July 19, 2006

A Set Big Enough for All of Us

I totally screwed up when I wrote that Jim Eisenreich was (is) an epileptic. According to an old card I found the other night, he has Tourette’s Syndrome, and he took a few years off in the middle of his career to figure out how to make everything fit in his life. Good thing he did come back, he was one of my favorite players (even if I never knew exactly what his deal was). I wish I could take a few years off in my career to figure everything out. Wouldn’t that be awesome?

I was thinking the other day about the possibility of a major card company making a baseball card of me, and what makes a great baseball card. It’s true, I’ve been using a home-made baseball card as my business card for the last three years or so. But it’s business-related; it’s got stuff on there that would only appeal to potential employers. If someone were to make a baseball card to represent my life—and I’ve been thinking about this more than I care to admit—I believe I would want the writers responsible for the back-of-card notes on 1990 Score to write my blurb. Maybe they could add a little of the trademark Donruss pessimism. But not much; I don’t want my card to be depressing.

The front would look like 1955 Topps, or 1996 Topps or 1984 Topps (so I could have an awkward headshot in there for good measure…maybe an embarrassing photo from junior high of me with gigantic glasses, pimples and braces). Or I could request the 1955 Bowman ‘color tv’ design, and then have the photo be of me on the couch with a remote pointed at the camera. Yeah, then I’d be totally ironic and post-modern and wicked cool. Yeah.

That actually might be really lame. Well, let’s forget what the photo would be and the design. What would my Career Highlights blurb say? I believe it would be something like this:

“Ben broke in during the ’79 campaign but didn’t see any live action until three years later, when he fell down the stairs—his first of many memorable spills … turned down four schools to sign with Syracuse University … Strong recruit of Class of ’01 … always “liked to write” … in young career has already been traded for Tommy John, Graig Nettles and John Montefusco … missed a month of 2003 season with tonsillitis … actually caught a ball hit to him once in Little League, even though the coach stuck him out in center field because he didn’t think anyone would ever hit it that far … not much better at basketball.”

That’s all true. Well, except for the stuff about Tommy John and Nettles and the Count of Montefusco; all that happened to Dennis Rasmussen. More important, how would my card be seeded into a pack? Would there be more like me, or would I be special, like an insert? I think it would be cool either way. Think about it: a base set of baseball players and inserts of regular people. That would rock. They wouldn’t be worth anything, but so what?

They would definitely become my new favorite set. I even have a name: Topps TotaLife. If I saw them at a show, I would buy all of them that I could get. Plus, here’s the kicker: it could be like a parallel of some set like Topps Total, so there would be something like 1,000 different cards in the set. Wait, I don’t know 1,000 people…but who said the checklist is just up to me? I think if I could get nine random people together, we could come up with a pretty good cross-section of the world. That would give Topps a leg up on the rest of the industry. Picture it: cards of guys ironing in front of the tv, ladies buying coffee, the mailman enjoying a cigarette, that guy picking his nose on the bus, your neighbor taking out the trash (maybe that could be an In Action subset). Hell, Topps could revive all those subsets…’Jack Enjoys Take-Out’ could be like one of those World Series cards from the 1968 set, only with exciting action shots from real life, like a guy ordering Chinese food, or ‘Leslie Checks for Dandruff’, with a lady making sure she didn’t get scammed with that expensive shampoo. Add a few of those special two-card SuperStar Specials and we’ve got ourselves a kick-ass set (I’m thinking identical twins or two pages out of a high school yearbook or maybe a profile shot of a Chevy Suburban, with the parents on one card and the kids on another).

And all the action photos would be taken by professional sports photographers. And all of the headshots and posed shots would be taken by the quasi-professionals at the Sears Portrait Studio—but only if they promise, promise, promise to use a feathered soft focus. With this combination, let’s just say that all the cards would be beyond awesome.

Man, forget the idea that it would be a parallel set. I would want to get 10 to 15 Topps TotaLife cards in a pack, not one per pack. One per pack blows. Ten to fifteen per pack rocks. I’d love to get a Super Veterans card of one of the guys always yelling in Russian down at the park. That one would go in my wallet.

This would be the set of the century. Hell, that would be the insert set: Topps TotaLife Century. 100 people that made a difference from the last 100 years. We gotta start a letter-writing campaign. This set has to happen. I want to be stopped on the street to sign an autograph.

Besides the Eisenreich card, the other cards pictured here don’t
have anything to do with the post. I just liked these two cards.

1 comment:

Chad said...

Regarding Jim Eisenreich. I was fortunate enough to visit Jim at his parents home when I was about 7 or 8. I was there to get an autograph of a real major leaguer. This was at the point of his life where he was out of baseball do to his tourettes syndrome. He played softball during these off years and you could find him flipping burgers sometimes at the softball fields. At this point he was living with his parents and probably had no plan of getting back in the game. I remember his mom was happy to have two kids there to get his autograph.

He later went on to play in two World Series and won one. He hit a home run in each series and was named most valuable player in at least one of the games. He is a career .290 hitter and hit .385 in his World Series appearances. He is truly an inspirational story.