One of the great joys of my life has been the enduring popularity of The Great American Baseball Card Flipping, Trading And Bubblegum Book, which I wrote with Brendan Boyd in 1973. (I’m working on a sequel with Dave Moore.)
My friend Josh Wilker has written about baseball cards as well, and quite eloquently, in Cardboard Gods. He’s part of a forum at The American Writers Museum in Chicago next week, where he plans to read from my book, for which I am indeed honored.
He recently published a piece about my book on his Cardboard Gods blog. Josh’s post contains more details about the American Writers Museum baseball forum next week. You should check it out.
As for the two characters in the photo below, it has been a long, strange trip...
Tony Conigliaro’s name still resonates around Boston all these years later. This is his 1965 Rookie card.
The kid in me has been pretty much priced out of the baseball card market, since per-pack prices have gone bonkers, and way beyond what kids these days can (or are willing to) pay. Everything today seems to be about the “chase cards” - the limited-print inserts to basic sets.
I’m more of a “basic set” kind of guy.
But hand it to Topps - by virtue of being in the baseball card market since 1952, the company has a strong, powerful heritage of cards and designs. This Aaron Judge card recalls the design of the Topps 1953 Mickey Mantle card, just as Judge recalls Mantle in so many ways.
The Boston Red Sox filed a petition to the City of Boston to change the name of the street adjacent to Fenway Park from Yawkey Way back to its original name - Jersey Street.
Here is a statement from the team:
The Red Sox, while they were owned by Tom Yawkey, were the last team in Major League Baseball to integrate, passing on players like Jackie Robinson and Willie Mays because they were black.
Every player on every MLB team today wears #42.
The late night Boston sports shows, like CSNNE’s “Sports Tonight,” pretty much capture where I’m at right now on the Boston sports continuum of interest. I flipped over to “Sports Tonight” the other night after the Bruins game to find out what’s happening with the Patriots. Or to get some informed post-game reaction to the Bruins’ win I just watched. How about finding something — anything — to get me fired up for the new baseball season? I don’t follow hoops, which is good, since there wasn’t much time allotted to basketball, save for a Celtics highlights package.
When I was a kid, and later when I wrote The Great American Baseball Card Flipping, Trading And Bubblegum Book, and later still when I operated a sports collectibles business in Boston, I got interested in baseball when I started seeing new wax packs of baseball cards appear on corner store counters. Now, of course, there are no more corner stores, and if you want packs of cards, you go to Walmart or Target, and you take a lot of money with you.
So I’m in a transition vortex right now. Don’t get me wrong — I love baseball. I remember when it was the number one sport in the country, just as big as boxing (yeah, I’m that old). And I’m sure that my passion for baseball will return when the real bullets start to fly next week. But for now, while baseball is still shooting blanks, I’m going to tune into the Bruins game tomorrow night and hope they get their scoring mojo back and get closer to a wildcard spot in the Playoffs.
Okay. The snow has been melting this week, and I haven’t taken my winter jacket out of the closet for two straight days. Yesterday, I wore my “Property Of Boston Red Sox” hoodie, and thoughts of baseball are beginning to find a little traction as they jockey for space inside the man cave of my mind. Hockey is still elbowing everything else aside right now as the Bruins try to make it into the Playoffs, and NFL free agency has gotten interesting, especially as it relates to the Patriots. But I’m beginnong to hear the sound of birds when I go outside now. Baseball opening day must be getting close.
So I went on Seat Geek last night to see what the market was for a cheap early-season Sox ticket. A couple of years ago, I paid $8.00 for a Thursday afternoon game against the Orioles on Jackie Robinson Day, in the right field grandstand. The sun came out, and it was a great day. And every player on both teams wore #42.
The Red Sox usually schedule a day game later in the week of their first home stand. This year, it’s against the Pirates, and right now there’s a seat in Section 10 of the Grandstand for $18. In another ten days, I’m betting it will be closer to $10. The app will let me know. If the price is right, I’ll buy it, and it will get downloaded to my iPhone. Then on game day, it will be Alewife to Harvard on the Red Line, then the #1 bus from Harvard Square to Mass Ave and Boylston, and a nice walk down by the Pike on Ipswich Street to Fenway.
I’ll keep you posted.
Every Spring, around this time, I have a strong desire to re-acquaint myself with my baseball glove.
It's not that I'm preparing to play in that pickup league again on the Esplanade across Storrow Drive from Massachusetts General Hospital. Hell, it's been so long since I lived on Beacon Hill that I'm not even sure there IS a pickup league on the Esplanade any more. And anyway, I've lost a little something off my fastball.
Still, that visceral need to put on my left-handed Wilson A2000 has become overpowering right now, in late March, less than two weeks from Opening Day.
I remember exactly when I bought my first real baseball glove. Of course, I'd had several gloves as a kid, each one a kid's model of one sort or another, inexpensive and bought for me by someone else, but this was the first one I'd bought with my own money. Grown-up-with-a-full-time-job money. And I wanted the real thing, just like the major leaguers wore. The Wilson A2000. The experience of buying it is still vivid in my memory, because it was the afternoon of the night I watched Hank Aaron break Babe Ruth's home run record on national television. Some things you just don't forget.
Problem is, I can't find the glove. When you live in the same house for a long time, you inevitably go through multiple Spring cleanings, which in my case usually involve ruthless disposal of anything I can't justify keeping at that moment. Now, I don't remember deciding to dispose of my glove during one of those ruthless pogroms of years past, although the leather had probably degraded over time and it's possible i might have said to myself "I'll never use that thing again" and stuck to my "touch something one time only and throw it out or give it away" rule, if you can't see yourself ever using that something again. That might have happened. But I don't think it did.
In any case, I've done a preliminary search of the basement, and no glove. This is not good. But I shall undertake a more thorough investigation soon, and report back.
I want to rub some neatsfoot oil into the leather and experience that new-season feeling once again. And maybe go outside and look for someone to play catch with.