I Need You
Is this really how Rick Bosetti swung? The complete lack of urgency and electricity in his follow-through (by contrast, see a similar moment modeled by the great Dimaggio) suggest a lifeless JC Penney catalog photo rather than a baseball card action shot. Maybe this shot is taken from the end of the 1979 season, one in which Bosetti finished third in the league in outs made. He’d made so many outs at this point that he’d sort of resigned himself to the whole thing.
“Yup,” he seems to be thinking, “there’s another soft useless popup to second base. Guess I’ll trot a few steps toward first to make it look good even though I could just as easily walk back to the dugout right now and it wouldn’t make a bit of difference. . . . God, I’m tired.”
Maybe it was around this time that Bosetti began to pursue the quest that would bring him some enduring notoriety. In fact, the case could be made that in this photo he is not gazing out at the puny path of his batted ball but past it, to some as-yet unconquered expanse in the outfield grass.
You see, Rick Bosetti, when he began to realize that he wasn’t bound for Cooperstown, decided he wanted to somehow leave some other kind of mark on the game, and so began urinating in the outfield of every park he played in. By his retirement he claims to have urinated in all the American League outfields. He seems to have done most of his damage before games, but there are some reports claiming that once his project gained some renown he began doing it during games, while pitching changes were being made. Some mention is made of his glove being used to shield himself. As I imagine it, maybe he also squatted down or something. I don’t think the fans were privy to these shenanigans, but surely there must have been some awareness among his fellow players. It must have brightened up many a late-season meaningless blowout.
But anyway, here’s Rick Bosetti in his 1980 card. It was the last year in which my cards had the power to be a whole world unto themselves, a world I could get lost in. Something about Bosetti’s flaccid disinterest epitomizes my baseball card end times. At some point my attitude toward these little colored and number-riddled rectangles ceased to excite me and draw me in. I bought a few cards the following year, but it must have felt like I was inside the passionless follow-through of a failed Bosetti swing. You know: Who cares?
One of the few cards I got in 1981 happened to be another Rick Bosetti. It must have produced none of the old spark. I was 13 by then. I don’t need you, Rick Bosetti.
I needed something else.
(to be continued)