I didn’t really think about baseball cards for a long time. They were an early obsession, but between the ages of about 12 to 26, they weren’t much of a thought. Sometimes I looked at the boxes I had stored in the closet, sometimes I flipped through the assembled binders and looked reverently on random images of Andre Dawson or Scott Cooper I’d accumulated. But otherwise, it was a past hobby, replaced by CDs and whatever else.
There were little flickers of that old impulse through that dormant period, though. I picked up a Pedro Martinez card in a cereal box while I was in college somehow, and I’ve hung onto that ever since. And one day while I was combing through a flea market looking for records, I came across two cards for a dollar each that caught my eye — Carl Yastrzemski’s 1981 card, and this one, of Jim Rice in 1977.
He’s smiling and happy to be posing for the photographer in this shot, likely before the Red Sox played the Yankees in some brutal division tilt. He looks like an easy going guy. And he was the most quietly terrifying dude in the game at the time. Continue reading
Dave Parker, crushing it.
A few years ago at a place of business we shall leave nameless, I was feeling less than inspired. It was hard to see what, if any, impact I was really making beyond just getting through another day without throwing an inkjet printer three floors down into the lobby. It’s your run-of-the-mill office restlessness, but it was mine and it came at a point where it all felt like one cumbersome weight.
The saving grace here was that I wasn’t alone. I had three or four co-conspirators who were just as frustrated and annoyed by our rigid 8-to-5 life, and we came up with a series of inside jokes to help pass the time.
One of them featured the gentleman in this card, Dave Parker. By the time I learned about him, he was augmenting the Bash Brothers in Oakland, a still-viable designated hitter in his late 30s who could send 20 or more baseballs out of the park. We discovered some truly amazing pictures of Parker in his earlier days as a veritable baseball hurricane in Pittsburgh, winning MVP awards and sporting some terrifying face gear and occasionally lighting one up in the dugout. We printed up all of these and hung them up around the office.
I also had this card of him as a Milwaukee Brewer and I taped it to the monitor of my computer. When things got tough or our boss gave us yet another meaningless or impossible task, it was, “be strong like Dave Parker,” or “what would Dave Parker do?”
It’s March now. This is the time to start thinking about baseball and bitching about lineups and Spring Training scores, typically. But always, it seems like a good time to chill before crushing whatever problem is staring us in the face into oblivion.
What would Dave Parker do? He’d chill. Then he’d take care of business.
I’ve felt like I’ve been in a cloud all day.
I’ve had a little twitch in my left eye that’s come and gone to accompany the drifting headache and general exhaustion that comes with not going to bed until nearly 2 a.m. on a day where I was an hour busier than usual. So a thank you goes out to daylight savings time ending, to The Darkness for putting on one of the more ridiculous rock and roll shows I’ve ever witnessed, and for the Kansas City Royals for ending the 2015 World Series in only the most insane and suitable of fashions. Continue reading
At one point, this was Alex Gordon.
I meant to write something — not quite this — before the start of what seems like a wholly improbable World Series, though any cold, rational look at it will show that it’s anything but that. These are two teams built to win in their own ways, one through young, powerful pitchers and the other on speed and opportunism. It’s only a surprise because we endlessly associate everything with the words and colors on their shirts and hats.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course. The laundry is what pulls everything together. It’s how we tell who’s who in the stadium, and those stadiums are usually coordinated to match. So it’s natural that we associate decades of losing and ineptitude with the uniforms of those who carried out those sullied legacies.
It’s the uniform that’s the reason for the card posted alongside this piece, mostly because I don’t have a lot of cards of the current members of these teams. As feverishly as my baseball card collecting came back around 2010, so too it went shortly after. So here’s Alex Gordon, back when he was a clean-shaven third baseman and thought to be a disappointment, not the lynchpin of a free-swinging group of relative youngsters. Continue reading
Pedro Martinez, in the midst of doing what he did.
If I glance to my left from my desk at work, I can see various things taped up: concert setlists, band photos, album covers, little trinkets to keep me motivated and feeling like I’m at home. One of them is a Pedro Martinez baseball card, circa 2003. He’s pumping his fist, probably after another strikeout.
Thanks to a quick decline in baseball card quality the past couple of seasons, the collecting bug that I rekindled around 2010 has flamed out again, leading me back to the occasional, nostalgic purchase. I still seek out individual Red Sox each year, and I pick up stray cards of players I like on the cheap. In terms of space and money spent, it’s a much more affordable existence.
This weekend, I was tooling around again for the first time in a few months, and sort of instinctively started looking for Pedro cards. Soon enough, I found a 10-card lot of ones I mostly didn’t have, priced around $3 total, and took the plunge. The entire exercise probably took around 10 minutes.
Tomorrow afternoon, there’s a very good chance that Pedro is going to be announced as a 2015 Hall of Fame inductee, along with Randy Johnson, Craig Biggio and maybe a couple of others (John Smoltz? Mike Piazza?). It’s a feather in the cap of an incredible career, and it feels nice to know that he’s being acknowledged for his work. But that’s not what I was thinking about when I went searching for those cards, because I don’t think much about the Hall of Fame anymore. Continue reading