Wednesday, April 24, 2013

C.A.: 1994 Upper Deck All-Time Heroes Joe Garagiola

(Today is Administrative Professional's Day, what used to be known as National Secretary's Day. I have just started to become addicted to the show "Mad Men." I've only just started Season 2, so don't spoil anything for me, but good gosh, we treated our secretar ... er, administrative professionals horribly in the early '60s. I know, that's got nothing to do with cardboard. Here is Cardboard Appreciation. This is the 181st in a series):

I'm not someone who goes around talking about the dreams they had last night, but I'll make an exception this time because it's related to baseball card collecting.

I dreamed last night that I went to a baseball card show. It was kind of a combination baseball card show/baseball card shop. The whole show was contained within one store-front room.

I stopped near the front desk. Jim Bouton apparently was the guest signer. I didn't see him, but he had left some business cards. The cards pictured Bouton in a fishing hat with fishing gear (I have no idea whether Bouton actually fished). I grabbed a card and began walking through the room.

I remember picking up only one item. It was actually a series of uncut sheets, nine cards per sheet. Each sheet contained famous Topps cards of the past, 1975, 1979, 1982. But when you turned them over to the back, each of the card backs featured the Donruss card back from 1984.

I recognized these immediately as a rare Canadian issue. I desperately wanted to buy some of the sheets, but couldn't afford them.

I put them down and ventured a little farther. There, I saw Joe Garagiola. He was walking away, as if he just got finished signing autographs. I saw a young man with a pen who seemed to have just received an autograph from Garagiola.

My heart jumped at seeing Garagiola. He was a big part of my childhood. During those days when I grew to love baseball, between 1977-82, the Saturday Game of the Week was the only regular baseball that I ever saw on TV. Garagiola and Tony Kubek taught me more about the game than anyone else I knew at that time.

But I especially liked Garagiola. Kubek was rough and no-nonsense. He only cared about what was on the field. Garagiola was folksy and light. He dwelled on personality a little more and kept the telecast upbeat. He made the games fun and memorable.

I miss those days of Joe and Tony.

During that time, Joe was the play-by-play guy and Tony the color man. When Vin Scully came aboard in 1983, Joe moved to the color job (Tony was bumped to the No. 2 team with Bob Costas). But it wasn't the same. I liked Joe taking control of the booth. I liked folksy taking control. I wanted my play-by-play man comparing his bald head to the infield, or comparing Lance Parrish to a condominium. I didn't want his observations to be clipped anecdotes offered only as rim-shots (I think this is why I like Jon Miller's play-by-play style).

I even resented Scully for a period for breaking up my teachers like that. I was pretty silly.

In my dream, I wished I had that 1973-style Garagiola promo card for him to sign. I didn't have anything for him to sign. But it didn't matter, I just wanted to catch him before he left and ask him to sign something.

I called out to him, and he turned around, not sure who had said something.

Instantly, I became shy and fearful. What would I say to him? Why was I making things inconvenient for him?

Garagiola paused for a minute, and then turned back around and walked toward the door.

I let him go. An opportunity missed, because I didn't want to bother him. Or put myself on the spot.

I woke up, and was actually delighted. A dream about collecting! I have very few of those.

What did the dream mean?

I don't know. Probably something about being afraid to take a risk. But I prefer to dwell on the fact that Joe Garagiola was in my dream.

Garagiola, Bouton and rare Canadian card backs, in fact.

That might be the dream of the year.


  1. One of my heroes as well. I've been meaning to YouTube my way back to my youth, hoping some classic Garagiola would be available that way. But I keep spending my free time blogging instead.

  2. Oh, forgot … great to know there is a Garagiola card I can chase that should be easily catchable. Thanks!

  3. He signs TTM for a fee of $10 so you still have your chance. He is 87 years old though so who knows for how long that window will exist. He sent me an extra card with a nice note on it for my donation to his charity. Seems like a nice guy. I imagine you dream in the daytime since you work at night?

  4. I've never seen that card, or that photo of Joe G for that matter. Pretty cool. I remember him as a Yankee broadcaster, too.