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Hi, I’m Eric and This Is My Malcolm X Baseball Card

It’s a well-known adage of our time that NotGraphs contributors “are always hired in pairs.” Yesterday, we introduced the readership to Mr. Patrick Dubuque. Today, we present the debut of Mr. Eric Augenbraun. Readers of SB Nation’s The Good Phight will know Mr. Augenbraun as a contributor to that site under the handle FuquaManuel. Additionally, provided the UPenn website isn’t totally lying, it appears as though Mr. Augenbraun has done some serious reading and writing on race and labor in the US. He has not yet been — but will probably someday be — called “The Thinking Man’s Thinking Man.” Welcome, Mr. Eric Augenbraun.

Greetings NotGraphs readers! I’m Eric, the new guy. I’m happy to join the team.

Upon signing on as a contributor to this fine web establishment, I immediately dug up my old baseball card collection, as I know my new NotGraphs colleagues have a special passion for old baseball cards. Sifting through the shoebox full of them, there were mustaches and spectacles aplenty, but nothing that truly grabbed me.

Until I encountered this:

I did a double-take. So many questions: I’ve had Malcolm X’s baseball card all this time and I didn’t even know it? Why did they make a Malcolm X baseball card? Why is there a picture of Delino DeShields on my Malcolm X baseball card? The reverse tells the tale:

Mystery: solved. This card was a part of Pinnacle’s “The Idols” series. Whereas other players featured in the collection were paired with idols from within the game of baseball, DeShields, “a serious student of African-American history,”  appears with the slain Black nationalist leader, Malcolm X. An interesting choice indeed.

Like DeShields, I too am a serious student of African-American history, and this got me looking for other Malcolm X-baseball connections — whatever might be out there. At the end of a grueling day of research at my local library, my prospects for success were looking dim, but by a stroke of pure luck I came across the complete, uncut edition of Mike Wallace and Louis Lomax’s influential 1959 documentary, The Hate That Hate Produced. This controversial exposé introduced much of America to the Nation of Islam and its charismatic spokesman, Malcolm, for the first time.

In the previously unseen footage I uncovered, Lomax attempts to engage Malcolm in small talk before beginning the more substantive portion of the interview that was ultimately included in the documentary. I have transcribed the exchange below.

Lomax: So did you see the Dodgers game last night? That was quite an incredible finish, wasn’t  it? I do find it hard seeing them do well in Los Angeles though.

Malcolm X: What?

Lomax: The Dodgers. Because they used to play in Brooklyn, you know?

Malcolm X:

Lomax: You are a baseball fan, aren’t you?

Malcolm X: No.


History, folks.