Friday, March 11, 2011

Doug DeCinces had an indestructible mustache

It was probably my most prized possession from childhood. The 1980 Topps Eddie Murray card (from the 1979 season). It was the first year I really dialed in on collecting baseball cards. Being my favorite player, he wound up being the most elusive.

Billy, the kid that lived two doors down from my grandparents in Towson, was the first person I knew that had the card. No matter how I reasoned with him, he wouldn't take a two-for-one trade for Mark Belanger and Rich Dauer, the Orioles shortstop and second baseman. He really didn't understand how much more I wanted the Murray card than he did.

I remember sitting down in McCrory's Five and Dime on Washington Street in Easton, in the baseball card section, pouring over the clear three-packs of cards, looking to see which packs had the most visible Orioles. Mike Flanagan, Lee May, Doug DeCinces. It felt like by having their baseball cards and going to games or watching on TV, you somehow knew the players. DeCinces had an indestructible mustache in his earlier Orioles days. It was Magnum P.I. cool. I remember when he shaved it off.

Josh Wilker gets all this and then some. His book Cardboard Gods: An All-American Tale Told Through Baseball Cards took me instantly back to McCrorys; back to organizing baseball cards; to going to games at Memorial Stadium; to watching on TV as Rickey Henderson break Lou Brock's single season stolen base record of 118 stolen bases in 1982, and then looking for his card that proved that fact the next year. I wasn't an Oakland A's fan, but for some reason watching that game on TV stands out in my head.

Wilker's book is as much about life-existence-childhood and throwing himself headlong into baseball cards as a normalizing force. I give Cardboard Gods and its reconnecting me to that place and time, part of the credit for getting me so amped for the upcoming baseball season. Wilker, along with Buck Showalter and the Orioles front office, and 105.7FM "The Fan" and driving by Nationals Stadium every day, as we've mentioned before.

That and it seems as if the O's are bringing back facial hair to some degree. And this bearded guy says, "Play ball!" And wipe your chin off, for crissakes...

1 comment:

Kelly said...

it's right here, between these two posts that i could really feel some fire brimming under there, that fine frenzied state of inbetween. sometimes, such state is gentle w us like the water saturating in to the beach mud, the mud is the same but anew from the recent wash. but sometimes the way the pounding sudden waves dent the shore, after a long time of slow retreat or pressing in or out of tide, leaves the beach marked in a way wild and new. i'm getting an instinct of wild and new underneath what you've had to say, lately, mr. valiant!