I’ve never understood it for a moment, and it’s bugged me for 35 years and counting. It’s like some Fred Flintstone type from the Pleistocene epoch dragging himself out of the muck and the mire, club in hand, and promptly discovering fire in the morning and by the early afternoon he’s composing a symphony worthy of the Philadelphia Philharmonic.
In 1973, when our hobby wasn’t even really a twinkle in anybody’s eye, two guys collaborated on the best book ever written about baseball cards. Not just best up to that point; we’re talking the best book that ever will be written about baseball cards.
Don’t believe me. Check this out ….
“In the 75 or so years that the World Series has been in existence, there have been perhaps 1,200 pitchers who have pitched in it. Of these, Don Larsen is the only one to have pitched a perfect game. Like Sophia Loren’s marriage to Carlo Ponti, the continuing popularity of Danny Thomas and the political career of Spiro Agnew, there is no rational explanation for this. It just is.”
There you go. That gem is planted alongside a picture of Larsen’s 1958 Topps card (I don’t want to get sued, so I pictured his 1957 card here. Pretty clever, eh?), one of maybe 100 or more such entries in the book. In one spectacular sentence they managed to include Sophia Loren and Spiro Agnew, and how many writers do you know who can handle that?
The book is resplendent with nostalgia, wit and a loving regard for a game of baseball, all elegantly wrapped up in a smart-aleck treasure called The Great American Baseball Card Flipping Trading and Bubble Gum Book.
The two guys, Brendan C. Boyd and Fred C. Harris, managed to produce such a masterpiece back when our hobby truly was nothing more than those pioneers we write about in the pages of Sports Collectors Digest and a handful of others. The book was published the very same year as John Stommen’s first issue of SCD.
I’ve noted with some minor pretend grumbling over the years that I’m thoroughly aggrieved that they pre-empted any hopes I might have in publishing a fun book about baseball cards, since they had already done it in such a stunning fashion. Over time, however, my anguish has dissipated a bit as I have gradually resolved to someday write my own book anyway, with some obsequious admission included in the introduction conceding that it’s a rip-off of their classic.
Besides, in my version I’m going to include pictures of vintage cards from Henry Aaron, Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays. There … that’s how good that book is. Spook Jacobs and Barbra Chrisley had their cards pictured, but Mickey, Willie and Henry didn’t make the cut.
It’s not really stealing if you announce beforehand that you’re going to do it, is it Gov. Blagojevich?