Monday, July 25, 2016
Style for awhile
I didn't watch the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies yesterday, probably for the first time in 10 years.
Part of the reason was the TV in the living room suddenly decided to stop cooperating (it's settled down since). But mostly it was because I wasn't feeling it. I already saw the Mike Piazza documentary, I'd had my fill. And while half my blogging compadres grew up with Griffey, I don't have that connection. We've entered the period where we're inducting 1990s players and my baseball-viewing was at an all-time low during that decade. I expect this disconnect to continue until the Hall starts inducting people from the Kershaw era.
Everyone made a big deal about Griffey putting his cap on backward at the end of his speech. That was what he was known for. Griffey had style.
But I grew up in an era when almost everyone had style. During baseball in the 1970s, you could put on style or take it off -- like Griffey's hat -- with the wild uniforms and caps. And then there were the folks where the style was a part of them.
I received several 2001 Upper Deck Decade '70s cards from The Writer's Journey recently (he's a noted Reds and Griffey fan, by the way). Among them were a couple of Rollie Fingers cards that I need.
Fingers featured the most permanent style-marker from my childhood, a handlebar mustache. I wasn't baseball-aware when he first grew the mustache, so I don't know how much attention it received. I'm sure it didn't get as much play as Griffey's backwards cap.
Of course, those were different times. There were only newspapers, radio and four channels on your TV. And there was one baseball card set.
Fingers' mustache first appears on his 1973 Topps card. But it's not of the handlebar variety. I believe -- although it's difficult to see -- Fingers' handlebar mustache first shows up on his 1974 Topps card.
The first time collectors got a real good look at it was in the 1975 Topps set. I'm fairly certain the photo is zoomed in so everyone could see the mustache-grooming.
From that point on, Fingers' mustache is a prominent part of the rest of his baseball cards.
Regardless of the team he played for, the mustache always came with him.
He kept it through his career, and then after his career, through his many appearances. He's a regular at the Hall of Fame inductions and the handlebar mustache is always on display. I hope someone gave him a lifetime supply of mustache wax long ago.
With the exception of his early cards, Fingers' mustache is part of all of his cards. It is his trademark. Griffey's trademark, the backward cap, appeared on a number of cards, but not at a greater percentage than Fingers' mustache.
I've got no issue with Griffey at all. I like him. I've always liked him (who doesn't?). He had tremendous talent, a super smile and loads of style. I'm just trying to hold on to what I consider the most stylish, noticeable period of baseball for as long as I can and before it fades away. The mustard-and-brown, the Stargell stars, the baby blues. All of it.
I mean look at all that.
I appreciate Rollie Fingers carrying that reminder wherever he goes.