back into the originating randomness of life. I vowed early on to write about every single card that remains from my childhood, and I still plan to keep that vow, but right now the shoebox with all my old cards is in a closet, out of my immediate reach for the first time in many years. There are a few reasons for this. One is that I’m using whatever small pockets of time I have for writing to work on a new book (that’s not about baseball cards). Another is that I don’t want my 19-month-old son to get his hands on those cards just yet. Finally, after writing about my baseball cards for several years, there’s something appealing to having them go away, get a rest from my exhausting attention, gain strength in silence, like they did all those years when they were in a storage facility.

But baseball cards are still in my life, more actively now than at any time since my childhood. They belong to my son, a heaping pile of loose cards, some new ones from 2012 and 2013 and some older ones that came as a gift to me from my wife’s aunt, who found the cards in a binder at a garage sale. They’re all from the late 1980s and early 1990s. My wife helped me remove them all immediately from the protective plastic of the binder, and we piled them on the living room rug like leaves, where our son Jack started doing something very much like the breaststroke through them. Then, the diaspora: the cards were gradually scattered all over the house. This is how things get sorted now, through play. I find a card in the bathroom, another on the cat scratch pad. A favorite site for cards is my guitar. Jack likes dropping them in there. He can’t say guitar yet, but he makes a sound that approximates the sound of a guitar being strummed. “Dao,” he says when he wants to play with the guitar, the same way you’d pronounce the Chinese philosophy of embracing the randomness and transience of life. He said this the other day, and when we got to the guitar a backup catcher from a defunct team was inside. Oh, to live inside music, holiness itself. Oh to be an Expo forever, free of the sorted world.

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Mike Torrez

January 31, 2012

How Strange the Design

One

The few 1974 cards I own have aged more gently than my cards from later years. I wonder why. Is this difference a result of a change in the materials and processes being used to create cards after 1974, or is it just a trick of my own mind, some kind of deeper, more distorting nostalgia for the longest-tenured cards in my collection? The edges of my 1974 cards have all been rounded to thin furry shoulders with the years, while the edges of the cards from the following years seem stiffer, more rigid, less personal, or less prone to allowing the personal to merge with the impersonal.

The 1974 cards remind me of my brother. All my cards do, but the cards from this year most of all, simply because as the years went on I separated from him a little more all the time; in the beginning, I didn’t know or want to know where I ended and he began. In a way, my possession of my own 1974 cards was a way to begin possessing a sense of a self independent from him. He had his cards and I had mine, but since the 1974 cards were the first in this separation they have the strongest air of being shared, not mine but ours.

It’s all one song. The past and the present and the future, the objects we’re drawn to, the people we’re drawn to, the people we drift from, the distances, the absences, the erosion, the softening, the blurring, the converging. One day this Mike Torrez card will disappear altogether. It is in the process of disappearing right now. It is itself the process of disappearance posing as a solid object. The worn-soft edges, the feel of love, it will give way and give way and finally be gone. I’ll be ashes long before that happens, but it’ll happen, and when it does it means this card and I will be everywhere and nowhere, all one song.

Mike Torrez is poised as perfectly as humanly possible at the center of the disappearing. He kicks one leg high, balanced, alert, focused, the potential of the moment at its peak. Everything is still to come, for me and for Mike Torrez. He will become a 20-game winner in 1976 and a World Series hero in 1977. There will be more beyond 1977 for Mike Torrez, but for now let’s stop right there with thoughts of what will be. That’s the year I’ll be starting little league. I’ll be standing in centerfield with a baseball uniform on, pounding my glove and cheering on my brother. He’ll be on the mound, wearing the same uniform, pivoting in his pitching motion and kicking his leg high.

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Del Unser

December 6, 2011

The Cardboard Gods Ass Backwards ABCs of Parenting

U Is for Unser

1.
One Christmas when I was a kid, my grandmother got me a book called Juggling for the Complete Klutz. I was not then or now prone to mastering skills of any kind, useful or otherwise, but for some reason I applied myself to the book’s lessons, most of which were accompanied by a cartoon of a befuddled bearded fellow amusingly failing. Attached to the book was a small red mesh sack with three square beanbags inside. You started out throwing one beanbag, getting the arc of that toss and catch down, then moved on to practicing the mundane exchange of throwing two at a time, first one and then the other, back and forth from hand to hand. Finally, you moved on to trying to get all three beanbags up in the air at once. In that last stage, I tried and failed many times. There was a faint alluring feeling in the failures of something almost happening, as if the latch of a locked treasure chest was on the brink of giving way. I kept failing. I kept trying.

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In this 1978 card, Del Unser has just connected, propelling the ball up into the air. It’s not clear from the photo alone whether the ball will land safely, but the angle of Unser’s head as he follows the path of the ball would suggest that he has hit a fly ball and not a line drive or a grounder. I have determined after considerable study the likely time and place of this moment, and it’s during an inning in which two outs have already been recorded, thus eliminating the possibility of a sacrifice fly, and so the only hope for Unser’s at bat to be considered a useful one is for the ball to carry all the way into the centerfield stands. This is a long shot. It is always a long shot. Most at bats are useless.

3.
I remember I was in my room, alone, once again trying and failing to juggle, when, finally, I got all three beanbags going at once for a couple of seconds. I lost control of my throws almost as quickly as I had all the other times before, but this time the slight difference was unmistakable. I’d juggled. Learning to walk must have felt the same way. Learning to ride a bike. One of those moments when you feel like you’re floating in a brand new way, like the laws of gravity have loosened. I ran downstairs to find someone and tell them the news. I’d juggled!

4.
I’ve been pondering this 1978 Del Unser card for quite some time, and, as I mentioned, I have a theory on the time and place, the particulars of the moment. It took certain skills to be able to place this moment, I suppose. First, you have to be willing and able to look at a baseball card for a long time, to do something, in other words, that most people would consider to be, for an adult, a complete waste of time. You have to know your way around baseball-reference.com. It helps to know that the photographers who took shots at the ballpark in the 1970s most often showed up in New York and the Bay Area. I guess you have to have some powers of deduction. Anyway, I’ll spare you the details, but the key piece of info is that the on-deck hitter is almost surely future Hall-of-Famer Andre Dawson (joined, in the even more remote background, to the right of Unser’s left leg, by fellow Hall of Famer Gary Carter), and Dawson’s presence along with a couple of other indicators and probabilities suggests to me that the photo on this card is from the top of the sixth inning in a game between the Expos and Mets on Monday, May 30, 1977. Most of our efforts in life, let’s face it, amount to the equivalent of a failed at-bat against Bob Apodaca in a game between two also-rans. Moments that turn out like so:

Batter Pitcher Result
D. Unser B. Apodaca Flyball: CF

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Everyone in my family enjoyed my new skill, and I was glad to show it to them, especially my grandmother. Warmed and emboldened by my family’s acclaim, I marched off to school with my three square beanbags, envisioning kids chanting my name as they carried me on their shoulders through the hallways; instead, everyone I juggled for smiled briefly, then asked over rapidly encroaching boredom whether I could juggle four things, then turned away to other more interesting matters, such as learning multiplication tables or poking one of the classroom gerbils with a pencil. This reaction was a letdown that could serve as a prototype for all subsequent letdowns in my life. I came to understand, eventually, that I had devoted myself with uncharacteristic tenacity to learning something so gaudily useless that it could, were it necessary, be used to illustrate the very concept of uselessness.

6.
For most of his career, Del Unser played for also-rans, a term seemingly designed primarily to convey uselessness. There are contenders, and games that matter, and moments upon which history hinges, and then there is everything else. Del Unser played for the second edition of the Washington Senators in its death throes, then logged a season with a typically moribund Cleveland Indians outfit, then hitched on with the Philadelphia Phillies for two seasons before, just as they were on the brink of escaping mediocrity, he was shipped to the declining mid-1970s Mets for a year and a half, who then passed him along to the Expos. From the photo on the front of Del Unser’s 1978 card it’s clear, at least in retrospect, that the Expos, armed with young future superstars such as Dawson and Carter, would soon be climbing into contention, but Del Unser’s destiny was to always be on the move, and he wouldn’t be around with the Expos when, in 1979, they finally began to play games that mattered. It must have seemed to Del Unser that he would never find a crucial moment when he might be of use.

7.
I kept juggling. It became a solitary practice, like most of the other things I did or would do or still do, like reading, writing, walking, mulling fantasy sports rosters, jogging, shooting baskets, meditating, beating off. I learned how to juggle bowling pins, big plastic rings, basketballs. I learned to flip tennis balls under my leg and around my back while juggling them. However, as if to highlight the gulf growing between me, the juggler, and a hypothetical audience, a possible connection, I never was able fulfill the inevitable ubiquitous request of anyone who ever saw me juggling—can you juggle four?—with any regularity. I juggled three things, just three things, in seclusion. I tried to imagine that it was some kind of a Zen practice. At my wintry college, where my Zen pretensions were at their most pronounced levels, I sometimes juggled snowballs outside the classroom before big tests “to focus.” I’m sure I secretly hoped that I would be seen doing so, and admired, but no one ever said anything about it, at least not to my face.

8.
Some months ago the birth of my son thrust me into the frazzled center of a rapid unending series of baffling crises. The whole thing started with the birth itself, in which my role was to smile and say “You can do it!” to someone in terrible agony who later confirmed my suspicion that she was looking entirely past my cheerleading to search with animal ferocity the faces of the nurses and doctors for signs that the end of the unbearable pain might be in sight. My efficacy or lack thereof throughout the long ordeal crystallized during one of the terrifying peaks of my wife’s pain, when I was sent out of the room so that my wife could receive an epidural, which she had hoped to avoid back when we imagined that together we could calmly visualize away the rumored pain of labor contractions by believing it would all be like riding rising and falling waves. During the administration of the epidural I sat in a little waiting room alone. It was 2 a.m. or 3 a.m., somewhere in there. I sat and stared at the dim institutional carpeting and hoped and prayed, two activities of limited if not altogether useless impact. I wanted my wife to be all right but couldn’t do anything about it. I was scared that the epidural would lead to some kind of complication. I was also scared it simply wouldn’t work, that we’d have to go on as before, one of us wrenching around on a hospital bed like a fish suffocating at the bottom of a boat, the other standing alongside, useless, hoping and praying.

9.
In 1979, the trend in Del Unser’s career toward less and less playing time continued as the former regular turned fourth outfielder took what most would interpret as a further demotion in role, to that of a pinch-hitter. He had always been a good outfielder (in fact, the moment in the 1978 card at the top of this post testifies to his fielding abilities, as in the game in question he was the centerfielder, chosen to play that key defensive position over Andre Dawson, who would go on to win several Gold Glove awards as a centerfielder), and so he continued to occasionally get playing time as an outfielder, and, proving his versatility, he also logged innings occasionally at first base, but his primary role in 1979 was pinch-hitter. It must have seemed to Unser that this reduction in playing time would be compensated for by an increase in crucial moments, as going into 1979 the Phillies had won the previous three National League East crowns. As it turned out, the 1979 Phillies would finish up the season as also-rans, 14 games out of first behind the Pirates (and 12 behind his contending former teammates on the Expos), but fairly deep into the season there must have persisted the hope that the three-time defending NL East champs might still have a chance to make a charge toward the top. On June 30, the Phillies were trailing the St. Louis Cardinals late and were on the brink of falling to just one game above .500 when Del Unser was called in to pinch-hit. Unser homered to tie the game, which the Phillies would go on to win. Unser homered in his next pinch-hitting appearance, a July 5 loss to the Mets, and was next called in to pinch-hit with two outs and two on in the 9th inning of a July 10 game against the Padres, the Phillies behind 5-3 and future Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers on the mound. No one had ever hit three pinch-hit home runs in a row before. You can tell where this is going, I’m sure, so let’s just say that in that not altogether unimportant moment, the Phillies still within shouting distance of first place, Del Unser proved to be quite useful.

10.
The epidural worked, for a while anyway, probably not because of my prayers, but who knows. It eventually wore off, leading to another long terrible passage of pain that finally ended in the best and weirdest moment of my life, my bloody son riding on the hands of strangers out from between the legs of my wife. Since then, the boy at the center of that moment has centered my life, and my life has been that of a complete klutz. I trip over stuff. I drop things. Sometimes I barely remember how to walk. A few nights ago, I had a dream that I was trying to juggle and couldn’t do it any longer. I kept trying but I’d forgotten how.

11.
Del Unser followed up his 1979 record-setting feat of three pinch-hit home runs in a row by performing multiple off-the-bench heroics for the Phillies in the 1980 postseason, helping the team to its first-ever World Series title. Unser’s efforts on a colorful star-studded Phillies roster including eventual all-time hits king Pete Rose, league MVP Mike Schmidt, Cy Young award-winner Steve Carlton, comically gorilla-armed slugger Greg Luzinski, and the charismatic sloganeering Dionysian relief ace Tug McGraw, among others, provide some guidance to me on how to be father. Being a father, you’re not really the star of the show, the starting pitcher, the cleanup hitter, what have you, but you may be called upon at certain times to step off the bench and into the spotlight. You don’t have the uterus or the boobs or the 500 career home runs or the 300 wins but you still might be called upon to perform a small but necessary duty successfully. You can carry a car seat out to the car. You can change a diaper half-decently. Maybe once in a while you can get the kid to sleep. You are the pinch-hitter.

12.
After my dream about not being able to juggle I searched the house for three tennis balls. It took a while—in step with the new general disorder of things, all three were in different places, and my wife found the last one behind a bureau. She also found what she termed “a hundred-pound wad of dust” behind the bureau, so after she cleaned back there she stomped off to the shower, asking me to watch the baby in her absence. Time to pinch-hit! The baby was sitting and playing in a little high chair thing by the dining-room table. I kept one eye on him while I gathered up the three tennis balls. I hadn’t juggled in a while, but it came right back to me. Three balls in the air. After all these years, it still gave me some pleasure, or maybe even some kind of very quiet joy. This feeling, joy, announced itself as always having been there, in a kind of diminished, hibernating form, as I noticed it rousing itself to something fuller, a whole note, with the awareness that two small blue eyes were now on me. My son, who had been attempting to jam a small furry book about a family of bears into his mouth, had noticed what I was doing. His fierce grip on the book loosened and the book slid to the floor. I kept juggling, turning to him, calling his name and babbling baby sounds. He was watching the worn yellow balls rise and fall, rise and fall. He was watching the pinch-hitter do what he knew how to do and he was smiling.

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Scott Sanderson

July 22, 2011

When I was younger I assumed that human history was like a ladder, leading upward. But the whole span of it from cave paintings to internet porn is an illusion, at least when you consider the temporary nature of the sun, which will implode or whatever eventually and sweep everything that’s ever been done, every word, every kiss, back into the void from which it came. Even if you kind of shield your eyes from that obliterating eventuality and focus on human history as if it were somehow indelibly real, you can see that we more often disintegrate than advance.

My wife has two shelves of books about the space program. On our first big road trip together, nine years ago, when Abby was in the full bloom of her obsession with the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs, we digressed from the primary focus of the trip—attending a series of baseball games in different cities—to spend a day at the Neil Armstrong museum in Ohio, where the narrative of a Midwestern boy intensely interested in flight gradually connected with a collective central human quest to explore the unknown and then, more specifically, to perhaps the greatest or at least most iconic moment of that quest, when Neil Armstrong walked on the fucking moon.

He took that giant leap 42 years ago Wednesday. I was rooting for our first kid to arrive on that date, July 20, but no dice. On the bright side, our busted air conditioner was working again, so the pretty miserable last mile of my wife’s pregnancy was not as bad as it could be that day. The air conditioner worked yesterday, too, and then last night it conked out. Oddly enough, it may or may not be working again this morning, but even if it is it seems to be laboring like a shopping cart with a busted wheel, cockeyed, groaning. Maybe that’s what history is, a half-broken thing, haltingly moving.

Scott Sanderson was born 55 years ago today, on July 22, 1956. Today is my wife’s due date. Today I’m waiting for the air conditioning repairman, Maurice, to come back and try to figure out why it keeps breaking, which seems as if it will be particularly difficult to determine now that it’s sort of working again.

In the last room of the Neil Armstrong museum, nine summers ago, Abby and I each played in a simulator booth in which you could pretend to steer a lunar landing module down onto the surface of the moon. The simulator piped in a voice as if from Mission Control that reacted encouragingly to the progress of the landing. I believe on one of my successful moon landings I was told that NASA would be calling me soon. There were kids behind us in line, waiting to use the simulators, so after helming a couple last miraculous leaps forward in human progress we exited the simulators and left the museum to get back into the Dodge Neon we had rented for the trip.

Landing on the moon in a simulator is as close as anyone is going to get to the real thing for a long, long time, or maybe ever. Yesterday, the space shuttle Atlantis landed, ending the space shuttle program. When we got to the moon a little over 42 years ago, it seemed like we were stepping onto a rung that would only lead higher. Mercury to Gemini to Apollo to who knows? But Apollo turned out to be the pinnacle, and after it came Skylab, then as Skylab was falling in flaming chunks back to earth in 1979, the year the photo on this Scott Sanderson card was taken, the space shuttle program was underway. The space shuttle program is over, and there’s not really anything lined up to replace it. No money, no vision. No ladder. Makes me think, perversely, of a Bob Dylan song: “May you build a ladder to the stars and climb on every rung/and may you stay forever young.”

Or maybe it’s not so perverse. The song is a prayer Dylan wrote to his newborn child. I know how to strum the song on my guitar and probably will when the kid finally gets here. I’m not religious but I find ways to pray. So here’s one to Scott Sanderson, or at least to the cardboard version of him from 1980, when I was 12 and thought life would be a ladder to the stars, and here’s a thank you to the world that made me feel that way back then, and to my loved ones, and to the kid on the way from the stars, a reminder.