My wife and I, being healthy and productive members of both society and the working class, often spend our evenings pursuing projects that imbue our lives with a sense of fulfillment and personal satisfaction. So was it on the evening last, as I typed words about baseball and my wife digitized photographs of our collective youth. These two spheres collided tragically when my aforementioned and charming wife uncovered photographs of my own baseballing pursuits, in the form of fake baseball cards devoted to my Little League team.
I present to you the backs of said cards. I do not present their fronts, because as you are perhaps aware, the Internet is a swarthy port-tavern of a place, and the present author may have, in his youth, worn the sort of spectacles that put Ron Kittle’s to shame.
I also present them to you in order to confess the sins of a foolhardy youth. Judge as thou wilt, Internet. I shall emerge the stronger for it.
Few of these stats should surprise. The position of “second base/shortstop” is bestowed on me, one imagines, because it is somewhat cruel to label a boy as a utility infielder. There are no statistics on the back of the card, perhaps because the photographer wasn’t interested in collecting and publishing them, and perhaps also because mine were not worth recording. I was a second baseman largely because I lacked the arm for shortstop, and offensively, I was the worst Eddie Gaedel ever. A quick glance at my playing weight will probably inform the reader as to the number of extra-base hits I collected in 1988.
What embarrass me are the final two lines. Well, perhaps not the former: 1988 was the year that Gregg Jefferies ruled all of baseball, and he could (and often did) arrive at baseball card shows and demand the keys to whichever car in the parking lot he most prized. I’ve written before (and will again, next week) on the magical aura of Gregg Jefferies. But to go so far as name the Mets my favorite team? For shame, miniature Dubuque.
Three years later, I had already made my tearful retirement from baseball. But I did have a soccer card from my final season as left halfback for the Normandy Park Tigers:
Dot matrix printing came a long way in three years.
The enchantment wrought by Jefferies had dissipated, and the reason had returned to me. Rickey Henderson was back in his rightful place as my favorite athlete, now and forever. Still, it would have been nice to know that my pre-teen self wasn’t such a vapid, fair-weather fan, flitting from sport to sport and team to team, repeled by my own local team’s allergic reaction to winning.
The Mariners had done what they could. They gave me Spike Owen to idolize, and when that failed, went even further and brought forth an Omar Vizquel who looked hardly older than myself. But alas, I was young, too full of hope. I wasn’t ready to be a Spike Owen then. I wasn’t ready to be a Mariners fan.
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