June 08, 2011

Mattingly > Textbook

Don Mattingly, 1988 "CMC"?

This is part of a Limited Edition set of Don Mattingly cards that I purchased somewhere, at some time, for an undisclosed sum of money that I handed over in cash, in a bag with a dollar sign on it, to an obese, 45-year old baseball card dealer at a flea market card show. You can tell it’s a “Limited Edition” by the words “Limited Edition” in elegant cursive—pure class—that are present on each and every card, so as never to forget. It is a limited edition set, of course, in that they did not make an infinite supply of sets which they are still currently producing, which makes this set no different than every set of baseball cards ever.

Truth be told, this set is freaking awesome. It is so simple; the pictures are fantastic—look at that swing! No, LOOK. AT. THAT. SWING!!!—and the write-ups on the back are as direct, unassuming, and to the point as the man himself. One of the greatest birthday gifts I ever received—besides his ’84 Topps rookie; thanks again, Aunt Carol!—was a small, Yankee-pinstriped baseball card binder with a No. 23 on the front. The first thing I did was place this entire set into that binder, and I would page through it approximately 18 times per day, all the while marveling at my good fortune. I am not absolutely certain what happened to that binder, but I have a faint memory of the cover fading to a point where I thought it was disrespectful to Donnie Baseball for me to continue to own it, and I’m pretty sure it was buried in my backyard after a 20-minute ceremony followed by refreshments.

In this shot, Don displays the textbook swing—

I think even a textbook would be like, “This swing is too perfect to include in my pages. It’s just not realistic to expect one of my readers to be able to execute something like this. In fact, forget baseball. I will be about … the Civil War.”

Some people think you have to be a big muscle man to hit major league pitching,

Who thinks that? Honestly? I don’t know anybody who thinks that or who has ever thought that. Yogi Berra was 4-foot, 3-inches tall and hit 800 home runs, and that was in 1889—fact.

but at six foot and 175 pounds

According to a Harvard-based 1986 study, the overwhelming version of the idealistic American man is one who is six feet tall and 175 pounds, with a mustache, who grew up in the Midwest and who is an athlete.

Don is proof that baseball is a mechanical game

And a mechanic.

“The main thing for me is to hit the ball as hard as I can. If I go 0-for-4,

Never happened.

but hit the ball hard, I know good things will come.”

The modesty is simultaneously admirable and infuriating. Don Mattingly’s average OPS + from 1984-through-1986 was 158. Awww, shucks—I was just trying to hit the ball hard. Let me take it from here, Donnie …

“I am the greatest baseball player in the world and the prototypical man. Look at my swing. Breathe it in. There will never be another like me. The 175 pounds is all lean muscle. I only fear my back may eventually give out from carrying this suddenly dormant franchise. Until then, enjoy the clinic.” – Me, as Don Mattingly for a day, in 1987


Justin said...

"...and I would page through it approximately 18 times per day, all the while marveling at my good fortune."

That about sums up my relationship with my binder at age 11. Although, I had the misfortune of gazing at lesser valuable O-Pee-Chee versions of Mattingly's cards. His 1985 Topps made me want to wear eye-black everyday. What a stud.

mkenny59 said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who had a natural and healthy relationship with a binder growing up. Also, I didn't have too many O-Pee-Chee Mattingly cards ... I wouldn't mind having the accompanying French text to work with here. He probably spoke French too, Donnie. He could do anything.

ob55ob55 said...

I still have one of these. Do you think it is worth anything