Monday, July 2, 2012

C.A.: 2011 Topps Oakland Athletics

(Welcome to Cardboard Appreciation Week. What does that mean? Well, it means a few things. But all you need to know is you can come to Night Owl Cards every day this week for your fix of Cardboard Appreciation. Every 24 hours, a new card to analyze, dissect and ponder until you wonder if there is anything else more important in life. And, now, time for Cardboard Appreciation. This is the 147th in a series):

The dugout is as distinctly baseball as a bat and ball. It is one of the first things that appealed to me about the sport. It is the only sporting structure that I can think of -- aside from an enclosed stadium or gymnasium  -- that has a roof.

It's a little house on the field!

God, I loved that as a kid.

Other sports have such depressing areas for their non-participating players. Football players stand on a sideline. There are a few benches hidden behind all the mammoth standing players. But mostly you stand, and hope no one runs into you.

Basketball has folding chairs. I think. I don't watch basketball much. But, really, how much fun is a folding chair? And the fans are RIGHTTHERE! On top of you. That can't be enjoyable all the time.

Hockey players cram themselves on a bench. They're constantly shifting over -- scooting their butts along the seat. They always look cramped, squashed, inconvenienced. Dying to get back out on the ice so they won't be squished anymore.

But baseball has a house. You can eat in it. You can drink in it. You can call someone on the phone. You can spit on the floor. You can put gum on your cap. You can take a nap -- just don't get caught.

When we were playing baseball as kids, finding a field with a dugout was the greatest day ever. One time, my brothers and I were in a different town, and we knew of a baseball field that was nearby. We decided to head out there and hit the ball around. When we got there, the field had DUGOUTS.

I don't remember how I hit that day or how I fielded. All I remember is sitting in the glorious dugout. Look! We're inside! Except that we're outside! We're inside outside!

I'm sure we spent the first 20 minutes just checking out the dugout before we even took a swing. ("Hey, look! Walls!")

When I received a guided tour at Camden Yards in Baltimore about 10 years ago, there were lots of things worth remembering. Eating lunch inside the B&O Warehouse. Taking a seat in the private boxes. Walking out out on the field. But the only picture from that tour is of me sitting in the Baltimore Orioles' home dugout. It was so fantastic. The view of the field from there -- the field seemed so elevated.

Once, while in Montreal at Olympic Stadium trying to track down a player for an interview, I was told by someone that they saw him in the dugout. "The dugout?" I thought. "Can I go IN there?" Entering the clubhouse was no big deal. The locker room, no problem. Even the manager's office wasn't too intimidating. But the dugout? Damn. They're going to kick me out of that thing.

But they didn't. There I was, interviewing a big league ballplayer in the dugout. Right by the entrance way that led back into the stadium. Just like you see on TV, when a disgusted player or manager gets kicked out of the game and heads back into "the tunnel." I had just walked through "the tunnel"!

To this day, some of my favorite cards are dugout cards. I believe that's the same for a lot of collectors. It has an almost universal appeal that a bench or a sideline will never have.

It's like a clubhouse. A ground-level treehouse. Right there on the field.

With a roof!


  1. Man, I never thought how rare the roofed bench area was! And I agree, I love a good dugout. I remember when we were in little league the playoffs were at the "big kid fields" with dugouts. We made it into the first round and I swear we spent the first 10 minutes before the game just taking in all the awesome that was the dugout. We hardly paid attention to our game because we were too busy chewing sunflower seeds and packing lips of big league chew. We lost by a ton.

  2. Nice stories. Some kids from our neighborhood qualified for city championship games at either Wrigley or Comiskey. All of us who weren't so fortunate were most jealous that they got to be in the dugout.

  3. Awesome post! That's why your legendary in the blogsphere. Nice job!

  4. I've been in the twins dugout at the metrodome and it seemed pretty small. Of course, that was one of the complaints about the hhh metrodome - all the amenities were subpar. The only chance I've ever had to go into the dodger dugout was when I was on the field for a concert and was able to walk around the infield. As I approached the dugout, literally all the security guards were sitting in there, no doubt just because they knew how cool it was to be doing so. Nice post Greg.

  5. We sat in the dugout at the Ballpark in Arlington at the end of our tour. It was almost magical, just knowing how many of my favorite players had spent countless hours sitting on that very bench. I didn't want to leave.