Thursday, March 27, 2008

man's best friend

Player: Robby Thompson
Card: 1992 Studio #119
Errors: Player is being himself. Player may have magnetic head. Player unable to remove batting gloves. Player wore Giants Fan Giveaway Turtleneck to studio shoot.
My Best Buddy
By Robby Thompson, age 30

My best friend isn’t mean,
My best friend doesn’t shout.
My best friend always helps me,
To keep from getting out.
I keep my best friend close to me,
Sometimes she shares my bed,
At other times I just hold my best friend,
Close to my oddly shaped head.
My best pal didn’t tattle,
When I used her to kill a heckler.
She even reminded me to wear gloves,
And said my turtleneck looked spectacular!
So thanks for listening to my poem,
About the best friend Robby Thompson ever had,
She helped me through some rough times,
Like when the media said Ralph Branca was my dad.
Although we’ve come to the end of my story,
There's still a mystery about the subject of our chat.
Did you guess my best friend is my wife, Brenda?
You're wrong! My best friend is … a bat!
Scoring: E6

Thursday, March 20, 2008

it's gold, jerry, gold!

Player: DeWayne Buice
Card: 1988 Donruss #58
Errors: Player could only afford half a sweatshirt. In lieu of belt, player given multi-colored elastic band. Background of card borrowed from Tron.
Comments: DeWayne stared at the letter. He allowed each word to burn. He let the hurt simmer and overflow. He was beyond pain.
"Dear Mr. Buice: Thank you for submitting your gold necklaces. While you show great talent, we regret to inform you that we are not hiring additional artisans at the present time. We will keep your letter on file. We have returned your work, as requested. Thank you and best of luck with your job search. Sincerely, Newton Designs, Inc."
DeWayne could only shrug. He had given up so much for his craft. He walked away from his parents during the rainy season, leaving them without his bamboo expertise. For three years, he had eaten only Ramen and corn flakes, saving up for his carving tools. He had stripped his own car to get metal for the DeWayne "UnDeNiable" collection. And Sharon. Poor Sharon.
What was the point?
Maybe even Sharon's death in the horrible smelting accident - it was an accident, dammit! - might mean something if a gallery would just give him a chance.
Instead, the rejection letters piled up like broken dreams printed on 8-1/2 by 11 pink slips. Bracelets would never find wrists; earrings would never dangle; necklaces would never highlight a nape.
"I have talent and desire," DeWayne thought to himself. "I need marketing. I need exposure."
Suddenly, DeWayne remembered that he could throw a fastball 93 miles per hour. Why hadn't he thought of it sooner?
DeWayne would play baseball.
There, in stadiums filled with thousands of people with expendable incomes, he would showcase his true love: jewelry.
Over the next 10 years, DeWayne underwent intense physical and psychological training.
In each game, he'd pitch his heart out - necklaces prominently displayed.
In Great Falls and Cedar Rapids, DeWayne dazzled. Fresno, West Haven. He always requested V-neck jerseys.
Of course, there were still nights when DeWayne would hold his necklaces and cry out Sharon's name. Why hadn't he checked the pressurization valve?!
DeWayne trudged on: Tacoma. Nuevo Laredo. Midland. Edmonton.
Then, finally, the big show. On April 25, 1987, Willie Fraser was struggling. Gene Mauch looked down his bench and his eye caught the glimmer of a 18K gold necklace, byzantine in style with a clasp in the back.
"Buice! Warm up!"
DeWayne took the mound against the Minnesota Twins, with 51,717 potential customers in the stands.
He pitched 2-2/3 innings that day, giving up just one run. Although the Twins would win when Gary Gaetti singled in the ninth, it was a short-term defeat for DeWayne. Later that night, he'd discover that his answering machine contained 16 new orders for the UnDeNiable necklace, all from people who were at the game.
But even that was secondary to what happened when DeWayne walked out of the Metrodome.
"Hey, nice necklace," a woman shouted from the sidewalk.
DeWayne looked over. It was Sharon's identical sister - the one who hadn't been killed in a horrible smelting accident. Things were beginning to look up for DeWayne Buice.
Scoring: 3-1

Thursday, March 13, 2008

paint by win-loss numbers

Player: Dave LaPoint
Card: 1988 Topps #334
Errors: High school yearbook photo used on Major League baseball card. Topps hired 12 photographers, but 13 painters. Player is being kept in some sort of cage.
Comments: LC: Good evening, and welcome to Card Chatter. I'm you're host Larry Chiti. Today we're going to be talking with David Throneberry, a "field recreation artist" with Topps. Do I have that title right?
DT: Yes, or field recreationist for short. I'm honored to be here. I just hope that my work - my passion, really - can bring a little bit of insight into the art of cards for your readers, viewers and listeners. Really, I'm here to learn as much as give.
LC: Okay, well, we're glad you could make it. I guess I'd like to start with your latest work. You call it DAVE LaPOINT WHITE SOX. It's...well, I'll let you describe it.
DT: Thank you for asking that vital question about what I think is a vibrant piece of art. I guess I should start by telling you how I work. For that particular piece, I spent days interviewing the friends, relatives and former lovers of Mr. LaPOINT. I was careful never to speak with the player himself. In this way, I kept neutrality in my work. If I had met him and we had become friends - traded MySpace addresses, talked about fishing - then I may not have been able to see the DAVE LaPOINT as the world sees him.
And, Lawrence, that's the point of a baseball card, isn't it? To hold a mirror up to the game, then let it reflect on the bleachers and the sky boxes?

LC: Well, okay. It's just that...well, I want to show our audience another card from the 1988 Topps oeuvre. It's a Greg Walker card from the same year. It's not one of yours, but I think it shows an interesting counterpoint. Can the audience see that there?
Audience: Yes! We! Can! Wooo!
LC: Good, good. Well, I guess my point in showing this Walker card is...well, take a look at the uniform Walker is wearing. It's the home uniform, but it serves my point. Notice where the "White Sox" is positioned. Right about nipple level.
But on your recreation - one where you were detailed enough to add a prominent button - you put the "Chicago" very high on the player's chest. We can't see it here, but the 'O' would have been on his shoulder.
DT: Thank you. Thank you.
Honestly, that's all I can say - thank you.
Finally, someone who understands. That arrangement came about because of a little anecdote I picked up from LaPOINT's high school baseball coach. In talking to this man, I understood how much LaPOINT's success meant to him. So, the button represents that small-town-boy-makes-good-while-wearing-the-town's-hopes-on-his-chest-and-doesn't-lose-touch-with-his-roots-no-matter-how-big-the-stadium-is feel. There's a post-World War II life in the card.
LC: But it looks nothing like the real White Sox jersey. The hat is well-recreated, but the jersey adds details in distorted ways.
DT: Exactly. That's the challenge behind the card. That's the mystery behind playing Major League baseball. This man was traded for Rollie Fingers AND Matt Nokes. Trading men. Imagine. But through it all, LaPOINT wasn't forgotten by Glen Falls, New York, Raging Rapids head baseball coach John Cocroft. And he wasn't forgotten by Katie Williams, the Glen Falls, New York, soda girl with pink nail polish. This recreation says that. All of it. Plus some. The audience sees that in their hearts.
LC: Wow. That's all the time we have. That's all the time we'll ever have.
Scoring: 6-5

Thursday, March 6, 2008

the card's the thing

Player: Gary Pettis
Card: 1989 Upper Deck #117
Errors: Player is heavily wrist banded. Player's speed has reduced crowd to dull blur. Card creates hole in universe sucking in anything smaller than John Kruk.
Comments: If you could look at your own soul, what would you see? If a slice of your essence was on a microscope slide, what would it show?
Joy? Despair? Heartache? Incaviglia? Agony?

As he stared into the card that was the very card he held in his hand, Gary Pettis wondered what it would be like to be Gary Pettis for a day.
As the thought entered his head, The Card became reality.
All around him, the Pettisville Pettises played in Pettis Stadium, even though the forecast called for weather that was more than slightly Pettis. Gary Pettis threw a nasty slider to Gary Pettis, who swung and missed. But Gary Pettis ruled the ball was tipped before it fell out of catcher Gary Pettis's glove. Manager Gary Pettis was irate and planned to contact Pettis League commissioner Gary Pettis. It was a clear violation of the Gary Code, subsection Pettis, part Pettis.
In the booth, Gary Pettis tried to keep track of all the action below. But even as he described the Pettis-sized disaster that was forming on Pettis Field, he couldn't help but think of the diagnosis Dr. Gary Pettis had given him that morning. The Gary-Rays confirmed it: he had Pettis. Even a Pettisectomy might not save him. Pettis wondered if he would even be there for Opening Pettis next year. He knew he would have to rely on the spiritual strength of his wife, Gary Pettis, more than ever.
Meanwhile, in the stands - row Gary, seat Pettis - a young Gary Pettis looked at his hero and wondered: "Who am I? If I am Gary Pettis, then am I not Matt Nokes? Am I any less Kevin Seitzer than I am Gary Pettis?" Those thoughts were crudely interrupted by a vulgar, loathsome vendor selling fried Pettis and light-up Garys.
With the Pettises ahead Gary to Pettis, the stadium began to clear out and thousands of Gary Pettises headed home on Pettis Expressway, while writers for the DailyPettis punched out the last few grafs for their columns. Few noticed the note pinned up by Pettsville Pettises clubhouse attendant, Gary Pettis. It read simply, humbly:
"The soul is life. The soul feeds. Look into yours. Then try playing rightfield. It's tough."
Scoring : CS 2-5