(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!