(Today is Newspaper Columnists Day. The National Society of Newspaper Columnists created the day. I've written a few newspaper columns in my time. I've also written what could be considered columns on this blog. I like the ones I do here better. You can't line the bird cage with those. ... Well, you can, if you print out the blog post and then throw it in the cage. But who wants to do all that work? Anyway, it's Cardboard Appreciation time. This is the 180th in a series):
I have seen enough baseball cards in my 35-plus years of collecting them that I know the identifying features of a baseball card photo.
First you have your baseball player, wearing a baseball uniform, in most cases. You often have a baseball player's tools. A bat, or a ball, or a glove.
In the background is the usual baseball card photo scenery. Green grass. Basepaths dirt. The pitcher's mound. Three bases and home plate. Perhaps an outfield wall, a batting cage, fans in the stands, a dugout, a bat rack or an on-deck circle.
Then there are what I would call accessories. Eye black. Sunglasses. Bubble gum. Necklaces. Even a pen for those autograph pictures.
I am accustomed to seeing all of these things on baseball cards. And I have. On card after card after card after card.
I see them so often that when something else pops up on a card, I notice it right away.
Like that stool underneath Jim Leyritz.
A stool? On a baseball card?
OK, it's appeared on a card at least once before.
But it's not your average baseball photo decoration.
Somewhere in the 1990s, it became commonplace to feature players around non-baseball items. Players riding ATVs or posing with their pets. But the habit probably can be traced even earlier to the mid-1980s and Glen Hubbard wearing a snake around his neck.
I think I'm going to make it my mission to track down cards like these. No, I'm not going to start collecting them. But I'm going to note them -- perhaps on this blog somehow. I want to try to find out exactly how common they are, if I can. And how many different items I can find.
It can even be as subtle as this card, which I've already mentioned:
A ceiling light on a baseball card. Truly rare indeed.
These cards aren't ideal. I prefer my players wearing caps and doing some sort of basebally thing in a basebally facility. It can be day or night, but it should be baseball-related.
The dudes on stools or wearing snakes make for memorable cards if sprinkled in with the action pix.
OK, the Leyritz card isn't memorable at all.
But at least the stool got me to babble about it for 18 paragraphs.