Note: I didn't realize that Stargell passed away. I've replaced all mention of him with Boog Powell, who I'm pretty sure is still very much alive. Long live Pops.
Ever notice that the only thing most people can agree on in regards to baseball is how greedy everyone is? The players make too much, the owners raise the ticket prices every year (except in Pittsburgh, where they still think it’s 1979 and you can buy a bleacher ticket for $12 or something and sneak behind home plate, just like those really smart Braves fans in the late 1980s, right before the Braves got really good. I remember watching their games on TBS and mistakenly think that it was a rain delay, when really nobody showed up, including most of the team...and by the way I think a bleacher ticket at Fenway is reaching $450), the concessions are outrageous (I mean, who really wants to eat Boog Powell barbeque for $25 a rib? Unless I can watch Boog Powell actually wrestle a wild pig in the middle of a circus maximus, watch him apply the sleeper hold on the pig and kill it with his bare hands, I just don’t think I’d be getting my money’s worth…or better yet, I’d pay $50 to watch a tag-team round robin between a team of two wild pigs versus Boog Powell and Reggie Smith—I’m sure between them they could catch a couple wild pigs. Of course, since it’s a round-robin, that would mean that the other teams would be as follows: Cory Snyder and Kevin Seitzer, a leopard and Hal McRae, and the Junkyard Dog and Moondog Spot. I’d be pulling for the Junkyard Dog and Moondog Spot, but something tells me that nothing can beat a leopard and Hal McRae, especially if it involves destroying the crap out of things), and many teams are moving all of their games on tv to cable (which really stinks for those whose only contact with baseball will be Sundays with Tim McCarver and Joe Buck. Insert your own Deliverance joke here; c’mon, I even set you up with the whole bit about the wild pigs. Now you gotta do it).
Players have been greedy since the dawn of man. One famous example is Hal Chase, the star of the Hilltoppers in the 1910s who would openly bet on the games he played in, while he was playing in them. In the 1920s and 1930s, players like Satchel Paige would jump leagues and teams mid-contract for more money. Some players go to other countries just for the cash (see the case of Bob Horner in Japan), and others luck out and have a career year and are unjustly rewarded with huge sums of money that may inspire them to bring home a paycheck all in Sacagawea $1 coins, dump the coins out in a room in their monstrous McMansion, strip down to their bathing suit and frolic around in them…all to the tune of the Ducktales theme. They might even choreograph their movement to coincide with the part where Scrooge McDuck sticks his head out of the pile of coins and spits out a steady stream of gold. Somehow I can picture Mark Bellhorn doing this. But there are other, more deserving people who will never get the chance.
One guy is Jack Clark. Clark, who spent much of his career on the injured list, performed well but never good enough to be considered a superstar (can you name any superstars with unibrows?), for teams both good and bad. Clark, who scored major pay days but then somehow sunk all the cash into one thing or another until he had to claim serious, major league bankruptcy. If you were Jack Clark, how would you have spent your money? If it were up to me, I would’ve gone into the soft drink bottling business with Joe Morgan. If I couldn’t get into that racket, I would probably try to secure a patent on temporary tattoos you can apply with a warm washcloth, because who knows what untold riches might await the lucky bastard who could get that one off the ground. I would probably call them Jack Clark’s Baseball Tattoos, and I know just how I would market them. I’m thinking low-budget TV commercials that air real late at night and during Saturday morning cartoons on UHF channels, and it would basically be me, Jack Clark, standing in front of a mirror with my shirt off, admiring my arms, covered in tattoos of Kirk Gibson, Orel Hershiser, Willie McGee, Mark Gubicza and, of course, me, Jack Clark. Then a pretty lady would come up behind me, squeeze my bicep and I would look into the mirror, directly at the camera and nod and smile. Oh man, I’m a genius! Are you kidding? Those would sell like hotcakes! And I bet that I could save money by drawing all the tattoos myself. That way, people would see that I’m a pretty smart businessman and a talented artist, you know? I guess I would have to change the name to Jack Clark’s Baseball Tattoos by Me, Jack Clark. That way people would know that I made them. I don’t know how much I would charge, but probably somewhere around $0.35 for a pack of four. And here’s the real trick! I would buy them all up so that they’d become real scarce, then I’d leak them back into the hobby one at a time and make a bundle! I’d be remembered as Jack Clark, the entrepreneurial genius who once played baseball, not Jack Clark, the former baseball player who turned his finances to shit.
Fantastic Card of the Day
I wrote a few weeks ago about the fact that Topps sometimes couldn’t their act together fast enough if a player changed teams. When this happened during a year when they didn’t tack on a Traded set, they would airbrush in a new team name on the player’s cap, or crop a photo so the team name wouldn’t be visible. Well, I think I may have come across the mother lode. It seems that in this 1978 Topps card, thanks to playing for four different teams the previous season, the company decided to go whole hog in and airbrush Dave Kingman’s entire photo, including his hair, face, neck and shoulders. If this had been the first time I had ever seen just how ugly Dave Kingman is, I would swear he’s an amalgamation of other photos. If you look at his face for a real long time (which I don’t recommend anyone do under any circumstance), he kind of looks like what Derek Jeter would look like if someone drugged him, threw him out of a moving vehicle in the middle of a non-descript city and he stumbled around outside for a couple of years, gained a little weight, got a job at an OTB and grew out his hair. I’ve walked past the OTB down the street from my apartment in Forest Hills and I know I’ve seen at least one person who looks like this. Could he be The Kingman?