August 25, 2010

Giant sticks?

1993 Upper Deck Team Stars Checklist

There’s something about the back-to-the-camera-during-the-National-Anthem sports photograph that I love so dearly. The facelessness of it. The patriotism. It makes me feel all tingly inside. Is that wrong? Then I don’t want to be right.

A few things stand out about this particular shot. First, that is one helluva middle of the order. I mean, it’s one thing to see these guys trot to the batter’s box one after the other, but seeing them together, physically -– not just in a lineup card -– is quite impactful. It’s no surprise the Giants won 103 games in ’93 (missing the playoffs). Second, all of these guys are going bald, or are already bald. This is apropos of nothing, but it reminds me of the first time I saw Will Clark take off his helmet as a kid and, for whatever reason, I began to like him a little bit less. I don’t know why. I wish he had just shaved his head like the other two. Whatever. Third, the fact that two of the men here are noted performance enhancing drug users definitely takes away from the romanticism of this card. It’s ’93 and Bonds is looking kinda big already. I’m just saying. Why couldn’t the two of them just do it naturally, and be injured all the time and bald gracefully like Will Clark?

Anyhoo, this card is a checklist.

When I originally turned this over I assumed this Team Stars checklist was a checklist for the regular ’93 Upper Deck set. But it turns out, it seems, that Team Stars is its own special series with its own checklist, as evidenced by the fact that this card is # 471, but the Team Stars card entitled “Giant Sticks” is # 476. I can’t imagine that there is different card entitled “Giant Sticks” that is not this one, which simply features a few players who carry giant sticks but do not play for the Giants because, Upper Deck figured, “Why does everything have to be a play on words?” But if that were the case, and all of our preconceptions were thrown out the window, we could then speculate that the title of this card is “The Royal Tenen-bombs.”*

I would also like to take this time to commend whoever came up with the name “Giant Sticks.” Bravo. That none of these three men are actually holding bats in this picture, and that we cannot see their torsos makes the mind race with only baseball-related wonder.

In perusing this checklist, it’s fairly simple to deduce which players these card titles may feature, although I could probably do without “Boyhood Friends,” which is too Hallmarky and weird for my tastes. (Yes, I have a distinct palate for checklist cards.) I am particularly fond however, of the Team Stars card entitled “Les Grandes Etoiles,” which is French for “The Great Mariners” and which features, I imagine, a picture of Wade Boggs and Roberto Alomar fishing.

*I am aware that movie had yet to be released in 1993. Just humor me.

1 comment:

Steve Scott said...

That famous picture of Babe Ruth standing with his back to the camera on his farewell day gives me the same feeling. I remember that middle of the order in '93 very well. But, could you imagine Mays, McCovey and Cepeda? Wow.

The last day of the '93 season I was at Dodger Stadium for that tragic loss that allowed the Braves to clinch with 104 wins. I had a 400 mile drive home afterward on I-5, as did thousands of Giants fans.