Saturday, February 20, 2016

These Things Stay with a Kid

I picked up three packs of Topps 2016 baseball cards at Target yesterday. I do this every couple of years, to keep up, steeling myself against the sentimentality of nostalgia. As I flipped through the cards back home—a gesture that felt ageless—I frowned, as each generation does, at some of the recent noisy (read, different from what I remember) design changes and the lack of bubble gum, noted with surprise and pleasure the addition of OPS and WAR to the statistics on the back of the cards (which otherwise looked unchanged, though I sure miss the "fun facts" and accompanying cartoon images on my childhood cards), and randomly experienced two cheering, and one melancholy, shivers of recognition:

During last year's American League Division Series between the Toronto Blue Jays and Texas Rangers, Blue Jays right fielder José Bautista flipped his bat ("ostentatiously" as the New York Times saw it) after hitting a homer off of Sam Dyson. I will not re-open Bat Flip Gate here, only to remark that the above iconic image will become ingrained in many a boy and girl's memory because of the endless replays and commentary, sure, but also for the thrill of coming across Bautista's card in a pack. These things stay with a kid.

Ah yes, the sadly out-of-date card. The great (well, I'm a fan) Alexei Ramírez signed a contract with the San Diego Padres last month, ending his popular eight-year career with the Chicago White Sox and leaving Topps holding the bag. Oops. I remember this well as a kid, coming across the card of a player now suddenly with another team, whose exploits I might see only on This Week In Baseball on Saturday afternoons, his uniform oddly colorful, or not, relative to the card in my hand. There was something in these woeful cards that was sad to me, an inarticulated glimpse into the larger, complicated adult world of disappointment and futility that I couldn't then name. These things stay with a kid.

When I came across this card I exclaimed to my wife, "Ooh I got a Mike Trout!" Echoing in my head Ooh I get a Reggie Jackson, Ooh I got Mike Schmidt, Ooh I got a Nolan Ryan, Ooh I got a J.R. Richard! Silly, yeah. These things stay with a kid.

1 comment:

DrBOP said...

Still can't believe no gum.....even though it ALWAYS got thrown away.....STILL miss it......STUPID humans, missing something they didn't like.....but that's part of it too.

And somewhat off-topic, here's something old that is brand new today to warm up the evening.....ENJOY!