Billy Jo Robidoux Would Have Boxed You

It was a different time, you understand — 1987, or ’88. A time when men like Billy Jo Robidoux and Mark Funderburk were the flying buttresses in the architecture of baseball — beautiful appendages that distract from the innermost works of the structure. Or something.

It was also a time when baseball cards like this were possible:


They gaze on, each to no great end.

The random pairing of players, the dissimilar orientation of the photos, the misspelling of Billy Jo‘s name, the prospect emblem in Johnny Rocket’s font — all of these were only possible in the 1980s, when anything went up one’s nose.

These men’s names are also things of the past, though arguably of different pasts. The name Mark Funderburk, like the man it’s attached to here, seems at home in the ’80s; it suggests excess, awkwardness, crispy hair, strange smells, orifices of all sorts torn asunder. Cheeseburgers were probably in their prime in the 1980s, as they were finally no longer seen solely as a treat, but rather now considered nutritiously American. The above card suggests as much.

Billy Jo Robidoux, both the name and the man, also belongs in the ’80s — the 1880s.


Lamenting the departure of the time machine
that dropped him into these tights.

Notice how his posture posture resembles that of an old-timey bare-knuckle boxer. Notice how his would-be-iconic moustache wilts from exposure to weapons grade plutonium.

This is a man who, in another time, would have boxed you — meaning that he would have engaged you in a boxing match for nothing more than looking askance at his dog’s bollocks, but also meaning that were you to engage him in return, he would have put you in a casket. Bro.

Had he not been so misplaced, he could have been burying opponents on the reg’ and getting his name in periodicals of note. But alas, time travel was not kind to Billy Jo Robidoux, Never-Was Bare-Knuckle Champion of the Five Points.

During time travel, his hat’s font got all jumbled, his face got all weary, dozens of moustachio locks fell from his lip. Forced to play a confusing sport-of-the-future for the rest of his athletic prime, he hit but five homeruns.

There was a time, you understand, when Billy Jo Robidoux would have kicked your ass. But now?

Damn.




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15 Responses to “Billy Jo Robidoux Would Have Boxed You”

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  1. nubillybaroo says:

    I have a T-206 Piedmont Billy Jo Robidoux for sale – asking $163,000 obo.

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  2. Person says:

    Combined WAR: -1.7

    But that’s not the point is it?

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  3. Michael says:

    This card is my new white whale.

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  4. mattc says:

    FUNDERBURK?!?!?!?!

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  5. olethros says:

    I’m fairly certain I have that card, Michael.

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  6. Jack says:

    Funderburk is an applicable word to replace essentially any other word in a sentence. For example, from the above selection:

    During time travel, his hat’s font got all jumbled, his face got all weary, dozens of moustachio locks fell from his Funderburk. Forced to play a confusing sport-of-the-future for the rest of his athletic Funderburk, he hit but five homeruns.

    or

    Cheeseburgers were probably in their Funderburk in the 1980s, as they were finally no longer seen solely as a treat, but rather now considered nutritiously American. The above card Funderburks as much.

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  7. The Rajah says:

    Two of the greatest baseball names of all times: Mark Funderburk and Billy Jo Robidoux. How appropriate for their likenesses to grace the same card. This card should be worth millions!

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  8. george s. peek says:

    Rob,

    This piece is great.

    – George

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  9. I hate every one of my pieces as soon as I post it. This one’s no different, I mean, I start out talking about how the 1980s were a time that, for a reason that I never reveal (I never revealed it because I never thought of it!), enabled the careers of players of the Robidoux/Funderburk ilk, and cards of this Fleer “Major League Prospects” variety.

    But then I just move on to say that while Funderburk is suited to the 1980s, Billy Jo is from another era, and that, a propo of nothing, he time travelled to the 1980s from the 1880s, when baseball was already pretty well established, though I go on to act like it was not.

    It’s as though my NotGraphs mantra is “Leave No Idea Developed; Leave No Detail Connected to Another.” If I was still teaching freshman comp, and I had myself as a student, at first read I might be enamored of this prose, but it wouldn’t give myself more than a C for it’s lack of organization, thought development, logical transitions, etc.

    Then again, I was horrible teacher, too.

    I suck.

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  10. reillocity says:

    It’d be something to see a bareknuckles bout between Billy Jo Robidoux and Randall “Tex” Cobb. Sure, we probably wouldn’t be able to tell the pugilists apart but that’s largely beside the point.

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  11. Eddie Rivas says:

    I once saw Billy Jo homer for the El Paso Diablos while on a rehab assignment. Back then in El Paso if a player homered after he crossed home he would take his batting helmet off and go around the first row and fans would drop $ in the helmet. After I went down and dropped a dollar in his helmet, I though… Why is this guy down on rehab taking a dollar from me a 13 year old(at the time)? Billy Joe you owe me a dollar plus interest.

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